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Scouts build survival skills in young ones

In Bonaparte Avenue, Klein Parys, the little known 1st Paarl Scout Troop has been developing children with basic everyday life skills for well over 100 years.

This hidden gem, which celebrated its centenary in October 2009, enables cubs (ages 7-11) and scouts (12-17) to play constructive roles in society by teaching outdoor and survival skills in a “learning-by-doing” manner.

Scouting was started in 1907 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell. His vision was to create a better world. Scouting combines adventure with solid values that inspire you to leave the world a little better than you found it.

The non-profit-organisation will also be launching a new branch called Meerkats on 3 February that focuses on the early childhood development of boys and girls aged 5-7.

“They are taught basic skills like working safely with matches and the dangers of drinking chemicals. These are skills that we take for granted, yet so often read about [the tragedies] in the newspapers,” says Cedric Pienaar, the local scoutmaster.

The scouts also have specific projects like water conservation, recycling and HIV/Aids peer education initiatives to develop leadership and life skills. Often these themed projects are in partnership with other civil society or corporate partners.

1st Paarl Scout Troop secretary, Petra Botes, believes that self-discipline is more applicable in the modern world with children exposed to peer and social pressures like bullying.

“A scout is challenged to push his or her limits, get involved, explore their interests and discover the environment around them.”

The volunteers at the Paarl troop are mostly ex cubs/scouts. According to Pienaar, the volunteers undergo a police clearance and are never allowed to be with the little ones without another adult supervising.

For more information, contact 1stpaarlscoutgroup@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page.

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