The Scouts movement in Papua New Guinea has been around since 1926 as a section of the Scouts Australia. The history of Scouts in Papua New Guinea since 1926 has developed into a fully developed organization, which was incorporated as The Scout Association of Papua New Guinea in 1975. A year later in 1976 the Scout Association of Papua New Guinea joined the World Organization of the Scout Movement. By 2011 it was reported that the Scout Association of Papua New Guinea had a membership that was close to 6,284.
Interests in the Scout movement in PNG was inspired through the efforts of my 15 year old son, Langston. He had joined a new Scout group based at the University of Papua New Guinea. This group began their own group because there was no scout movement at the university all these years. The second reason was the initiative of Mrs. Cecilia Wrondimi, who lives at the University Fort Banner area and who works in the Department for Community Development. Mrs. Wrondimi took responsibility in organizing this group to meet every Saturdays in their family backyard.
The children living in and around Fort Banner and Mrs. Wrondimi’s son were the first scouts of UPNG area. Then as it turned out other children also joined up this movement. Eventually the parents began to appreciate and value the importance of a scout training in the lives of their children.
Commissioner Gabi was at hand to train the UPNG Scouts this year. A small graduation of the first scouts was organized on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. It was a thrilling and exciting movement for the parents and the first scouts of UPNG area.
One of the important requirements for all members of Scout in Papua New Guinea is that they must have a good understanding of their own local customs and traditions as well as those of other regions.
In the composition of the Scout in Papua New Guinea most members come from different cultural background and through the Scout movement come to share one common goal and develop as a person through the universal scouting principles adopted by Scouts all over the world.
In Papua New Guinea there are three categories of Scouts. Junior Scouts are usually between the ages of 8 and12; Scouts between the ages of 12-16, and Senior Scouts who are between the ages of 16 and 25. These categories are the important categories that scouts follow. The Scout in PNG emblem incorporates three traditional spears and a kundu or the hour-glass drum.
The values, skills, knowledge, and attitude developed during the experience as a scout often remains longer in our lives. Scouts all over the world share these values.
It was good to see scouts master, Mr. Lote Lisania, and several parents come along to assist the UPNG scouts in their fundraising drive. During the Independence celebration at UPNG the scouts put up their own stall to raise funds to help them with their own activities. I went along also to give my support to this young organization grow up with the pioneer scouts children of UPNG.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement has as its badge a purple. Circular badge with a fleur-de-li in the center, surrounded by a piece of rope tied with a reef knot (also called a square knot). The fleur-de-lis is an ancient symbol, originally used by Lord Baden-Powell for the enlisted scouts of the British Army and subsequently adopted and modified for Scouting. The arrowhead represents the North point on a compass, and is intended to point Scouts on the path to service and unity. The three points on the fleur-de-lis represents the three duties, to God, self and others. The two five-point stars stand for truth and knowledge, with ten points representing the ten points of the Scout Law. The bond at the base of the fleur-de-lis shows the family of Scouting. The encircling rope symbolizes the unity and family of the World Scout Movement.
The Scout movement in Papua New Guinea is also mandated under its own act in 1975. One of the difficult things to reconcile is that over the years the Scout movement seems to be taken for granted. The Scout movement plays an important role in nation building and building of timeless treasures in our young people. This movement must gain all the support it needs from the government. The Scout movement in PNG has always been present in the flag raising ceremony every Independence celebrations, together with the Girl Guides of Papua New Guinea. In major events the scouts are always present. The now is how much support is the Scout Association of PNG receiving from the government to support its programs and activities in Papua New Guinea?
Part of the reason for writing this piece is to share the importance of scouts in PNG. Another reason for using this column in writing about scouts in PNG is to raise an awareness that perhaps we need to rethink how we bring up how children in this day and age. Some of our children are taking up the wrong values in society. Maybe we should think about the development and formation of national values through the reactivation of scouting programs in Papua New Guinea. That also means redeveloping and reinventing the existing scouting sites for national programs.
It would help Papua New Guineans to know more about scouts in PNG and perhaps assist or consider introducing their children to the scouts movement in Papua New Guinea.
I am pleased to see my son take up scouting at this age. To encourage him I shared my own experience of being a scout in Mongniol Primary School in Wewak at a similar age. That was in 1976 under the instruction of Scout Master, Mr. John Samar. It was a valuable experience to me as I was growing up in the years after Independence. Now I am happy to support my son in his path as a scout in PNG.