2020 is the tenth year that I have been a member of the Worldwide Scouting movement. I thought it would be apt that I do a little reflection on the last ten years. I am often reminded in many ways of the ties I have with scouting, be it the wonderful people I meet and still interact with, or the little things on my desk and the uniforms in my wardrobe.
My personal relationship with the Singapore Scout Association has been a love-hate relationship, and I believe we are now in the “hate” phase. I always felt that the Association was run as a top-heavy organisation, with many older leaders and commissioners creating policies and leading the organisation in a way that it didn’t feel very much like a youth organisation. To a certain extent is was a very toxic and political scene. While I choose to believe that many were good-hearted people, there were times were it certainly did not seem that way to me. There were backstabbing, lies, hatred and possibly even (what it felt like) corruption going on within the top ranks, especially when it came to awards and events. There was a lot of effort put it to make it seem good while people were racing to the top commissioner posts through underhand methods.
As a younger boy, some of these things felt confusing and frustrating. I was, up till about age 15, heavily protected from the Association’s politics by my leaders and it it something I am grateful for. These bad things, had I known of them earlier, would have seriously undermined my passion for scouting.
The Disputable Neutral
The youth progression scheme was the main programme that scouts followed, some more religiously than others. There were awards and badges given for a certain number of tasks completed, each with increasing difficulty. While I throughly enjoyed the Cub Scout scheme (for Primary School), I can’t say the same for the Scout scheme (in Secondary School). Each task, for example: Prepare a full course meal for 2 scouts without using utensils, were judged by your own leaders on whether you had demonstrated enough skill or effort that warranted a pass. This was the case up to the Pinnacle Awards.
Each section has a Pinnacle Award. The Cub Scouts (9-12) has the Akela Award, Scouts (13-16) had the Chief Commissioner’s Award and Ventures (17-19) has the President’s Scout Award. Personally, I reached the “pinnacle” for both Cub Scouts and Scouts. There were some within the organisation that didn’t believe in putting in effort for these awards, while there were people like myself, who pushed ourselves to attain that ‘standard’. On hindsight I ask myself, “I have reached this stage, but at what cost?” It seemed that the higher up the progression ladder I climbed, the more my eyes were opened to the horrible pain which I have had myself exposed to. My passion for this co-curricular activity started to wavier and I began to doubt my decision to stay on in this.
Scouting provides the opportunity to meet different people from different walks of life. I have formed friendships and acquaintances with people I would not have otherwise met, if not for a scout event we were both at. The patrol system of 6-8 boys in a group definately help form strong friendships. These were the people I went through every tough time together, and had fun times together. These were memories I forged and will always remember. If there was a piece of advice I could give my younger self, it would be to treasure the friends I made in scouts and forget all about the progression. The useless cloth badges mean nothing compared to friends.
My leaders were also a blessing to my scout group and me. They personally cared about each of us and would help us to become better persons. In other words, they weren’t just CCA teachers-in-charge. They were Scout leaders, and leaders whom I strongly believe should replace the power-hungry men at the top of the Association today.
These people continue to reignite my scouting flame, wherever and whenever it may get diminished.
I am still a member of Soaring Eagles. And I will probably still be for the forseeable future. The saying goes: Once a Scout, Always a Scout”. I believe it my responsibilty to give back to the scouting community and wider public community, through scouting for all the good I have received in the last 10 years.
Be Prepared ⚜️ and may the force be with you always.