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Scouts–just cookie pushers? My experiences as a German Scout

Greta Ahimeyer, Student Life

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Scouts are known for selling cookies for good causes and spend most of their time in the woods.
But actually it’s not like that.  Let me tell you how scouting really works.

My name is Greta Ahlmeyer, I’m 15 years old and I have been a scout for 6 years. I scout in Germany, in a city called Bochum which is located near Cologne.

The World Organization of Scouting Movement (WOSM) is a youth organization that stands for helpfulness and survival skills. In my opinion scouting is much more. For me being a scout means also belonging to a big community that is open to everyone.

As I have mentioned above I am a scout from Bochum. In Bochum there are at least seven different groups, which we call tribes. There are girl groups (PSG), co-ed groups (DPSG), but ironically there are no boys’ only groups, even though at first scouting was only allowed for boys.

The tribes are divided into 5 sections: the Beaver Scouts (7-10 years), the Cub Scouts (10-13 years), the Scouts (13-16 years), the Explorer or Rover Scouts (16-21 years) and the Section leaders (at least 18 years old).
You can always identify scouts through these typical signs:  This picture shows the “Lilie”.

When shaking hands you always use your left hand because it’s closer to the heart. Then you retract your pinky.
With your right hand you reach out your trigger finger, your middle finger and your ring finger which stand for the three pillars (yourself, your section and God ). Then you put your thumb over your pinky to symbolize that the “stronger” protects the “weak”. 

Another sure sign of a scout is the uniform. They look like this; and they are still similar to the uniforms scouts wore when they were founded by the British Army officer Robert Baden-Powell in 1907. He organized the first experimental scout camp on Brownsea Island, U.K. and published his book “Scouting for Boys” in 1908 which was the trigger for dispersion of scouting. Only in 1976 also girls were allowed to scout.

Today you often get buttons for the camps you participated in, which you can sew on to your uniform.  Beyond the camps you meet once a week in a church to play games, talk, prepare for camps, or plan projects. All in all as scouts we don’t do as many charitable things as you’d expect. That’s why I would say that our motto “doing a good deed every day,” is not completely fulfilled anymore.

In Germany we have at least three camps per year.

There’s an Advent camp and a Pentecost camp which both last about one weekend. There’s also a summer camp that takes two weeks and that always takes place outside of Germany. With the scouts I have already travelled to an island in the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, France and Scotland. Wherever we went, but especially in Scotland I observed that scouts have an very good reputation, and whenever we met other scouts we were treated like a friend.

And that’s what I specifically like about scouting; the connection to other scouts worldwide and that you are able to travel to so many countries. This is what makes scouting truly inclusive.

 

 

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Scouts–just cookie pushers? My experiences as a German Scout