For the most part our school age boys and young men refuse from taking part in extracurricular activities. Involvement in uniform groups especially for our males has become a rarity in the Jamaican society. It was a rather refreshing sight to have seen a young man dressed in full scout uniform making his way to school last Friday while on my way to work. This occurrence signalled to me that all is not lost in Jamaica despite the harsh economic times and the struggles we face daily as a people.
As a society we need to revitalize the scouting movement in Jamaica and encourage our children especially our young men to get involved in positive extra-curricular activities such as this. Scouting was started in the early 1900,s by Robert Baden-Powell and is still very much relevant today as it was back then. The Scouting organization works towards giving young men the knowledge, skills and life lessons that will help them mature and succeed as they become adults. In an era when many of our boys are facing a crisis of masculinity, a sense of despair and under achievement, the scouting organization offers boys a variety of benefits including friendship, cooperation, leadership skills and character building. Too many of our boys are only interested in the “G Factor”, that is, guns, girls, gangs, ganja and gaza/gully (counted collectively). We need to work harder to expose and re-socialise our boys into other areas of the culture in order to have them as well rounded and productive members of the society.
With almost fifty per cent of Jamaican households headed by females, scouting can be used and should be used to bridge the gap to provide positive male role models to our boys. As more and more parents and guardians take on extra working hours in order to earn additional income to make ends meet we are most likely to see an increase in the need for safe and productive avenues for boys to get involved in some structured after school programme. Scouting should be in all our schools. However, too many of our schools do not have this offering; we must know ask ourselves why this is so and put measures in place to address this. Too many of Jamaica’s youths are at risk and are in need of rescuing.
As a worldwide brotherhood, Scouting is unique. It is based on the principles of loving and serving God, human dignity and the rights of individuals, and of recognizing the obligation of members to develop and use their potential.
In order for us to have a better society, a society in which we can live peacefully, as well as, raise families and work, we need to offer the necessary support and incentives to our uniformed groups and organizations to carry out their mandate of equipping the next generations with the necessary skills to help us realize the 2030 vision of become a developed society.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.