Developing Talented Leaders in Scouting
Brother and Sister Scouts.
I’m honoured to be here today and to share with you my passion – my passion for Scouting. My passion for what Scouting does to help young people grow into leaders of their communities. My passion for what Scouting does to support and strengthen a value system parents want for their children. My passion for what Scouting will become when its Vision 2023 becomes a reality.
I’d like to start off by featuring some famous faces, which you may recognise
I know you have already guessed why these leaders and pioneers pictured here were all Scouts. We could spend an entire afternoon showing photos of leaders – present and past – who were Scouts and who will not hesitate to tell you that Scouting played an important role in their leadership development skills. What a legacy. But think with me for a moment of what lies ahead with future leaders.
Some 500 million people have been Scouts, and - as these photos demonstrate - this includes prominent people in every field. Today, 40 million Scouts are spread across over 220 countries and territories around the world.
A few years ago, the Boy Scouts of America contracted Lou Harris and Associates to perform a quantitative research project titled, “The Values of Men and Boys in America.” The objective was to see if there was a measurable difference in the values of those who were in Scouting and those who were not.
You probably have already concluded that there were in fact very large, measurable differences. However, one of the most amazing statistics that came from the report showed that 50% of the men and boys in the USA are currently, or were in the past, involved in Scouting! That is an incredible alumni of Scouts and an incredible resource of leaders.
Reaching more young people with our programme of leadership skills and values is important!
The World Organization of the Scout Movement has a vision for 2023… and our new Vision Statement reads as follows:
“By 2023 Scouting will be the world’s leading educational youth movement, enabling 100 million young people to be active citizens creating positive change in their communities and in the world based on shared values.”
From 40 million today to 100 million in 2023. Reaching more young people with our non-formal educational programme will contribute greatly in developing influential leaders who share the values found in our Scout Promise:
• Duty to God and Country;
• Duty to Others;
• Duty to Self.
I recall reading an article in Forbes.com which said: “Great leaders know how to create the right lens through which their teams view the world, allowing them to interpret even the toughest situations in constructive, empowering ways.”
That’s what a great programme like Scouting does too, and that’s why so many of us in Scouting say it’s the best leadership programme on earth!
Allow me to elaborate.
There is no doubt, based on the Lou Harris and Associates study I mentioned earlier, that Scouting helps young people to be:
• Better spouses;
• Better parents;
• Better employees;
• Better employers;
• And better prepared to give back to their communities.
Let me share a short anecdote with you.
While I was with the Boy Scouts of America, the Chinese Education Association for International Exchange visited the USA. They were reviewing the non-formal educational programmes offered all across the country: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, Campfire Boys and Girls, etc.
During their tour, they visited a Scout camp. A troop of some 40 Scouts arrived and immediately went to work setting up their camp for the weekend. The youth leaders just took charge and away the set-up went. Older Scouts helping younger Scouts set tents, gather firewood, haul in water… all the things to make their new weekend home function properly.
The leadership of the group from China saw what was missing in their culture of the “one child” per family rule. Children in China, they explained, were being raised and doted on by parents and two sets of grandparents. No brothers and sisters to argue with, no cousins to socialise with, just parents and grandparents giving them all the attention.
What they saw was that Scouting created that missing “family” link… that a Scout troop was much like a family where children take leadership roles and help younger family members along the way. From this single observation – and not knowing much else about Scouting - they concluded that Scouting could very well indeed help better prepare their young people to enter the work force… young people knowing how to get along with peers and understanding leadership roles during their development years.
In fact, the Scouting that goes on in your local community is no different than the Scouting the Chinese Education Association witnessed during their tour. It’s all about developing leadership skills based on the shared values found in our Scout Promise.
Leadership in Scouting
World Scouting recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to experience leadership roles and develop 21st century skills.
But how is leadership defined in Scouting?
In Scouting, leadership is understood as the process of establishing a vision, engaging and empowering others, and collaboratively facilitating change towards a shared purpose. It also refers to the ability to effect change in the community.
Youth leadership is the practice of young people exercising authority over themselves or others, both informally and formally. There is youth leadership which is guided by adults and there is also youth leadership beyond the scope of what adults recognise, appreciate, or foster.
Young leaders are young people who are developing and delivering the Youth Programme to younger age-sections, or are involved in supporting other adults or organisational structures. In this case, “leader” is related to the role they play on behalf of the organisation.
What makes leadership in Scouting unique is that it’s a combination of the following characteristics:
1. Value-based purpose;
2. Empowerment of individuals;
3. Collaboration with others;
4. Process of learning by doing.
The Scout Movement supports and encourages the development of talents in young people beginning from childhood to adolescence and early adulthood, between five and 26 years of age.
