I absolutely love Scouting and meeting people

We are excited to introduce Madita Bϋnnecke to you. Madita arrived in August and will be volunteering with the Western Cape School Scouting team as well as the national office.

SSA: Can you please tell us a bit more about yourself?
I’m Madita Alena Bϋnnecke, I am 18 years old and I come from Dortmund in Germany. I live there with my parents and my 16 year old brother.  I am a Scout, I love reading and experiencing great adventures. I always wanted to live in another country and experience Scouting in another culture.  I joined the Scouting Movement in 2009 in the DPSG group: “St. Franziskus Dortmund Mitte”. The group was founded in 1975 and my mother and uncle were Scouts there too. After a hiatus, the group re-opened in 2010 and my grandmother told me: “You have to go there! Scouts, that’s going to be an awesome experience for you!”

SSA: You have been in the German Scouting Movement for a while. Why is Scouting so special to you?
Scouting is special for me because my Group and my Rover Crew are like family to me. You can experience wonderful and exciting things and you know you are safe whilst doing that. My family has a long tradition in Scouting and I love hearing all the stories that the “old Scouts” tell. I also love all the evenings we sit at the campfire after a long day full of activities, games and duties. We are all tucked in warm blankets, sing songs and watch the flames in front of a beautiful night sky.

SSA: What makes Scouting different to all the other activities for teens?
Madita: Scouting teaches children a lot of important values and skills you often don’t find anywhere else. Scouts work together, are like a family and build a worldwide network. In Scouting you learn to achieve things, to be helpful and to be proud of what you have – or your Group has – achieved.

SSA: You must have many awesome memories, which one stands out for you?
 One of the most beautiful moments in Scouting for me is when we invest new members and say our promise together.  In my Group we do this once a year during a camp. One evening we sit in a circle around a camp fire with the Cubs, Scouts, Rovers and leaders. The two Scout Group leaders stand up, one holds the DPSG flag in his hands and the other calls the new members to the front, one by one.  The rest of your branch gets up and stand next to you in support of your promise. When the promise is made all the nervousness fades and you receive your scarf and badge.

SSA: What has been your toughest Scouting challenge?
During a camp we were blindfolded and our Troop Scouter drove us a few km away. When we could open our eyes again we were handed a map with markers where we should stop, a GPS device and one emergency phone. So we started to walk to all those places and made a photo, so we could prove, that we had been there. It was a pretty hot day and we thought some rain would be nice to cool down. After a few minutes, it began to rain and we were very happy about it. Some minutes later the rain stopped and it was hot again. We thought we might have some luck and wished for rain again. And the rain came. In the beginning very faint but it quickly grew into a terrible thunderstorm. It poured and poured, lightning and thunder brought us to our knees. We were on a field, nowhere to hide away, our clothes were soaking, the map just washed away. We couldn’t use the phone so we lay flat on the ground so nothing could happen to us. In the end we had to knock at almost every house to find our way back to our campsite. We were so happy to be back again!

SSA: So you have now decided to volunteer for a year at another Scout Association. Why volunteer for a year?
Although I had a good time at school, I wanted to experience something else before I would start studying for the profession I will hopefully love to do for the next 40 years. I absolutely love Scouting and when I found out that I could do a volunteer year organised by my Scout organisation, at another Scout organisation, I was totally keen to apply for it. It could give me the opportunity to see how Scouting is different in other countries and to connect to a lot of people.

SSA: Why did you pick South Africa?
I only applied to volunteer at one organisation and the destinations were either South America or South Africa. Because I can’t speak Spanish, South Africa was the only option and I was very happy about that. I then had the chance to go to the national office in Cape Town or the regional office in Mpumalanga. I decided I would rather like to experience Cape Town, for it is a very big, colourful and international city.

SSA: What are you looking forward to the most?
I am looking forward to having a wonderful time in the office, to getting involved in Scouting in the Western Cape and to take home a lot of ideas, impressions and memories. I would really enjoy meeting a lot of new people who can make my life a little better and whose lives I can make a teeny tiny bit better too.

SSA: What activities do you enjoy e.g. sailing, hiking, etc…
I really love hiking, just taking a walk, reading, camping, Scout meetings and a lot more!

SSA: Since your arrival, you have experienced the Gordon Shield competition. What stood out for you?
I was really happy that I could take part in the Gordon’s Shield Competition. I met a lot of kind people, had my first insights in Scouting and a lot of fun! Scouting here is very different than Scouting in Germany and I am very curious and eager to learn more. I was very surprised when I found out about the patrol system and that those young children had no adult supervision. I learned that I could eat bright pink sausages and that the Scouts are already very skilled and level-headed.

SSA: In addition to volunteering at the office, are you planning to explore SA a bit?
I already went to Montague with my host family and I really enjoyed my time there. I hope I can see some more of South Africa because the few things I have seen, have shown me what a beautiful country this is.

SSA: Our Chief Scout says that adventure teaches you how to be a great leader. Would you agree with this?
I totally agree with this statement, because adventures are something you don’t experience every day. Those are special situations in which you have to be confident, creative, strong, helpful, flexible and convincing to find a good solution for yourself and your Group. Those are skills a leader needs.

SSA: What is the one thing people should know about you here in SA?
People should know that I am often pretty straightforward and that I never intend to offend anyone!