Today we recognize worldwide the birthday of our Founder, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, who was born on February 22, 1857 and, until his death in 1941, worked tirelessly to support the world Scout movement. This date also has significant meaning for us in ScoutsTT, as it marks the anniversary of the first scout investiture held in Trinidad and Tobago.
More than a century and a half since his birth, his indelible imprint on the world has grown exponentially. I am sure our Founder would be proud that his Movement now has some 40 million Members worldwide, with a presence in 216 countries. It is the largest and longest running youth development organisation in the world.
Our theme for this year’s celebration is “Duty Bound, Honour Driven”. This speaks to the core essence of Scouting’s purpose – Character. Scouting, in general, has a greater purpose than just providing a fun experience for youth. Baden-Powell once said, "Look above the level of things around you and see a higher aim and possibility to your work."
Today, therefore, let us take inspiration from his words, look beyond our limits, and act to create a better world. Let us all strive to live to that higher standard that BP calls us to. In these trying times Scouting offers hope to a society seeking answers. Today we reaffirm that Scouting is the “Proven Alternative”.
Ours is a movement that develops young persons along mental, physical and spiritual lines, complementing their formal education, teaching them reliability, instilling in them a sense of honour, a sense of fair play and a sense of active citizenship. The Law and Promise that govern the movement behoves the scout to be "trusty, loyal and helpful; brotherly, courteous, kind; obedient smiling and thrifty; pure in body and mind."
However, as we speak, our young men, who should be in pursuit of the aforementioned, are languishing in our prisons "burning" their time. Young people in our high schools and colleges indulge in drugs, violence and other unacceptable behaviours. Young men inhabit our community blocks, having dropped out of school, dazzled by the heavy gold chains and the expensive cars sported by the drug dealers they idolize.
Frederick Douglass once noted, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” The statement is simple, profound and as true as truth can be. And yet we as a society and as individual families neglect the building, facilitate the breaking and balk at the cost and commitment of the repair.
Today is an opportunity for not only Scouts, but our wider community to reflect on the choice for a way forward. An opportunity for us to invest in the timeless values and principles that underpin Scouting. To invest in a proven methodology that has been a foundation for many of our nation’s leaders and contributors. A movement that has, like no other, positively contributed to the development of sound character – men and women of honour, of substance. Active citizens in every field of endeavour, who recognize their individual responsibility to their community and to creating a better world.
Today I invite all of our scouts and guides, both past and present, to reflect on our promise and law – the light that shines our path to a nobler, more honourable and duty-bound way of life. Today we must re-commit and re-dedicate ourselves to those uplifting sentiments that makes Scouting the force for good that it is in this world.
Happy Founders day to you all and God Bless.