ROME, MARCH 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The 100-year-old Scouts movement is an attractive alternative for youngsters dependent on television and video games, say its representatives.
The Scouts were discussed at a press conference held at Vatican Radio’s headquarters recently. This international youth organization began in 1907.
Giovanni Franchi de’ Cavalieri, federal president of Europe’s International Union of Guides and Scouts, presented the legacy of the scouts’ founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941).
“The alternative that Europe’s scouts propose to the ‘playstation’ generation is that of playing, laughing, eating, joking, praying, singing in harmony with one’s friends and without any one designing their adolescence, but living it as protagonist to become later, as our founder said, those who will guide their own canoe alone,” Franchi de’ Cavalieri stressed.
Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, retired archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia, Italy, intervened at last month’s meeting to say that “the Church of today has the task to prepare different men from the past” and, for this reason, children take on a decisive role.
The 92-year-old cardinal added: “The Church’s first concern is the child. Whoever wishes to guarantee the future of the world must attend to children. And it is in this framework that I, as bishop, see the Scout movement.
“The Scout method does not speak in generalities but leads to personal experiences, so that one is obliged to discover capabilities that one did not think one had.”
Moreover, in the Scout movement, “attention to the individual prevails over attention to the community” Cardinal Tonini said. “[T]he community has its raison d’etre when it succeeds in giving the individual his right place.”
He invited those Scouts present to “remember that your task is that of awakening the individual’s inner world and his clear conscience.”
The Catholic scouting tradition was started by personalities such as Father Jacques Savin, Count Mario di Carpegna, and professor Jean Corbisier.
The Scouts’ method is that of inter-education, meaning “education toward the other” and of constant maturing in relationships with others, including the specific aspect of relationship between the two sexes.
For educational reasons, the European Guides and Scouts associations organize boys and girls in different sections with activities designed for each sex.
Each section is subdivided into three branches that include, as a whole, the age bracket of 8-21 years. After they are 21, members can remain in the association as leaders and directors.
In a letter from 2003, the Pontifical Council for the Laity communicated its decision to recognize the organization as a Private International Association of Faithful of Pontifical Right and to approve its status “ad experimentum” for a five-year period.
The Federation of European Scouting is open to groups or associations of the Eastern Orthodox Church or one of the Evangelical communities. Its unwritten rule is to bring together in the same units boys and girls of different confessions.
The Scouts number 38 million worldwide.