Helping children stand tall and be prepared

In 2019 we introduced a forth Scouting branch, namely the Meerkats. The Meerkats is an ECD programme that aims to support the development of children aged 5 to 6. With our youngest members firmly standing tall, we met up with Craig Rens, our Chair: National Meerkat Programme.

Craig is no stranger to Scouting. He has been in the Movement since he was 7 years old and holds his Leaping Wolf and Wood Badge. “I grew up here. I have been a Cub, a Scout, and a Rover. I’ve also held various positions within four Scout Groups,” he says with pride. “For decades Scouting has been running programmes for young children and has embraced the fact that learning skills and values at a young age, prepares them for life – even before life happens. This is a premise that I hold dear. The Law & Promise have always been a measure in my life and also while working in the bank and church, Honour is important, along with doing my best for God, those around me, and myself. What I learnt as a Cub is still just as relevant today, even if first aid has developed and the number of compressions to breaths have changed, it still saves lives.”

Craig has been in integral member of the Meerkat Programme development team under the guidance of Meerkat Ambassador and Silver Protea recipient Sherley Southworth. “Meerkats came out of a need for a quality programme for children of ECD age. Its main focus is to develop helpful, well rounded young people! Children are learning and developing social lives much earlier than before and families have busier lives. Parents don’t always know what to do or how to relate to their children and the Meerkat programme provides an opportunity for parents and children to spend time together, learning through play“, he explains. “I would like to build up strong teams in the Regions to develop and grow the newest branch of our Movement, putting in place a platform at Group & District level that allows Den Scouters to set a firm foundation for a lifetime of Scouting Adventure.”

Being involved in Scouting is something that is ingrained in Craig’s family. “My brothers and I were all involved in Cub’s and Scouts, and we have been involved numerous times since. My daughter Sarah started as a Meerkat in Granny Meerkat’s Den, and soon after we started our own Den, with Mandy, my wife, as Den Scouter. Sarah is now a Cub and Mandy is a Warranted Den Scouter. As a professional, a family man, a member of church and a Scout volunteer there is always a delicate balance. It’s not always easy, but I try to assign value in that order while doing my best to honour God. We are involved as a family in church and Scouts, so get to spend time together while serving,” he says pensively.

So why does Craig invest so much of himself into Scouting? “Young people are important in our community. I have seen too often what happens when parents don’t care, and teenagers are left to wonder shopping centres, etc alone over weekends. Volunteering and building into the lives of young people is rewarding as you see girls and boys, grow up to be respectable mature men and women.”

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