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Aug 5, 2011

Be prepared for a camp for all; Scout’s Honor

Scouting has been around for decades; it is one of the oldest movements that started back in 1907 in the United Kingdom. In Belize, it is celebrating a century of existence this year. To mark the milestone, the local Scout Association is spending a week at Camp Oakley, its national training and camping ground. The association is joined by its counterparts from Aruba. News Five’s Isani Cayetano caught up with both the boys and girls earlier this week as they honed their skills at the centenary camp.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Scout Association of Belize is a local fraternity of boys and girls organized to develop character, physical fitness, and citizenship, often through community and outdoor activities.  Here at Camp Oakley the sprawling estate is littered with tents and slogans.  A hundred and eighty children from across the country have converged on the campsite for an annual gathering.  They’ve been here since Monday engaging in a series of events as part of the centenary anniversary of scouting in Belize.

Cassie Lyn Lizama

Cassie Lyn Lizama, Camp Director

“You get a lot of experience from scouting and you know how to make yourself very well rounded and that’s how I’ve grown.  I’ve [been] very involved in all the activities whether it’s with school or with the other organizations out there.  I’m very active and I’ve developed to be this person who is open to all new ideas because of scouting.”

Twenty-year old Cassie Lyn is one of three youth facilitators responsible for a complete itinerary of activities including archery.  Arguably, it is the most exciting thing to do here.  Historically however, the use of bow and arrow has been for hunting and combat.

“This is what we call a finger tab or finger guard.  This is used to pull the bowstring, [it] gives it force and at the same time it protects the finger.  The armguard is used to protect your forearm from the bowstring because usually when you pull the bowstring it stings your arm.  So this is for safety.”

At Camp Oakley it is a fine skill that is being taught by Jose Riverol.

Jose Riverol, Archer

“We show them how to stand and set themselves in the position to the target and how to shoot.  We give them the safety rules and precautions on how to shoot and how to handle the range.”

Equipped with both recurve and compound bows his students take their position, observing all  necessary safeguards before aiming at a set of targets down the range.

Elsewhere on the compound another patrol is perfecting a different form of marksmanship.  These snipers in training are each aiming down the sight of a pellet rifle.  Multiple cracks of gunfire are heard, followed immediately by specific instructions to reload.  Everything the scouts do revolves around a strict code of discipline.  It has been this way since the movement was established here in 1911.

Geraldine Sosa

Geraldine Sosa, Camp Commissioner

“It’s a landmark to have scouting survive for a hundred years in Belize and everyday we’re trying to get more kids into the scouting movement [and] have it more developed [and] teach them all the traits of a scout, all the disciplines to be trustworthy, to be loyal so that we could eventually just make a better society for Belize.”

Creating a better society through scouting involves the teachings of personal development and team spirit.  Before lunch each troop files into formation.  Its leader is responsible for the presence of all members before performing their ritual yells.

Fernando Oliva

Fernando Oliva

“We have several training ranks in scouting.  When you start as a scout you want to be the senior patrol leader who runs all the patrols.  So you get training.  You come up on weekends and do a practical course and a theory course about leadership abilities.  We do paper stuff, reading stuff.  [It’s] something like a teacher training.”

Fernando Oliva, like Robert Baden-Powell who founded the global movement in 1907, has learned much of what he knows about leadership from being a scout himself.  Over the years Fernando has ascended in rank to attain the Queen’s Scout Award.

Interestingly, scouting in Belize has only just become a co-educational activity.  The ongoing camp sees the equal participation of both boys and girls challenging each other in a number of games.

Geraldine Sosa

“The scouting movement welcomes both boys and girls because girls can just do right about anything that boys can do.  Sometimes they’re more disciplined.  Of course the boys and girls like to have competitions.  They both play basketball, volleyball, football.  They can do just about anything.”

Iris Campos, Girl Scout

Iris Campos

“I feel good being with my unit having and meeting new friends from other countries and from Belize.  I just feel proud to be with other people in this unit and in the camp here in Camp Oakley.”

The annual scout camp concludes on Sunday with a family day at Camp Oakley. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

While the camping activities conclude on Sunday, the centenary anniversary celebrations will close in September with a banquet for its membership.

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