The Mission of Scouting is…
“…to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.”
In a nutshell, Scouting stimulates personal growth and promotes character development of young people, and prepares them to be active citizens within their local communities.
An active citizen is a citizen who:
• strives to build a better society with tools that are democratic and non-violent, respectful of the opinions and differences of others;
• is committed and responsible, endowed with critical thought, who does not passively accept reality as defined by others or institutions as they have developed over time and current laws, but one who strives to critically examine and potentially challenge the status quo using the principles of democracy, while taking account of the diverse range of opinions which exist in any society.
Scouting also prepares young people to be active citizens who are autonomous, supportive, responsible, committed and culturally sensitive.
But how do we develop talented leaders?
Developing Talented Leaders
According to mathematician and philosopher, Albert Whitehead, no matter at what age you start learning, you should begin to learn it playfully, with teachers who make it exciting and interesting.
Learning should be fun and Scouting is fun! What’s more, Scouting’s Youth Programme is supported by close to seven million enthusiastic and knowledgeable adult volunteers who help to create different experiences for each Scout according to their learning ability, competency, stage of development and needs.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about my Scoutmaster, John McWilliams.
Mr. McWilliams always believed that young people in the troop ought to be the leaders, so he always stayed in the background while keeping a close eye on us. We always knew he was back there, somewhere…. Watching what we did. He also encouraged the troop to go camping every month where he would challenge us to do things, take care of ourselves and work together as a team.
Looking back, I realised that he was developing our leadership skills by being there, guiding us but letting us make the decisions that moved the troop forward.
Volunteers like Mr. McWilliams provide the adult leadership required to keep the group going in the right direction and they serve as role models who set positive examples – in short, they train leaders for the future!
I believe it is no simple coincidence that, as I grew from a young person into an adult, I could never refer to John McWilliams by his given name of John. He was – and will always be – Mr. McWilliams to me. And I believe this speaks to the respect and high regard all Scouts have for their leaders.
The cause of Scouting is Education for Life and the Youth Programme is the main medium through which young people are educated for life. The educational purpose of Scouting has always been pursued through our Youth Programme.
What is our Youth Programme all about? Well, it:
• has young people at its centre;
• is about education;
• develops active citizens;
• is locally adapted and globally united;
• is up-to-date and relevant;
• is open to all;
• is attractive, challenging and meaningful.
It is the totality of the learning opportunities from which young people can benefit (this is the “What”), created to achieve the purpose of Scouting (this is the “Why”) and experienced through the Scout Method (this is the “How”).
The Scout Method, as Baden-Powell designed it, exposes Scouts to fun learning opportunities with their peers. It is a system of progressive self-education through the Scout Promise and Law, learning by doing, the patrol system, symbolic framework, personal progression, nature and adult support.
By participating in camps, outdoor activities, community service, community development projects, ceremonies, patrol and troop life, and games as well as obtaining proficiency badges, Scouts learn to serve, plan, coordinate, socialise, manage money and solve problems.
Scouts are also given the opportunity to lead by taking on positions of responsibility such as Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Venture Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Quartermaster, Scribe, Historian, Librarian, Instructor, Bugler, Den Chief, Troop Webmaster and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster.
Even the Scout uniform itself was a method of Scouting as it creates a sense of belonging, of being part of a group.
When I was young, I came home from school, changed my clothes, and went outside the house to meet my friends. I come from a generation that were Instigators of Play.
Today, young people come home from school, change clothes, and chat by texting on their cell phones, play video games or watch television. They are fast becoming a generation that are Consumers of Play.
Consumers of play always ask, “What’s in it for me?” They have joined the “Me Generation” that is concerned about me, me, me.
Scouting gets young people out of the house and into a programme where they begin to see there are others out there that need their help. That “M” in “Me” turns upside down into a “W” and Scouting helps develop a “We Generation” of young people that reach out and support their communities.
That is why I believe that we should give every young person we possibly can, the opportunity to join a local Scout group. Because it is in a local group that values are shared and leadership skills are learned; and it is in Scout groups that we touch the lives of young people.
The number of 100 million in our Vision 2023 takes on a whole new meaning when we think about the impact such a membership in Scouting can have.
Young adults who are interested to continue to contribute to Scouting are also given opportunities to participate in
• youth platforms/forums
• youth advisor groups
• a mentoring system/mentorship
• peer education models
• youth networks
• community volunteering/service
• job shadowing
For example, at the world and regional levels, we have Youth Advisors, whose role is to increase youth participation in the decision making of the Movement. They are elected for a three-year term, and take part in the meetings of the World/Regional Scout Committees.
