The Impact of Scouting
It is an honour for me to be here with you today and share a few thoughts about Scouting and the impact it has on young people and the communities where they live.
Let me begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Guides and Scouts of Norway and all of its numerous volunteers for having worked so very hard to prepare and organise this exceptional conference.
I’d also like to recognise the European Scout Committee for the time and effort you have invested in this conference. To Andrea and his committee, thank you!
And to the World Scout Bureau staff, my heartfelt thanks to you. This includes those who serve in the Regional Support Centres for Europe, as well as those assisting from the Global Support Centre in Kuala Lumpur. I am proud to call you colleagues, consider you as friends and I admire who you are and what you stand for.
To my predecessor and friend, Luc Panissod. Thank you for the continued support you give as you represent me in various meetings where I experience travel and scheduling conflicts.
Last, my friends from the World Scout Committee. A special thanks to our Chairman João, and to our Vice Chairpersons Dan and Jemima for your support. And to all the committee members who are here, thank you for supporting this event and for the support you give me and my team each and every day.
Can you believe that it has been almost a year since we were together in Japan for the World Scout Jamboree? Many of us visited the Better World Tent and participated in activities about peace, dialogue, sustainable development, youth involvement, social impact, world Scout centres, the environment, and so much more. The memories and experiences will last a lifetime.
And it has been nearly two years since we left the World Scout Conference in Slovenia with a new vision, “Vision 2023” which states in part that we will place the World Organization of the Scout Movement as the leading educational youth movement in the world.
Futurist Joel Barker said, “Vision without action is just a dream. Action without vision just passes time. Vision with action can change the world”.
Since that conference, I hope you have seen what I have seen: A new direction in our movement, a new vitality, and a new excitement about reaching more young people.
I say this with extreme confidence because your World Scout Committee and World Scout Bureau staff are fully engaged and committed to fulfill their obligation to better support your region and your National Scout Organizations.
This comes with a new plan for continued, improved communications. A refreshed approach with more energy and proactivity. A focus on improved, faster and more energetic and inspiring digital communications. A new, clear strategy around External Relationships based on our being an “assertive” partner and looking for real value for National Scout Organizations in our external partnerships.
And now the stage is set for this conference to combine our vision with action. You are involved with a full agenda as you collectively work to move the European Region forward. There is much to accomplish in the short time we are together, and I wish you the very best as you tackle the issues facing the National Scout Organizations of this fine region.
But it all begins with a local Scout group. It is in a local Scout group that values are shared. It is in a local Scout group that leadership skills are learned. It is in a local Scout group that our National Scout Organizations can help people change lives, and even sometimes save lives.
In the very centre of a local Scout group is the group’s leader. For me, this was my Scoutmaster, John McWilliams. Mr. McWilliams encouraged the Scouts in my troop to assume various leadership roles. Oh yes, he was always right there in the background, should we ever require his sage advice.
He allowed us to fail from time-to-time. Failing, after all, is all a part of learning. And there are many that will always remain grateful for the leadership skills he helped develop.
It is no coincidence, therefore that I could never bring myself to to call Mr. McWilliams by his given name. He always was, and always will be, Mr. McWilliams to me. And I believe this speaks to the high respect we have for our Scout leaders in a local Scout group.
And please remember that we have over 7 million volunteer Scout leaders at the grassroots level like Mr. McWilliams. They are the very pillars of Scouting because it is these leaders who deliver the educational program we call Scouting.
Our local Scout groups also know how to give back to their communities. This is clear when we look at the near 700 million hours of community service performed under the auspices of our Messengers of Peace Program.
In addition to planned community service projects, our local Scout groups also react when emergencies arise.
Yes, we have young leaders that are trained in emergency preparedness. Yes, they have the leadership skills to assist disaster relief organisations, such as our friends at the Red Cross. Yes, they have hands and feet and strong backs and they are there to help when and where help is needed.
No, we are not a relief organisation and our young members should not be expected to be the first responders. However, we are there are that beginning of a humanitarian situation, and we never leave. We help rebuild communities, and integrate and support young people for the long term.
Our young leaders help organise Scout activities for the young people that find themselves in a temporary camp for disaster survivors, or in one of the hundreds of refugee camps facing families fleeing from areas of conflict.
This could be seen during the devastating earth quake that hit Ecuador and previous devastation seen in places like the Philippines, Nepal and Haiti.
Our Scouts worked hard in these search and rescues operations. Lifting rubble to help find survivors. Unloading trucks filled with food and supplies. Assisting in building shelters. They also helped in collecting food and clothing.
Scouts could also be seen in the refugee camps in places like Lebanon, Sweden, France and Turkey.
There they organised Scout activities to help bring to young survivors a little bit of the life they left behind. These activities help deliver a values-based, non-formal educational programme that helps in meeting the immediate needs of their current, desperate situation and better prepare them for the longer term future that lies beyond the confines of their survivor or refugee camp.
