Scouts built his character

2012-11-13 00:00

AN Empangeni school teacher, Sabelo Hlophe, has been recognised by Scouts South Africa for more than 30 years of service to the movement.

But, Hlophe believes it is he who should be grateful to the Scouts, stating it was his involvement in the movement that has helped build his character, today.

At a special ceremony held in Durban in October he was awarded with a 30-year- honorary award by the KZN Scouts Association for his service to the organisation.

Hlophe (54) joined the Scouts in 1968, aged 10. He was living in Swaziland where his father was a priest at the time.

“It was part of my character building. I later continued with Scouts in South Africa and the irony of it all was although apartheid purposely tried to divide the races in South Africa, Scouts was an inclusive organisation and through it I have built strong friendships with a variety of people,” said Hlophe.

In total he has been involved in scouting for 44 years which includes his formative years.

He said the movement experienced a decline in membership post-1994, but that it was in a process of “resurrecting” itself using the same principles and life training exercises that has made it a worldwide organisation.

“It teaches youngsters about the outdoors, survival skills and nature. We still teach traditional techniques such as reading a compass and mapping. The beauty about the programme remaining the same is that I can naturally impart my knowledge,” said Hlophe.

A teacher for over 20 years and currently based at Grantham Park Primary school, Hlophe has taught in Swaziland, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

He said although Scouts has remained traditional in its roots, the organisation, previously a boys-only organisation, now accepts girls.

Scouting in KZN has been in existence for over 100 years, according to the KZN Scouting website.

It exists in 216 countries and involves 28 million young people.

The South African Scouting Association is the country’s largest youth movement.

KZN Scouting is currently involved with over 350 school-based groups and over 100 000 scouts in the province.

Activities include camping, bushcraft, abseiling, overnight hiking, rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, sailing and parachuting, and scouts also get involved in performing arts, leadership development, community service, and environmental projects.

Hlophe has been through all the child scout’s branches from cub scout to senior scout and held childhood scout leadership positions of assistant patrol leader; patrol leader; assistant troop leader; and troop leader.

“Scouting is made possible with the support of volunteers and parents, but it is the children who are given the responsibility to lead,” said Hlophe.

He is currently the Empangeni regional commissioner and has held the post of the KZN provincial commissioner in the past.

Grantham Park principal, George van Wyk said the school fully supports Hlophe.

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