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Friday, February 18, 2005

Scouting for out-of-school youths

by Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
January 31, 2005 posted at www.thefreeman.com

The Cebu City government has some piece of good news beneficial to out-of-school youth as well as to the other sectors in society interconnected with them with the declaration of 16 urban barangays as pilot areas for the neighborhood scouting program that aims to provide a scheme for community organizations offering effective character, citizenship, and personal fitness training for young boys aged 12 to 17 years old.

The scouting movement expands from being school-based to now include the out-of-school-youths through informal scouting.

A report said that two representatives from each of the 16 city barangays would serve as troop leaders in their respective communities in Tejero, Lorega, Hipodromo, Capitol Site, Kalubihan, Luz, San Nicolas Proper, Carreta, T. Padilla, Sta. Cruz, Suba, Mabolo, Camputhaw, Sambag II, San Roque, and Ermita.

Kudos to those who pushed for the program as this supports a worldwide movement that’s “never to perish from under the sky” (a phrase from the scouts chant “Scouting alone shall live!”).

It is already nearly a decade since the Boy Scouting movement began at an encampment on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbor, England with a group of 22 boys brought together by Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell who had captured the imagination of the youth of Great Britain through his military exploits and book “Aids to Scouting”.

The scouting movement later on spread through America and the rest of the continents successfully started programs for boys based on nature lore, pioneering skills, hiking, and camping.

But above this, the neighborhood scouting program to be tested in the city’s pilot sites hopes to engage the youth not only in outdoor endeavors or challenge courses. Through experiential education, the young boys’ skills are developed and tapped to create livelihood opportunities that would fight off the destructive domino effect of socio-economic issues and pressures.

Though it has been reported that there was a decrease in the figure of juvenile offenders from 1,895 in 2003 to 1,543 last year based on the 2004 city police records, it is still alarming to be seeing our youth being steered by lawless elements into the illegal drug trade as peddlers and or couriers; to see them roam our streets begging; engaged in theft or to be sniffing from cellophanes some milliliters of adhesive liquid. Our children’s predicaments are reflections of our society’s sores and nonchalance. Something has to be done, indeed! The supposed backbone of the next generation is on the verge of decay.

The scouting program has for decades been here, this program for the out-of-school-youths is long overdue.

While it is true that a strong outdoor program is the core of the boy scouting movement, the neighborhood scouting program must go far beyond the camping and hiking stuff. What outdoor service is called for here is the boys’ involvement in their communities in times of emergencies, natural disasters, and civic events.
The first set of World War scouts were instrumental in the selling of Liberty Bonds and Stamps, they collected metal and paper to be recycled, distributed literature, planted Victory gardens, collected wood, served as Civil Defense messengers, organized emergency corps to serve the community and aided the Red Cross.

We are now called to nurture the out-of-school-youths by tapping their potentials that are by no means of lesser value to that of those who are in formal school. These people out of school have all the time resources. The recognition of their value, their precious contribution to building a Strong Republic, and an appreciation for their availability in civic action would save the future backbone of the economy from fading into waste.

(For your comments, reactions, suggestions, and contributions, crank up my addy: pinay_mangatkatay@yahoo.com. All things must perish from under the sky, scouting alone shall live!)