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Wayne's reflection on World Scouting

I make no secret of the fact that I consider time spent in conferences and gatherings such as the World Scout Conference in Brazil as an obligation of being UK Chief Commissioner.

However, it’s sometimes hard to adjust to different ways of doing things, spending six days to do something that could be done well in three just isn’t my style. And then there is the politics!

A world of opportunities

Being a member of a worldwide movement is fabulous – the opportunities it offers our young people through jamborees, moots, group exchanges and solidarity projects to name a few are truly life shaping. We have seen this week many projects where Scouting plays a pivotal role in educating young people, providing them with a purpose and with leadership opportunities in promoting peace. Or, in the event of disaster such as in Haiti, where Scouts in the country have been helped by Scouts et Guides de France, and for ourselves through ShelterBox, for example, to be at the forefront of the emergency response and reconstruction of their whole community.

Helping others

We have also taken advantage of the Conference to meet with other National Scout Organisations (NSOs) and their representatives to discuss a wide variety of topics and issues. A good example covering many aspects is with Uganda where we met their Chief Scout and Chief Executive and other members of their delegation. Some of you may recall the Unite project of 20 years ago where in the UK we raised money to help HIV aids education in Uganda. Today, they are interested in the progress we have made with rejuvenation of our youth programmes and recruitment and training of adults, and how we could use this experience to assist them. We discussed ways in which we can help them develop and overcome their challenges and they have also asked for further help with the continuance of their HIV aids education programme and their Food for Life initiative. We were also able to discuss more sensitive issues such as the concerns we recently expressed regarding human rights in their country and actions that are being undertaken in that respect.

The other side of cultural differences

But then there was the issue of Scout-focused governance and constitutional matters, where the myriad of cultures and languages that make Scouting such an amazing opportunity for personal development can also present massive obstacles around some core principles. We may take these for granted in the UK (such as human rights and youth involvement) but the compromises required for agreement of a single worldwide statement often end in a weak or meaningless position. We saw this on Friday where a proposed resolution from the full conference on human rights was withdrawn by the proposer and, after some hasty consultations, replaced with a statement from the World Scout Committee which, whilst being something we would all sign up to, lacked any new meaningful impact or sanction.
Of course, this is not unique to Scouting: all of these challenges can frequently be seen in the United Nations and other supra-national organisations. Perhaps it all just goes with 'the territory', but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

The darker side

And then there is the 'politics' - the behind-the-scenes haggling, bartering and threats from some proponents of particular positions offering promises or threatening to withdraw their support or even their funding if their particular views do not prevail. Don’t get me wrong, there is a proper place for 'active engagement' and appropriate lobbying – both of which we certainly do - but what we don’t do are the threats and bullying: it is unfortunate to experience that this approach is not in the same place for everybody. This is certainly an aspect that most disillusions me about Scouting, whether locally or even at the World level: some people seem to forget our fundamental principles.

Good progress on the way forward

On the whole however, it has been a great week with WOSM now having a clear strategy for Scouting and methods of working to support NSOs – essentially a light touch 'centre' providing tailored services to NSOs depending on their needs. At the end of the day, you can only effect change from within and we are therefore very grateful to John May (now Vice-Chair of the World Scout Committee) and Craig Turpie (Chair of the European Scout Committee) and others who have committed their considerable talents to further WOSM for the benefit of young people across the world.

What really matters

And that’s what really matters at the end of the day, opportunities for young people. Also, in between our formal sessions and meetings, Derek and I took time to look at our UK domestic agenda. One area we were struck by was how we might use global opportunities to help develop the Scout Network section further. Watch this space




By Dan Wood
on 19/01/2011 17:35

Hi Wayne,

I strongly commend your continued commitment to openly sharing reflections such as this (including frustrations!) and to constructively engaging in discussion with (and beyond) our membership. By doing this you are practicing transparency and accountability, and promoting participation. Simultaneously you are demonstrating and building trust and respect. What a good example to set for Scouting at all levels!

You should continue to be encouraged in your ongoing, confident efforts to help the Association be more transparent, accountable and participative in all its dealings at all levels. Judging by how this contrasts with the "darker side" of the World Conference you mentioned your example is all the more apposite and timely. It is a reminder to us all, thank you. As well as the emerging internal comms strategy which you have mentioned in your blog a few times, can a wider view be taken of how to further extend and embed these principles (greater transparency, accountability, participation) in all we do? There's obviously good practice already (nationally especially), but I think there's probably even more that would be practically helpful, especially if these could really become integral to our culture as an organisation.

