The Singapore Rover Conference was held at the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) Buona Vista Campus, Singapore from the 18th December – 20th December. This conference was the first of its kind for the Singapore Scout Association, and was themed ‘Take Action’. Meg Cummins (NSW) and I had a fantastic time. A huge congratulations must go to the Singapore Rovers on what was a very successful conference. The friendship and hospitality shown was incredible, and we are very grateful to the Singapore Rovers for hosting us. From the new ‘Rover Journey – Rover Miles’ award scheme, to the community projects they are hoping to undertake, the future of Rovering in Singapore is looking extremely exciting.
On the 17th of December, Meg and I met in Perth and boarded the same flight to Singapore. We were greeted by two Singapore rovers at Changi Airport. The four of us sat together and played games in the airport whilst waiting for another rover from Myanmar to land. Once the five of us were together, we got into a minibus and travelled to Marina Bay, where we met with another group of Singapore Rovers and other international participants from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
In the morning, we travelled to the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) Buona Vista Campus for the first day of conference. We got straight into an ice breaker game, before splitting up into groups and discussing environmental sustainability. We were tasked with choosing a community environmental issue that Singapore Rovers could directly positively impact, and problem solving for this. Meg and I were in a group which suggested that rovers may be able to help reduce food wastage of odd fruits and vegetables. It was interesting to see how the environmental issues we view as most threatening for Australia are completely different to the issues threatening Singapore.
Next on the agenda was a visit Emergenetics International. In the weeks preceding conference, we filled out a questionnaire which resulted in an ‘emergentics profile’ which we received on the Friday. The profiles were broken into four categories; analytical, structural, conceptual or social thinkers. We discovered our strengths and weaknesses and better understood how our brains function. The team from Emergenetics encouraged us to consider ways in which we could work with people who have a different profile, so that we can function better in a group setting.
Following this, we had a break out session where we workshopped reasons that crews do not function effectively, and solutions for this. From what the Singaporean Rovers were saying, Rovers in Singapore seems to function differently to Australia – there is far-less crew life and more focus on being a leader for the younger sections. This was a great opportunity for us to share ideas and compare the sorts of activities that we do on our average weekly meeting. Collectively, we decided that time, motivation and legislation were the top three barriers to a well-functioning crew.
Much of the conference had a focus on project management. The conference organisers had planned this so that not only are participants motivated to take action, they also have the necessary project management skills to effect real change. For the last session of the day, we went into our ‘units’ and were challenged to brainstorm a project and plan out all the necessary steps to see it through to completion. The theme for the project was ‘Fellowship of the Open Air and Service’. This was a task that continued for the duration of the conference.
Next, we focused on the future of Singapore Rovers. The session was called ‘Our Vision for Rovers’ – we broke into groups and focused on identity. We asked ourselves, what is our current external rover identity? How does this differ to our internal identity? What would be like the external and internal identity to be, and how can we get there?
Next, it was time for the election of the National Rover Council executive. It started off with candidate speeches, and after this, each of the candidates took a seat on the stage, and conference attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions to candidates. Votes were cast after the Q&A session, and the new executive announced. The exact office-bearing position was not decided by vote – instead, the new executive gets together and decides who will hold each position. This was interesting – it is very different to the way that our National Rover Council elections are run.
On Saturday night, we experienced our first Singaporean campfire. We played games, including limbo, sang songs, completed a group scavenger hunt, and heard campfire stories. The night ended in reflection; we all linked arms, held hands and sang ‘by the blazing council firelight’ – the feeling of community and friendship was very strong. Both Meg and I were incredibly moved by the night’s proceedings.
The conference was fantastic. I learnt a lot and came back with a more wholesome view of scouting, which now includes an international perspective. I have been inspired to make a bigger difference in my local community. Thank you to Scouts Australia for the privilege of attending this conference. It is an opportunity that has assisted with my personal development, and it is an experience that I will never forget.