Thank you for contributing to creating a Better World
Brothers and sisters in Scouting,
Today, the 5th of December, the world celebrates volunteering.
This is a concept that is in the very heart of Scouting and that we value very much. For more than 100 years, millions of women and men have invested their time, talent and resources to the Service of the Scout Movement. Their main reward? To help in the development of young people and contribute to turn this world into a better place.
Scouting provides a learning environment for young people in which adult leaders play an important role, as they enable the right conditions for meaningful and unforgettable experiences to happen.
This was very visible recently at the 23rd World Scout Jamboree, held in Japan. On that occasion, almost 8 000 women and men of all ages, races, nationalities and creeds, came together and gave their best for 25 000 young participants to go through a life-changing experience.
We saw those generous women and men directing traffic under the blazing sun and cleaning toilets; we saw them in the early hours distributing food and patrolling at night; we saw them engaging young people in amazing activities… And we also saw them smiling, dancing, being kind to others around them… and being helpful… This was just an example of what happens in tens of thousands of local groups around the world where, each week, dedicated Scout leaders give their best so that young people have fun and develop themselves.
But the spirit of volunteering is also important as an educational tool and we should use it extensively in Scouting. We start small, with the good deed, and we end up with impactful service projects like building peace between communities at conflict, assisting refugees, planting millions of trees, providing shelter for the homeless, or giving a meaning to the lives of children living and working on the streets.
By developing these Service projects, young scouts open up to the needs of others, develop a number of skills, and acquire a sense of belonging to the world they live in. This will make them to be better citizens, and potentially, to remain available to contribute as volunteers.
It is clear that volunteering benefits the individual and the wider community. But it also benefits the organisation that promotes it. It was the passion, commitment and generosity of millions of volunteers that made us the largest youth organisation in the world today. But we want to grow, because we believe that we can touch the lives of much more young people and make them better citizens.
For that to happen, we will be needing more adults who are willing to play this important role of contributing to the education of young people. Women and men who are committed, generous, skilled and driven by our Mission.
That is why we call the National Scout Organisations to proactively rethink their strategies on Volunteering. In particular, we encourage you
- To create a positive and supportive environment for volunteers
- To develop policies and practices based on a good understanding of what volunteering means in each context
- To improve the systems and processes of training and managing adult volunteers
- To work on the recognition of the skills and competences of volunteers
- To collaborate with governments and other stakeholders in order to reduce the legal barriers for volunteering and increase its protection under law
- To explore different models for volunteer involvement
- To reach out to other communities and engage different profiles of volunteers, especially those who are socially excluded.
In short, we need to provide volunteers in Scouting with good management, effective leadership and helpful support.
As the world celebrates International Volunteer Day, I’m reminded of each one of the seven million plus volunteers in the Scout Movement, who contribute to the development of children and young people around the world, and I have no words to express my gratitude sufficiently for all you do.
The World Scout Committee is humbled by the dedication, spirit of service and positive attitude of all volunteers in Scouting. And that fills us with hope for the future of our World Organization.
WOSM is honoured to have you as volunteers, and I am proud to be able to call you my Brothers and Sisters in Scouting.
Once again, thank you for contributing to creating a Better World.