Scouts SA trains interns to be leaders

Ahmad Solomon is the project leader for the Scouts South Africa intern programme.

Scouts South Africa is bringing out a new class of interns who will work with the organisation in different schools for a year.

Their work varies from hiking Table Mountain to organising meetings with school principals.

There are 29 active interns in 15 different schools in Grassy Park, Lotus River, Athlone, Hout Bay, Masiphumelele, Retreat, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Ocean View .

Through the internship programme, unemployed youth who have not had a job since completing their matriculation, are recruited and placed in different schools as scout leaders. Scouting experience, however, is not necessary, said scouting training programme leader, Ahmad Solomon, from Wynberg.

“It’s very difficult going for job interviews because your CV is really just one page.

“The reality is that you don’t have the money to perhaps go and study further or you’re trying to apply for a bursary,” Mr Solomon said.

The internship programme is a game-changing venture for the scouts because the programme tends to focus on youth, said Scouts Western Cape Regional Commissioner, Paddy Milner, from Constantia.

“This particular initiative fills quite a big gap for youth in the 18 to 25 age group,” said Mr Milner.

The programme is set up to make interns more marketable when entering the work field by helping them gain skills and experience, Mr Solomon added.

“By training them in scouting methodology, by giving them organisational, planning skills and many of the other skills that are needed for working in the outdoors and working with kids, things like first aid, hiking, leadership, mountaineering, map reading, all these skills are being picked up and this will sit on their CV,” Mr Solomon said.

Twenty-one-year-old Wardah Dollie from Grassy Park will finish her internship in November and believes the skills she learned have prepared her for the workforce.

“I must be able (to use) what I’ve learned here in my workplace one day and I’ll hopefully be skilled enough and confident enough to guide and do the job that I’d like to do,” Ms Dollie said.

One of the scouts’ problems is finding leaders willing to volunteer their time and skills, since leaders are not paid. However, the scouts school programme helps alleviate that problem, Mr Milner said.

Ms Dollie is an example of the success of this method; she hopes to continue working with the scouts as a volunteer after her internship ends.

The new programme is beneficial on both ends – for pupils being recruited and for the interns. Pupils now have a sanctuary to go to after school and interns are able to improve their leadership skills.

“The after-school space is a vulnerable space for youngsters,” Mr Solomon said.

“By establishing scout groups at schools, we are able to combat this and develop what scouting has been doing all these years and that is (building) leadership among youth.”

Through scouting, they also hope to make a dent in the school dropout rate, Mr Solomon said. “Scouting provides a dynamic learning environment where children with different learning styles are able to flourish.

“It’s through a scouting programme that you’ll see how these other kids’ abilities and their talents just come to the fore,” he

Since the beginning of the scouting school programme, the organisation has increased its membership by 20 percent, now serving just over 700 children, and 50 interns will enter the job market, Mr Solomon said.