FEBRUARY 23, 2014

Today, we conclude our celebration of Founder’s Week which commemorates the birth of Lord Robert Baden-Powell.  He wrote a book entitled “Scouting for Boys” inspired this worldwide movement. This book inspired the late Rev. J.W. Graham to bring scouting to Jamaica in 1910.  It was the same year in which Lord Robert retired from the British Army and formally began organizing the global Scouts movement.

This movement is a character grooming organisation has long surpassed the innocent steps taken by the first troop of scouts who marched the streets of Brown’s Town.  Today, the Association is on a daunting, but achievable mission, to reclaim our youth from the perilous paths which are unfolding before them. Throughout the week of celebration your theme has declared your noble objective: “Scouting on a Mission – Recovering our Young People.”

Regrettably, we are experiencing a constant decay in the values and morals of many of our people, both young and old.  We have experienced the erosion of fundamental values such as respect for self and for our fellowmen, self confidence, honesty and discipline; and you know that absence of these values underlie the social-ills which plague our nation. Too many seem to have become tolerant of the high levels of indiscipline and corruption we have seen in our country.

We resort too easily to violent acts. Too often, heinous crimes seem to be committed by persons who give not even a second thought to the lives they have destroyed. This monster of crime threatens to destroy completely any evidence of the caring, productive and peaceful Jamaica which we need it to be! Jamaicans, we must unite to try to prevent these crimes and bring criminals to justice!

Sadly, it is our children who hurt the most, as not only do they inherit the results of misguided or criminal actions,  but are also either physical or psychological victims of those actions. Unless we counter them with remedial measures and provide effective mentorship and counselling, we run the risk of creating a vicious cycle.

It is here that the leadership of our scouts must play a critical role.  They must be relentless in their efforts to inculcate scouting disciplines in our youth all across Jamaica. This mission for the recovery of our youth is urgent and it merits the full support of all of us who are concerned for the future of our country.  I charge all Scouts, especially the Leaders, to honour your Pledge by being faithful to your “Duty to God, duty to self and duty to others.”

I charge this Association and its members to continue in service to country and to fellowmen as together we strive for the prosperity of our nation and the wellbeing of our people.

God bless you all!