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Open letter to the scout leaders of the Province of Mediterránea on the occasion of the centenary of the Scout Movement

23/04/2007: Spain

Dear friends: Peace and Wisdom.
First and foremost, my best wishes on the occasion of the celebration of the Centenary of the foundation of the Scouting Movement. Through my duties as Provincial I have had, during these last few years, many occasions to participate in the celebration of various centenaries or events of this kind in our Marist schools. I can tell you that, in the spirit of all the organisers of these events, there is always the idea of profiting from these occasions for renewing, revitalising and relaunching the mission that is ours.

Faced with this Centenary of the foundation of the Scouting Movement, it would be a pity not to profit from this celebration by giving thanks and paying public homage for the life of Baden Powell, for his abnegation and his generosity, for his courage in creating this movement, and especially for invigorating scouting in this twenty-first century. You all remember that Baden Powell distinguished three fundamental parts for the education of young people: firstly, the family who provides the child with a tradition, a culture, a mode of interpreting and discovering life; then, the school, that provides academic knowledge useful for his future, and finally, the setting of the Scout Group where the young person, in the company of his friends and in contact with Nature, develops his body, his mind and his soul and all his capacities and hardens his character to assure an active and useful service to society, leaving behind him a better world than the one that he had inherited. Allow me to reflect on this third part, that is to say on the Scout Group.

In the Scout Group, we educate essentially by the person we are, by our life and our witness, and then by the structures that we put at our service. I am convinced that Baden Powell knew that the success of scouting rested on the person of the educator, on the Guide, on the Leader. He knew that he could put systems and magnificent structures in place, create the Scout Law, the Promise, the principles, etc. But he especially knew that through lack of ardent, convinced and competent leaders to see the Scouting spirit through to its end, all the rest would lead to failure.

The success of the Scout Group is in your hands, it is in you. You are its life, its spirit and its impetus; you educate by osmosis, and the children, adolescents and young people are the reflection of what they see, hear and perceive in you. My Scouting experience has taught me that we, the leaders, are the mirror in which the children see themselves; they imitate our attitudes and our behaviours, our values, our vocabulary, our way of respecting the signs, and when they imitate us, they willingly accept advice and corrections, for they see in us models, points of reference and a consistency in life. Allow me to remember affectionately our great friend and educator Scout Javier López Legaz, whose BEING and ACTING as Scout we have known and admired.

Good example influences people. You have developed a Provincial Scout Plan as well as the Profile of the Scout as an agent of mission: I congratulate you on this most sincerely. The text is there, but you and we must be Guides whose example, word and action concretise these wishes and projects and make them successful.

As anything in this life, with the years and without us realising, the living water from the source can become troubled, and it is good then from time to time to stop ourselves, to evaluate and to recommence so that the water always flows clearly from the source of scouting. Having arrived at this centenary of the foundation of the Scouting Movement, it is good for us to look back to our Scouting sources.
You know very well what Baden Powell wanted from the Scouting Movement:
* To form mature people who know how to discern, having a strong personality, and gifted with multiple qualities for offering their life to the service of others; all of that in opting personally for principles and values that respond to the demands of faith. The mission of scouting could be summarised as thus: “formation of character and service to the world”.
* Scouting educates in the love of Nature, reflects the grandeur of God, and gives us beautiful lessons such as the meaning of joyous surpassing of difficulties, contemplation, respect for animals and plants, meeting with oneself, adventure experienced in a group…
* In the Scouting Movement, the system of patrols is an example of the importance of community life, where the friendship that extends to the whole “world fraternity” grows. For every Scout is called to be a brother to any other Scout, without distinction of religion, race or social class.
* In the Scouting Movement, Baden Powell also gave a great importance to education in faith, understood as “loving God and loving all people”. And he established the first Scout principle as: “The scout is proud of his faith and submits to it all of his life.” That cannot be otherwise, for the Scout makes his promise before God and counts on his help to fulfil his duties towards God and towards people.

I would not like to expand on this too long, but knowing your patience and your indulgence, I am allowing myself to list briefly the qualities that a good Guide must have today, a Baden Powell of the twenty-first century, convinced that it is the best way to accompany and lead a Scout Group:
1. A good Leader must be one who guides by his words and by his example, who knows how to bring life and enthusiasm to birth in children; he is a guide who walks before them and who travels the same pathway as them. He does not give orders from on high; he precedes those who follow his steps. He does himself what he expects others to do; he is the one who encourages the development of the talents God has given us; he is the one who brings to birth pleasure and the taste for developing the skills and the capacities of each person and the joy of putting oneself at the service of the Group.
2. A good Leader is a person who has good judgement, who can understand and listen, who knows his young people and the situations that they live. He is a wise person who sees things as they are, who can reflect, go to the root of things and see the depths of the heart of people, in a word, who is on the same wavelength as the real life of today.
3. A good Leader is a mature person who possesses interior peace, serenity and consistency in life. He is a sober person, that is to say one who sees things as they are, who judges them objectively and does not allow himself to be torn by emotions.
4. A good Leader is a humble person who does not need to be superior or inferior to others. He is a person who accepts his fragility and instability, who accepts his condition as a human being inclined to fall unceasingly.
5. A good Leader endeavours to live in a climate of interior peace; he has a peaceful heart with which everyone feels at ease and works ardently and joyfully. He is someone who lives in peace and radiates peace by his words, his attitudes and his work.
6. A good Leader is someone who is just and avoids injuring or hurting anybody. I read this sentence somewhere: Leading by offending is the exact opposite to leading effectively.
7. Finally, a good Leader is a father for the children whom he educates. And as a father, he must be firm, he must educate with courage, he must inspire courage and confidence; he is someone who encourages them to run risks and who is not the first to solve problems for them.

As you can see, I have put some time and love in this letter, simply because you deserve it, because I want to tell you of my gratitude for all that you do, in quality and in quantity, in our Scout Groups, because I love and resonate with the Scouting Movement, and because I want to honour the memory of this great man, Baden Powell, who believed in us, who wanted to leave a better world that he had not found, who believed in universal fraternity and in a God who loves us and who has given us a gift in the beauty of life and of creation.
Many thanks to you all. Happy Scouting and all the best from your friend and brother Scout,

Active Cheetah
Brother Manuel Jorques Bru
Rome, 10th March 2007

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