A SPEECH BY THE NATIONAL YOUTH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE KENYA SCOUTS ASSOCIATION AT THE “ROVERING AS INTENDED” BOOK LAUNCH DURING THE FOUNDER’S DAY CELEBRATION AT KABIRUINI SHOWGROUND IN NYERI ON 22ND FEBRUARY 2014
• The Chief Guest; Cabinet Secretaries, Governors and Senators, Other National and County Government Officials present;
• The representative of the World Scout Committee; the Africa Scout Committee; Regional Director and Staff of the World Scout Bureau, Africa Regional Office;
• Chief Scout, Hon. Francis Ole Kapar; Chief Commissioner, Mr. Ray Charles Musau; National Commissioners and Members of the KSA National Executive Committee; All Scout Commissioners and Youth Representatives at the County and District levels; Scout Leaders and fellow Scouts;
• Chief Guide, Chief Commissioner, National Commissioners of the Kenya Girl Guides Association; and other Guide Leaders and Guides form all over the country gathered here today;
• All invited guests, Friends of Scouting and Guiding, Parents, Ladies and Gentlemen;
I stand before you today, as one of the two National Youth Representatives at Kenya Scouts Association, delightfully honoured to be joined by all of you in not only marking one of the most important days in World Scouting; but also to witness and share in launching a great milestone for Rover Scouting in Kenya-Anthony Gitonga’s book “Rovering as Intended”.
About two years ago, together with my fellow National Youth Representative and President of the Africa Scout Youth Forum, Ms. Grace Michuki, who is also here with us today; we began a process of working for the revitalization of the Rover Scout movement in Kenya-something that we have become really passionate about. With support of the Youth Programme department of Kenya Scouts Association and other outstanding Rover Scouts like Antony and many others, we are glad things are gradually taking shape.
Background of Rover Scouting in Kenya
The Rovering section of the Scouting movement in Kenya and indeed the rest of Africa has for a long time registered little growth. It has suffered great reduction in membership and activity. The statistics at Kenya Scouts Association as at last year show that we have slightly over five thousand registered Rovers. I am however convinced that we are way more than that.
This low enrollment can be attributed, in my opinion to two things: the lack of well defined, attractive and relevant Rover programme and increased competition from other youth actors. The question we should then ask ourselves is “how can we package something that is more appealing to attract the young people?”
Education in Scouting
Last November, the 1st World Scout Education Congress in Hong Kong reaffirmed education as the core business of Scouting. Non formal education for that matter is fast gaining credibility as formal education becomes increasingly unable to offer holistic learning; and that is where Scouting comes in-to fill in the gap. This is strength we need to maximize on. Young people’s greatest desire continues to be a vibrant, challenging, skill-based and enjoyable programme that would empower them to become better prepared for life.
Baden Powell’s Book: Rovering to Success
The first book ever written about Rover Scouting was “Rovering to Success” by Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting. In this book he describes Rovering as a brotherhood of the open air and service of young people who are able to shift for themselves, but equally able and ready to be of some help to others. He states the objectives of Rovering as to develop character and intelligence, handcraft and skill, health and strength and service for others and citizenship; which he believed are requirements for a happy and active life.
He goes on to say that many young men just drift passively along and never reach happiness. With Rovering they would not let slip their golden opportunities. Since it is a brotherhood of wanderers, they can, as a member of it, extend their travels to foreign countries and there make friendships with brother Rovers from other nationalities. This side of our movement is not only interesting and educative but must make a real step in ensuring the future peace of the world through mutual goodwill.
Baden Powell concludes the book by saying; “I would lay stress on the possibility and necessity of service in the ordinary surroundings of the Rover’s life and point out that he must first of all try to apply his ideals in his ordinary life. This seems to me to a better crowning of the Scouting experience than sending the fellow on to find new fields in which to function. In this way I hope that we will consolidate the whole idea that lies behind Scouting, and emphasizes what we really want, which is to bring the ideals of Scouting into our everyday life, and thus bring it to pass that other people are touched by its magic and helped by its ideals.”
Antony Gitonga’s Book: Rovering As Intended
Anthony’s book “Rovering as Intended” draws a lot from Baden Powell’s “Rovering to Success” among other sources of reference. It combines past knowledge with present practice and presents to Rover Scouts and almost complete package of what they need to know about the journey through Rovering. It is a good complementary to the Rover Scout Programme and should prove to be a worthy resource even for the Rover Scout Leaders.