At the world level, the Youth Advisors play a very active role; for the first time, the World Scout Committee included a Youth Advisor to be a member of its Steering Committee. Youth Advisors are also actively involved in the various task forces and work stream groups that influence the future direction of our Movement.
Their active participation and involvement are key in developing them to be leaders, not only in and for the Scout Movement, but in their careers in the marketplace. I have no doubt that the coaching, mentoring and discipline they acquire while working with the World/Regional Scout Committee members will shape and develop them, and make them to be highly sought-after professional resources and talents.
They are also given opportunities to
• apply for internship in Scout organisations
• form partnerships with other NGOs
• coach and vote
At the World Scout Bureau Global Support Centre in Kuala Lumpur, we have three Scout interns with us.
Caitlin Wood from Australia who is handling the Scouts of the World Award Programme with our Scouting Development group; Eul Bryan from the Philippines who is supporting the operations of the Office of the Secretary General as well as contributing articles to the Communications and External Relations group; and Sherman Sheng from Taiwan who is helping out with social media work in the Communications and External Relations group.
At the recent World Scout Jamboree, which was a 12-day event held in Japan, we had close to 8,000 Scout volunteer leaders serving as members of the International Service Team. They were the ones who “ran the show” -- contingent support, sub camp management, guest services, marketing and communication, on-site and off-site programme facilitation, safety, transportation and logistics arrangement; they were the ones who stood under the blazing sun directing traffic, cleaning toilets, distributing food, engaging our young people in amazing activities.
It was a lot of hard work and I am confident they were also developing their own interpersonal and leadership skills.
These are some of the ways Scouting develops the talents and skills of our young people.
Messengers of Peace
Our flagship programme, Messengers of Peace, was initiated to inspire and empower young people to do amazing things in their communities and thus create a better world.
So far, this programme has recorded over 630 million service hours in just over two years of implementation. Our Scouts worldwide have performed over six million community projects.
They are supporting the refugee relief efforts in Europe, assisting in earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal, preventing bullying in schools in Ethiopia, encouraging interactions between divided communities in Kashmir, leading social mobilisation initiatives in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone, and planting mangrove trees to help restore a deteriorating coastal ecosystem along Indonesia’s shores. Now, that’s what I call leadership in action!
Although they are still in the learning process, it has never stopped them from contributing within and outside the Movement. So, there’s no reason to stop at 630 million community service hours. It is because of their record of service that I spoke recently in Washington DC to a crowd of some 350,000 people where I – with great confidence – announced that these active global citizens will contribute an additional one billion hours of community service over the next five years.
Before I conclude, I’d like to share a story about Jerwin Gonzales, a former street child in the Philippines whose life was transformed by Scouting.
(Video testimonial by Jerwin Gonzales – 6 minutes 41 seconds)
That was three years ago. Today, as the leader of the Ticket to Life – St John Bosco Troop in Manila, he juggles his responsibility of caring for 27 street children aged between eight and 12 years, and working as a custodian in a shopping mall. Scouting has given him hope and helped him to develop into a better person. Jerwin dreams of being a seafarer, so that he can provide a better life for his family one day.
There is also Edwin, a former Scout from Casa Alianza Scout Tropa 31 in Honduras. Casa Alianza is one of our outreach projects in the Interamerican Scout Region.
“I was playing football with a tin can, barefoot, in a dangerous street with a friend at night, when I was approached by the team from Casa Alianza, and rescued.
I was only seven. My dad and mum had died, and my grandmother just couldn’t cope… they talked to me about a different life, a Scout life… and I never looked back!
Then I was lucky to be one of the first Scouts in Tropa 31, and became leader of the Lion Patrol. Scouting gave me a sense of honour towards myself, and taught me how to help others without expecting anything in return. I think I have lived up to it.”
Today, Edwin is a pilot with the Honduran air force.
Young people are our future. The education of young people is at the centre of everything we do as we strongly believe that their potential for contributing to society is huge when fostered properly and given enough support and opportunities.
I can promise you that a young person who joins a Scouting programme will be a better parent, a better employee, a better employer, will certainly be a better spouse and a better contributor to his or her community.
Back in 1974, LEGO, one of the world’s largest toymakers included a note in their series of doll houses. It said: “… A lot of boys like doll houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than doll houses. The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.”
Scouting provides this “material” – the support and opportunities for self-education, so that every Scout is empowered to take responsibility for their own development and in the process – create a better world.
Thank you again for inviting me to be with you today.
My name is Scott Teare.
I am a Scout.
I am a Messenger of Peace.
And I am proud to serve as the Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.