The Barbados Boy Scouts Association needs men to mentor young male members, and is similarly desperate for money to carry out its programmes aimed at moulding the minds of pre-teens and teenagers.
These requirements were made clear over the weekend when newly appointed Chief Scout, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, and Chief Commissioner Nigel Taylor bestowed honours on more than 60 members in the LV Harcourt Lewis Auditorium at the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union in Belmont Road.
While Sir Marston announced a plan to make the 106-year-old movement more attractive to men, Taylor spoke of an organization so short of funds that hosting of the National Awards Ceremony had suffered delays until last Saturday because there was not enough money to buy the medals.
Women have for many years far outnumbered men in the Barbados Boy Scouts Association, and the Chief Scout made clear his appreciation for their service, even as he called for men to enlist in the uniformed and non-uniformed service to help the nation’s boys.
“Don’t get me wrong, ladies. We are grateful for you being here, because without you we would not even be as far as we are now,” he said to the women who equalled the number of males assembled for leadership awards.
Making known his concern about the image of boys and young men appearing in the law courts and on the front pages of newspapers, the Chief Justice said: “I have enough belief in the Scout movement that I think that this movement – along with other movements – is certainly one of the indicators of where our boys can go. And what we need first is for men to step up and to be guiders of those boys.”
Sir Marston, who was recently confirmed as Chief Scout by Governor General and Patron of the Scouts Association, Dame Sandra Mason, said he had informed her that “it would be part of my mission to try to get men to come back into the association”.
“We don’t need perfect men. We just need men who believe that we have to cultivate the next generation to whom we hand this nation over,” he said. “You don’t need to be men who used to be in the Scout movement; they could be entirely new to the idea of scouting.”
The Chief Scout promised the introduction of programmes to make scouting and mentoring of boys within the movement something to which men are attracted.
“We are going to rebrand this movement so that it becomes more interesting, more rewarding, so that the men in Barbados can see that in being a part of the movement they’re helping to build good citizens who will contribute to making sure that the fields and hills continue to be our own and we can continue to move upwards and onwards,” he added.
But the Boy Scouts Association, like any other organization, requires money to conduct programmes.
Chief Commissioner Taylor brought that point to the fore when he explained that the last Saturday evening function ought to have been held in 2017.
“These awards should have been presented last year but we able to accumulate the funds to get them for you only this year,” he said, explaining that the association’s executive had to push hard for the ceremony to ensure that the deserving outstanding members and other contributors would be properly decked out in their medals for Founder’s Day service next month.
He also highlighted training as another area badly in need of financing.
“Training in Barbados can easily go, per year, to almost $100,000…and that’s why funding is so important – for us to train you so that you can train the boys.”