A few weeks ago, I was privileged to deliver a similar message at the United Nation’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. Let me pause for just a moment to thank Hasan, President of the Scouting and Guiding Federation of Turkey, for his very kind hospitality while I was in Istanbul… thank you my friend.
While others in the session I attended seemed to speak of issues that the UN needs to address, the World Organization of the Scout Movement acknowledged such issues and demonstrated that we have young people around the globe poised to do something about them. Clearly, we were positioned as a leading educational force in the world. Hands down.
Our Scouts are empowered by the values learned in our Scout Promise.
Never, ever underestimate the determination of a young Scout leader to help in a time of crisis. Simply point them in the right direction and watch the magic begin.
Young people are a tremendous source of energy, creativity and values that can shape a better future, both inside Scouting and in the local communities in which they live.
Our young members are in their formative years; acquiring knowledge, skills and attitudes that make them more open to perform positively in society – not just in the future but also today. Even though they are still in a learning process, this does not stop them from active contributions, like those I just mentioned.
I urge that we continue to remember that the education of young people is at the centre of everything we do.
It is, therefore important for us to come together as a movement to discuss education. The World Scout Educational Congress planned for next year at the Kandersteg International Scout Center will be “Scouting Magical” and an important link to our our vision of Scouting as the world’s leading educational movement.
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 opportunity.
I can promise you that a young person who joins a Scouting programme will be a better spouse, a better parent, a better employee, a better employer, and better prepared to give back to their community.
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.
Friends, I have been a Scout my entire life. I am the son of a Scoutmaster. I literally grew up in a Scout camp. I’ve served on national and world jamboree leadership teams, designed programmes and implemented Scout curriculum. Scouting provided me the Lego building blocks to grow and to give back to the programme and reach more young people.
It is, therefore my considered belief that the Scouting programme just may be the single most important, vital, transformative, energizing and visionary programme ever instituted.
One only needs to consult the news of the day to learn of the atrocities humans are capable of inflicting upon one another. The acts of conflict and threats of terrorism are forcing people to flee their homes. Many have lost their lives.
Even so, tens of millions of Scouts from 223 different countries and territories are working in all kinds of conditions, engaging in sacred work. These Scouts are repairing the world. The work of peace is demanding. At times, it is difficult and challenging work, but Scouts are working to transform the world that is, into the world that can be.
If you read the words of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, it becomes immediately apparent that he, with almost messianic conviction, viewed World Scouting as the purveyor of global peace. This belief permeates B-P’s writing, B-P’s actions and B-P’s goals for the movement he founded. B-P believed that peace will remain a distant vision unless we as Scouts do the work of peace ourselves. And that’s exactly what Scouting allows us to do… the difficult and demanding work of peace; the world-changing work of peace.
We no longer live in a world where actions and exploits can be hidden and concealed from the scrutiny of truth’s light. We’ve not lived in that world for a very long time. Right now, as we speak, there are all sorts of organisations and groups vying for the passions and commitment, the hearts, souls and minds of our youth. We need to be the dominate, desired programme shaping their value system and moulding the world view of young people across the globe. To be a Scout is to change the world that is, into the world that can be.
Scouts are global citizens and Scouting has a global perspective. Scouting is much more than tying knots and building campfires. Scouting is about building relationships and repairing the world. But that was B-P’s intent from the very beginning.
In 1906, in an essay were he elucidated his vision for a world-wide Scouting movement, Baden Powell wrote these words: "Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps. Don't let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, backwoodsmanship, camping, hiking, good turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is character with a purpose. And that purpose, that the next generation may be sane in an insane world, and develop the higher realization of service, active service of love, and duty to God and neighbour."
Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.”
Sacred Scripture teaches us: “Where there is no vision the people will surely perish.”
Scouting was founded by a visionary who believed the world would be healed through the peaceful work of all Scouts.
Our movement, world-wide, is sustained by leaders who translate that original vision into sacred action.
Today we need to take action and bombard our young people with four-letter words. Words like Love; Care; and Hope. Yes, we even need to use the “F” word, Faith.
I believe that a young person today spells “love,” T-I-M-E” - time. What they crave is the time of a caring adult.
Scouting has leaders that fulfill that role, that give their time. Over 7 million around the globe. We need to inspire more to join us!
Thank you for being one of those leaders!
Together we make an incredible, positive force in today’s world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Scott Teare.
I am a Scout.
I am a Messenger of Peace.
And I am proud to serve as Secretary General to the world’s leading educational movement!
This speech was presented at the 15th European Regional Scout Conference, which was held at the Oslofjord Convention Centre on 19 June 2016.
Photo credit: Bjarne Lohmann Madsen