I would be interested in the review/evaluation of the Association's engagement on the issue of Human Rights and the resolution put forward. Clearly, the outcome this time was terribly frustrating and didn't go nearly far enough. The point you make about such frustrating deliberations not being unique to Scouting is of course true. Although, it is salutary to note that the UN Declaration was proclaimed by the General Assembly as long ago as 1948 (with only 8 abstentions). How far have we come since then? No doubt in reviewing our role, we will rigorously examine our conscience and the nature/style of TSA(UK) strategy/leadership on this issue to see if there was anything more/differently that should/could have done in this case and/or which should done in future? In 2011, it is desperately sad, a travesty even, that World Scouting does not seem able to have reached a more progressive agreement on such a matter despite what is so frequently exhorted about our lofty principles and WOSM's global unity. Moreover, the behaviours you describe call for a proper review and open dialogue towards how, over time, more ethical and responsible behaviours in our governance forums might be engendered.

I hope this serves at least to motive a redoubling of our own efforts domestically and internationally, with education, collaboration and examples remaining at the core of our contribution. Your observation about the potential for better engaging Scout Network members in global opportunities sounds really promising as do the examples you mention under "helping others". Whilst "effecting change from within", hopefully, we can lead and promote greater, transparency, accountability and participation. A more engaged membership would, I believe be exercised in shaping the direction and development of the Movement on issues such as human rights, including demanding greater accountability of its leaders at all levels in exercising their power and responsibilities. If we can better enable this (through a variety of mechanisms and in a variety of ways), then there will also be a much wider, constructive and rich dialogue of experience and expertise to draw from in shaping decisions, more reflective of the full diversity of the global community and true to our highest ideals. I hope we can do even more to stimulate and nurture appreciative and respectful dialogue and inquiries that enable and encourage differences to peacefully coexist and be valued throughout Scouting. It is a hugely relevant human challenge which goes far beyond Scouting, and which should be core to our educational proposition towards "responsible world citizenship".

In short, thank you to all of you who took the time to diligently represent the Association, for your patience and your persistence. Lots done, much still to do! Keep the blog posts coming, please Wayne?!

All the very best,


By Alan K B Beavis OBE
on 20/01/2011 21:36

Thank you for your observations, it is nice to know that our support to the Uganda Scout Association is appreciated and continues and I am sure that the scouts from Berkshire will benifit from their project in the summer

By David Bull
on 22/01/2011 08:15

Thanks for all the feedback from the World Scout Conference. I've followed it with great interest.

I was very pleased to see your comments on making sure that we remember our principles when dealing with each other - bullying to get our way or demonising those who don't share our views is not how we operate at any level, whether in the Group/District or nationally and internationally.

By Moses Engadu
on 25/01/2011 14:29

Dear Wayne,

One day, says the legend, a huge forest fire broke out. All animals, terrified and appalled, observed the disaster without doing anything. Only a small hummingbird bustled, fetching some drops of water with its beak to throw them on the fire. After a moment, the armadillo, irritated by this ridiculous agitation, said: "Hummingbird! Are you crazy? It is not with these few drops of water that you will extinguish the fire!" And the hummingbird answered: "I know but I would have done my part of the job!"

Wayne thank you for the "Few Drops of Water". You together with TSA team at the WSC 2011 did an amazing job. I am personally impressed with your recollection on helping others, about the meeting we (Uganda Scouts Association) held with you! Indeed it was refreshing to know that there are more things that we shall be working together on!

I share with you the frustrations. Just like you observed, the World we live in today is full of contradictions. On one side scientific and technological developments have exponentially increased wealth, interconnectedness and interchanges. On the other side we assist to increasing disparities among the rich and the poor, with millions of people still living in infra-human conditions. The worsening conditions of our planet Earth cannot be overlooked, with global climate change and alarming human and natural disasters. Increasing intolerance and prevarication, lead to social tensions, conflicts and war.

But despite that we (Uganda Scouts Association) believe that working together with The Scout Association, through providing the present and future generations (young people) opportunities to increase their awareness and critical thinking; breaking all barriers of intolerance and discrimination and helping our Scouts to develop human relationships based on cooperation and solidarity, rather than on competition and exploitation.

I am sure that together we can make a difference by meeting the needs and aspiration of our respective young people through a liberating education able to raise awareness and move young people into action and assisting these young people (Scouts) to develop 'projects of Social change' and 'sharing experiences and resources' with other young people and Scout groups all over the world.

We at Uganda Scouts Association are excited about the future and look forward to working closely with The Scout Association as we prepare for 100 Years of Scouting in Uganda in 2015!

All the best!

Moses Engadu
Director Resource Mobilization and Capacity Building
Uganda Scouts Association

By Christopher Dean UK Project Leader, Scouts of the World Award
on 26/01/2011 18:08

Dear Wayne

I must confess that I am not a regular reader of Wayne's 'Blog', but your 'reflection on World Scouting' was candidly refreshing.

The final paragraph has a special resonance for the team which is working hard to introduce the Scouts of the World Award as an integral part of the Scout Network programme. As you say what really matters is opportunities for young people, and this truly global award with its roots in the UN Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals is just the challenge to inspire those in the 18-25 age group.

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