Skip to comments.Volunteers Work to get Iraqi Scouting Program Back on Track (Boy Scouting that is)
Posted on 11/10/2007 12:46:43 PM PST by SandRat
BAGHDAD — In a sunny grove in the International Zone in Baghdad Saturday, excitement and laughter filled the air as Iraqi Scouts, leaders and Coalition volunteers of the Green Zone Council enjoyed a day of socializing and outdoor scouting activities.
Blankets, tables, and scout-made tents were sprinkled among the trees, and the upbeat mood was contagious – there wasn’t a frown to be seen.
“You almost forget we’re in Iraq!” said Lt. Col. Tina Flanagan, a Coalition Soldier who has been volunteering with the local Iraqi Scouts since July of this year. “It’s so great to see the kids so happy.”
The Scout program in Iraq has not always been this way.
Founded in the 1920’s by British military personnel stationed in Iraq, the Iraqi Scouts were members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, which supports scout programs internationally. Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, however, the program in Iraq became a paramilitary organization and it lost its support of the WOSM, said 1st Lt. Amy Staub, co-chairman of the Green Zone Council, a group of volunteers who assist the scouting program around the IZ.
During that time, an underground movement that upheld the original ideals of the Iraqi Scouts was created, even though assisting such a movement was very dangerous, said Staub. “Many of the Scout leaders we have today have been leaders all along – 10, 15 years or more,” she said. “They’re all teachers as well as Scout leaders.”
In 2004, the GZC was founded to assist in local efforts to return Iraqi scouting to its former position of leadership within the Middle East. Since that time, they have worked to advance the short term and strategic goals of the Iraqi Scouting Council, which oversees all of Iraq.
The Iraqi Scouting Council works in connection with the Ministry of Education and, according to the GZC’s Web site, counts more than 150,000 youth members and several thousand adult leaders in all 18 provinces. Together, the GZC and the MoE have raised funds for training and equipment, hosted meetings of senior Iraqi scouts, and ensured funds are available to advance organizational goals and missions.
The Iraqi Scouts still follow the British system of organization, said Staub, which means they are Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. Other than their titles, the program is very similar to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. Scouts in Iraq are expected to abide by a law governing their conduct and are taught leadership skills, to practice tolerance and respect, and are encouraged to have strong national pride, she said. They also participate in events meant to strengthen their friendships with one another and build self confidence.
A number of the volunteers have also been involved with the scouting program in the United States. Spc. Donald Williams, a Coalition Soldier from Massachusetts who volunteered to help with the scouts Saturday, said his love for scouting stems from helping out with his cousins’ Cub Scout pack.
“I’ve always loved being involved,” he said, “whether it be showing them how to tie knots, doing some physical fitness training, or even raising money for them. I’m glad I found out about this program so I can continue to help out even while I’m here.”
Membership in the GZC is open to any Coalition member who’d like to volunteer their time. There are currently between 30 and 50 members, some who attend all meetings and events and some who can only attend occasionally, said Staub. Volunteers can help facilitate events or assist in fundraising, which includes selling tee shirts and patches.
Volunteering to help is more than worth it, said Flanagan. “Judging by the expressions on their faces, you can just tell how much they love this.”
Sorry for any double pings.
And there should be no social conflict as we've recently learned from the Iranians, there are no gays in the Middle East
You just know the ACLU is furious over this.
Thanks for the update. I wondered how that was going. A couple years ago, I donated some money to the Green Zone Council for Iraqi Scouts. I’m glad to hear it’s moving and succeeding.
Says a lot about progress and security on the ground that Scouting is able to come back strong and in the open.
Says a lot about the good of Scouting and why it should be protected and defended strongly here at home.
Thumbs up for the Iraqi scouts may these lads see how bright the future of Iraq can be if the get rid of the insane imams and power hungry strongmen.
the should = they sorry for my poor typing
With hard work and stick-to-it-tivness and age these just returning Scouts WILL be the leaders of Iraq in their tomorrow. We must help them get to that day.
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