After an absence of 24 years, a group of Bonteheuwel parents reintroduced a scouts programme in the area to help curb negative influences among the youth.
Roger Gladden, who founded the Third Bonteheuwel Scouts group, said the idea came about during a Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum (JPF) meeting in April to discuss ways of giving the youth alternatives to gangsterism.
From that meeting, a few JPF members were elected to serve on the scouts committee, and the planning started.
“The last scouts in Bonteheuwel dissolved in 1992. I was a scout many years ago, and I know the benefits of being part of a programme like this. During our planning and meeting with parents, we found that the main concern the parents have is the lack of discipline among the young people.
“We made it very clear to them that our group will not be a baby-sitting service, but I also know how the scouts can help with discipline,” Mr Gladden said.
The Third Bonteheuwel Scouts group was launched on June 16 (Youth Day) at the Metropolitan Sports Complex.
The group got permission from the Metropolitan’s facility management committee to use the rugby field for their activities.
So far, 60 children have joined the group, and Mr Gladden said recruitment was ongoing. The launch was supported by scout groups from Elsies River, Matroosfontein, Belhar and Montana.
“We are hoping to recruit more Grade 8 and Grade 9 pupils, as this is where the discipline challenges are most prevalent. We have young people from as far as Kalksteenfontein and Golden Gate (Netreg), who joined us. Scouting is all about changing the lives and the mindsets of young people. Parents must not be scared to approach us for help. We are a group of committed volunteers determined to make this a success,” said Mr Gladden.
There are three age categories – the seven to 10 year olds known as the cubs, 11 to 17 are the scouts and 18 to 25 year olds are known as rovers.
The scouts take part in outdoor activities, such as hiking, but Mr Gladden said they would also tackle health matters, awareness programmes and other educational activities.
The group of adults who are involved with the scouts also offer their skills, and Mr Gladden said there would even be help for those children struggling with their academics.
The group is also establishing a fund-raising committee, as they found that most of the parents could not afford to pay for the uniform needed.
“It costs R650 for a uniform, and that is without shoes,” Mr Gladden said. “As we are a non-profit organisation, we are planning to raise funds to buy material so that we can make our own uniforms. One of our parents is skilled in this. We also need equipment for our various activities, and that’s why we started a fundraising committee.”
If you can assist, contact Mr Gladden at 083 509 1520.