Each month, International News profiles a Scout from overseas:
Esben Holager, Denmark
First Scout Promise: 1994, in a Scout cabin outside Copenhagen.
Current Scouting Role: Chief Commissioner, Danish Scout Council, and Youth Advisor to the World Scout Committee.
In the real world: I study a Masters Degree in Learning and Innovative Change.
Esben Holager is an accomplished Scout – one of the few young Chief Commissioners in world Scouting, and a vital voice for young people on the World Scout Committee.
On what Youth Advisers to the World Scout Committee do:
We do a lot of things. Most importantly we try be engaged in all the activities of The World Scout Committee. This generally means attending their meetings but also includes participation in the sub-committees or taskforces of the committee. We also have an important role in planning the next World Scout Youth Forum. Lastly we are responsible for reminding the committee to take the recommendations of the World Scout Youth Forum seriously and to include them in their work.
On the rewarding aspects of being a leader:
Even though I see myself mostly as a “Paper Scout” (one who rarely sleeps in a tent and makes fires, but mostly attends meetings and write papers), my hope is that my contribution to the more administrative part of Scouting enables National Scout Organizations and local Scout leaders to provide better Scouting to more young people. It’s our responsibility to improve the frames within which Scouting operates. Presently I am touched by the many local projects where Scouting is changing youth and Scouts and their communities through the Messengers of Peace initiative. It would not have been possible without the work of the committee, the World Scout Foundation, or the World Scout Bureau.
On a funny Scouting memory:
My Leader had a foldable tripod chair which he used for sitting on during meals. One day at breakfast me and a friend were making fun about what would happen if we pressed the button on the chair that would make it fold together while our Leader was sitting on it. During that same meal my leader sat in the chair and it collapsed even though we hadn’t touched anything and it resulted in an angry leader who drop baked beans and egg on himself and (a lot) on me and my friend (even though we hadn’t touched it). He was my best Scout Leader. It’s still a mystery why the chair collapsed.
On Danish Scouting:
We have safe wilderness. In Denmark it is no problem to send a group of scouts aged 10-12 on their own camping trip because we have no dangerous wildlife or nature here. This really enables patrols to take leadership and plan and execute their own activities outdoors with little support from leaders.
On the biggest challenges facing Scouting today:
I see two challenges. We need to be better at telling what we do and I don’t mean the activities such as pioneering etc. but that we do capacity and character building and leadership training for young people. What is the result of Scouting? Or even better we need to start by telling WHY we do what we do – not how. This will help us attract more resources and make Scouting better understood by the outside world.
The other challenge is that the world is a very diverse and fast changing place. This results in Scouting developing differently around the world. We need to be able to embrace this as a World Movement. At the same time we also need to be ready at local level to take in more diverse groups of children and youth due to migration and immigration. We have a responsibility to make sure that every youth in the world has a real opportunity to join the movement, make the promise, and become a Scout.
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