The book is designed in short, clear and easy to understand manner. It introduces Rovering and how to become a Rover, talks about Rover Crew Organization, its administration and Meetings, Rover Craft and Ceremonies. The Kenya case of Rovering is also given as an example of how Rovering is practices in an African context. The book culminates with a look at the Principle of Service and Citizenship; which is a core part of Rover scouting.
This wonderful effort by Anthony reminds us of Baden Powell’s intent of what Rovering should be like. It is upon us now to interpret it into a 21st Century educational programme for young people. For Rover Scouts working towards their Chief Scout Awards, this is a must-have! Last year 25 outstanding Rovers received their Chief Scout Awards. Them too like Anthony and other who are former recipients of the Award, should become champions for the development of Rovering in Kenya and beyond.
What are we Doing to Revitalize Rover Scouting?
This book “Rovering to Success” that we are launching today comes at a time when a lot of efforts are being made to strengthen Rover Scouting in Kenya. As I mentioned earlier on, we are doing a number of things towards Rover Scouts self empowerment and making to make them not only better prepared for life but also to be able to offer meaningful service to society.
Notable among these efforts include: the review of the Rover Scout Section Programme Handbook and development of the Youth Leaders Policy which incorporates the Court of Honour and the Youth Forum. Since 2012, we have also increased the frequency and variety of Rover Scout activities which has seen the involvement of Rovers from all across the country and even from our neigbouring countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Last year, the National Scout Youth Forum agreed on six key youth-led flagship initiatives aimed at pushing forward the youth agenda at Kenya Scouts Association. These initiatives include: Chief Scout Award Drive which targets to motivate as many Rover scouts as possible to work towards achieving their highest section Award; Jasiri Enterprise Challenge that seeks to promote entrepreneurship and access to business financing by Rover Scouts; Scout and Proud Initiative which is a communication strategy of Scouts telling their own stories to change public views and perceptions that do not reflect the totality of what Scouting is about; Scout Brotherhood Exchange which aims at creating opportunities to share the global diversity and uniqueness as a way of promoting international citizenship through multiculturalism, networking and solidarity. There are also plans to set up an Emergency Response Unit with Kenya Scouts Association to help in incidences of disaster, rescue and relief. The Messengers of Peace initiative by World Scouting is another venture we are working on to increasing the Scouting movement’s contribution to the peaceful coexistence of the Kenya people.
We have also hosted delegations from South Sudan and Nigeria who have come to learn from us. The presence of the Scouts of Angolan and Norway with us here today is yet another sign of great efforts being made to connect our Scouts with other brothers and sisters form across the global family.
What Does the Future Hold for Rovering Movement in Kenya?
The future of Rover Scouting in Kenya looks bright. The movement still has immense potential for growth in our increasing numbers of universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning. Community-based Rovering is still also not fully tapped.
Our friends from the World Scout Bureau-Africa Regional Office, who are here with us today, will confirm to you that across the African continent, Scouting in Kenya is a big light house. Many National Scout Associations look up to Kenya for leadership in driving the Scouting agenda in Africa. To put it simply; the founder of Scouting chose to live, died and together with his wife they are buried here in Nyeri facing Mt. Kenya; Kenya Scouts Association hosts the African Regional Office of the World Scout Bureau; and as if nor all, the youth of Africa in two out of six office terms entrusted the Presidency of the Africa Scouts Youth Forum to the hands of a Kenya; in East Africa, KSA again hosts the Secretariat and Chairmanship of the Youth Forum; and since inception Kenya is the first African Country to have produced a young person for the global award of Messengers of Peace Hero by the World Organization of the Scout Movement; among many many other accolades.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are a benchmark for good Scouting in Africa and the world; and the future only remains for us to conquer. Partnerships remain a key element is helping us realize the growth of Scouting in this country. We therefore call upon, all proponents of youth development to join hands with us to build the next generations of responsible country men and women.
As in conclude, ladies and gentlemen; I wish to invite you all to join me in thanking and congratulating Anthony Gitonga on the launch of his book “Rovering to Success” whose publication has been graciously supported by Kenya Scouts Association. It is an act of courage and I know it has been a journey of great faith as well. Let us all be open to support such works that help to advance what we the Scouting movement truly are about-and that is the empowerment of young people to play a constructive role in society!
I urge all Rovers Scouts to grab a copy of “Rovering as Intended”, READ and USE it as the companion, alongside the Rover Scout Programme Handbook on their journey in Rovering. And it is my sincere hope that you find it useful. Finally, as Baden Powell said so I say to you, “happiness is yours only if you paddle your canoe aright.” With all my heart, I wish you success and unforgettable experiences in your Scouting journey.
Thank you for your attention!
Nelson Ochieng Opany
National Youth Representative – Kenya Scouts Association