Scouts strive to empower youth

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Sabina Elago

WINDHOEK-Hard To empower the Namibian youth, the Independent Scout Association offers an informal education programme designed for the youth.

Ben Strohbach, a member of centenary committee of the Scouts of Namibia, says they have three branches: the Cubs, catering for 7 to 11-year-old children, the Scouts, for youth between 11 and 18 years, and the Rovers, which caters for young adults up to 26 years.

Each age branch has a progressive badge programme, in which the scouts obtain and demonstrate a variety of skills from First Aid to Traditional Scoutcraft skills like hiking, camping, mapping, nature craft and pioneering.

They also include social skills such awareness about HIV and AIDS, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and peer pressure. “We try to achieve this through a fun-filled, active outdoor-based programme, geared to the specific age of the scouts,” says Strohbach.

He adds that the scouts have formed a youth forum in each region, as well as a national youth forum, in which the more senior scouts are represented, and can discuss issues with the regional and national leadership of the association.

“As the scouts become more experienced, they get basic leadership training, as well as the opportunity to take responsibility for other scouts in the form of leading a scout patrol, normally six scouts,” Strohbach says.

Scouts are an international youth movement, with over 60 million members worldwide. Scouting was founded in 1907 in England by Lord Baden-Powell, and has since spread rapidly through the world.

In 1917 the first group started in Windhoek and after Independence, the Scouts of Namibia also became an independent Scout Association, with its own chief scout heading the association. Around the same time it was decided to also open scouting to girls, and thus the name changed from “Boy Scouts” to “Scouts”.

The scouts in Namibia will this year celebrate the centenary of the association with the Scout of the Year awards.

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