Enabling Scouting youth to enact meaningful change

Written by Mtha Nazo, youth influencer 

In January 2024 Jonathan Pienaar took over the role as National Young Leaders Representative. As her last story as Youth Influencer, Mtha Nazo chatted with Jonathan about Scout adventures, leadership, and real change.

“I first heard about Scouts from my parents. They both met through Scouting and encouraged my brothers and I to get involved. After visiting the 1st Bryanston Cub Pack for a few weeks, I could not wait to get into uniform! I really enjoyed the interactive Friday meetings which taught me some valuable life skills. During my visiting period I managed to make a lot of friends who all made joining the Pack really easy. I felt at home at the Group. After that, I never left”, he says with a smile.

“Over the years there have been so many adventures which have left me with so many memories! Every camp, hike, and activity I have taken part in, all have their special moment. Some of my favourite Scouting memories are completing the 116th Lexden PLTU course, attending the 24th World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia in the United States, hiking the Cederberg as part of the Senior Scout Adventure, and representing the Africa Scout Region at the Kandersteg International Scout Centre for the International Rover Week. Scouting has provided me the opportunity to experience the world in a way that cannot be provided anywhere else.”

You often hear people say, “Scouting teaches skills”. But what does that mean for Jonathan? “Scouting has taught me so much over the years. Of course, the traditional Scouting skills have played a huge part in my life. Pioneering large structures allowed me to explore my love for engineering, mapping taught me how to explore the wilderness safely, First Aid taught me how to handle stressful situations, and community service gave me an opportunity to give back to others and contribute to creating a better world. But Scouting has also taught me soft skills. Leadership, public speaking, project management, people skills are skills which I expect to use throughout my life. The most important thing Scouting has taught me over the years are a set of morals and values with which I can carry myself. I do my best to live by the Promise and Law.”

Jonathan has held various youth leadership roles from being to Gauteng Regional Young Leaders Rep, to being a Youth Representative for World Scouting’s Africa Region. What does leadership mean to him? “For me, leadership is all about setting the example. Many people today enjoy delegating tasks without willing to get their hands dirty. When I became part of the Young Leader’s team, I was excited at the prospect of being involved in a more local capacity of Scouting. As an Africa Youth representative, we are often involved in advocacy and decision making at a very high level which affects multiple NSOs. As a Young Leader representative, I can have a meaningful influence on a more local level of Scouting which can sometimes reflect change in a more meaningful way.”

If one of your peers outside of the Movement asks you for a reason to join? What do you say? “The experience. Scouting is a Worldwide Movement which currently has over 57 million young people involved from all corners of the globe. The opportunity to meet new people, understand other cultures, and share resources across the globe is something that many countries from around the world aim for. Scouting means that wherever I go around the world, there will always be fellow Scouts willing to learn all about South Africa’s culture and what makes our country so special.”