Theirishscouter wishes everyone a great start to the Scouting year. Following an August break, our next article will be published later this week.
This week, theirishscouter is in the State of Qatar, on the Persian Gulf, a country with over 4,000 Scouts, plus overseas branches of the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) and the Scout Association (UK). Scouting was established in Qatar in 1956, becoming part of WOSM in 1965.
It begs the question, are there (or has there ever been) any overseas branches of Scouting Ireland? With so many Irish citizens living abroad, is there a demand for such things?
Theirishscouter has been involved in local Scouting activities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but via a local Islamic Centre. Tentative overtures to Scouting Ireland about exploring a joint project didn’t elicit much (any) enthusiasm, possibly because the group was multi-national and nobody (apart from theirishscouter and his then one year old son) associated were actually Irish! Perhaps the whole thing just sounded like too much hassle – we are not renowned for innovative thinking or action in Scouting Ireland (barring the odd bright spot).
British and American groups operate across the Middle East (and in parts of mainland Europe). The British School in Riyadh did have a British Scout Group (currently not operational), but the number of Irish citizens living in KSA is naturally far smaller and of course there is no Irish school – most Irish kids attend the British School.
The GAA by contrast have a significant presence in the region however more skewed towards adults (as elsewhere in the world). One has to wonder nonetheless if there is an opportunity that we are all missing out on.
Theirishscouter was in Dublin in July/August and it was great to see so many overseas groups pottering around the city, many presumably staying in Larch hill.
Still more scouts out on the mountain trails, both visitors and locals alike.
A visit to the ‘home’ scout group and quite a few social interactions with the adult team highlighted a group in great shape, thanks to the trojan efforts of people who would be offended if they were mentioned here by name.
We had our own overseas guests (from the Netherlands) staying in the den in August and the Deputy GL and theirishscouter laid down some Scouting futures with three and two year old offspring (respectively) running around the den, getting a feel for the place, as it were and trying on neckerchiefs that practically trailed along the ground after them…
Sometimes, a period away from local Scouting just brings home quiet sharply, the immense efforts and commitment made by volunteer scouters – it can be easy to take it (including one’s own work) for granted when in the thick of it.