ADDRESSS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE MOST HONOURABLE SIR PATRICK ALLEN, ON, GCMG, CD AT THE SCOUT ASSOCIATION OF JAMAICA’S PUBLIC MEETING

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen.

A very Good Afternoon to you all!

Lady Allen and I warmly welcome you to King’s House for our annual Public Meeting of the Scout Association of Jamaica, an important activity to mark Founder’s Week.  We always value every opportunity to interact with the youth of our country, who are tomorrow’s leaders and productive, responsible citizens of our nation.

Although Rev. Barrington Soares is unavoidably absent this afternoon, I use this opportunity to express my appreciation to him for the service he rendered to the Scout Association of Jamaica while serving as Chief Commissioner from 2007 to 2013.  I thank him for the leadership he gave, as well as his efforts to ensure the continuity of the Association.  We will not forget his service.

Chief Commissioner Maurice Brown: Let me I officially welcome you to the position, and wish for you a successful tenure. Thank you for accepting the mantle, thereby committing yourself to the development of our youth through scouting. You now lead that vision for the strengthening of scouting all across Jamaica.  Into your hand we place the Association and it is now dependent upon you to keep the ship steady and as you build the organization.  I am confident that you and your team can surmount the challenges that emerge from time to time.

Ladies and gentlemen, scouts, I am pleased to see the approximately seven hundred students who participated in the walk along the streets of the Corporate Area and who are now in the audience. You all deserve a round of applause!  Your march made an important and powerful statement to the onlookers on the streets and this afternoon, your presence here repeats that message to all of us on this ground.

That message is about discipline, deportment, respect for authority and is a visible indication that our youth can be trained, can be cooperative as well as respectful.  Let us imagine how much more advanced our country would be if all our youth, all across this nation, were as disciplined as you are!   What a great nation we would have.

As Chief Scout, I am heartened to be associated with this association that still has relevance and value after more than one hundred years since its inception.   Perhaps the main reason for its longevity and its appeal to students is embodied in its mission:

“…to develop good citizenship among boys and girls,

forming their character, training them in habits of

observation, obedience and self reliance, inculcating

loyalty and thoughtfulness for others, teaching them

services useful to the country and skills useful

to themselves.”

I can state, without reservation, that there is no element of that statement that is outdated, irrelevant, or oppressive.   On the contrary, I believe that every Jamaican youth should have this scouting experience as part of his/her upbringing.  This is why I fully support the vision for the expansion of scouting in our country. I am convinced scouting will help to prepare our youth to become disciplined and responsible adults who will contribute to Jamaica’s growth, safety and security.

Scouts, today I challenge you to do the following:

  1. Take full advantage of your membership in the Scout Association of Jamaica by learning as much as you can and by fully participating in all the activities.  It is helping you to build character, to acquire important skills, to love your country and to be your brother’s keeper.  It provides you with many opportunities for fun while you learn, grow and develop.

 

  1. I challenge you and encourage to urge your friends to become members of the Scout movement so that they too can benefit from that positive experience.

 

  1. I urge you to share what you have learnt with your families and friends so that they will understand the path you have chosen and support you whenever and wherever necessary.

 

My primary reason for asking you to take these actions is simply this:  I believe that you, boys and girls, can help to make the difference in reducing the level of crime and indiscipline in our homes, in our schools and consequently in the wider society. The lessons in obedience, discipline, collaboration, cooperation and thoughtfulness will enable you to become peaceful persons.

Peaceful discussions, mediation and other conflict resolution measures must be your first choice in settling arguments.    Do not resort to violence.  It should not be an option.  The more persons who reject violence, the lower our crime rate would be and our country would grow and prosper.

This year’s theme, “Scouting on a Mission – Recovering our Young People”, speaks to all Jamaica about a mission we must all embrace. Unfortunately some of our young people have gone astray as they succumbed to the lure of negative influences such as drugs, cybercrime, gangs and violence.

But it is critical that all parents, teachers, guardians, heads and staff of children’s homes, as well as others who care for our youth, unite in this duty to impress on our youth the importance of following positive paths.

This is no time for the blame game, hopelessly shedding tears, or watching and waiting to see what others will do. Mother Teresa once remarked that when we see a dirty room, we do not call a committee meeting to find out what to do; we simply grab a broom and sweep.

Your “broom” is the talent or the opportunity which God has given to you. Let us recommit to creative and effective use of our talents and opportunities to help our youth become the best that they can be!

The Scout Association of Jamaica is a positive channel which can be used to influence our children for good. And so I appeal to all adults to support them in any way that you can.

We need more volunteers to serve as Scout Leaders and more Principals, school boards, churches and communities to seize the initiative to establish scouting groups. We need to you to continue as scouts when you get to high school.  I am certain that Commissioner Brown and his team would enthusiastically provide their support.

My very best wishes to the members of the Scout Association of Jamaica, their leaders and those receiving awards and warrants this afternoon!   Jamaica needs you and what you have to offer, now more than ever!

Thank you.