Friday, December 10, 2010

Scouting in Cambodia

We have spent 3 wonderful hours with the local scouts in Siem Reap Sunday afternoon.  It was great, Sandra, Ryllis, Minea (our wonderful student who takes us everywhere) and myself enjoyed doing knots, lashings and listening to the Scout band.

It was interesting the way we found them in the first place.  Sandra saw the scout band during the water festival and spoke to one of the Scouts who told her that they meet in the High school down the road from us.  One day the next week, Sandra dressed in scout uniform and I in my Jamboree shirt and we set off to the school where we were told that there was no one who could speak English and that we were to come back later.  We decided that we would travel to one of the markets further out of town and took a Tuk Tuk to get there.  On the way Sandra yelled for the driver to stop and we backed up and there was a number of young people with scout scarves on sitting in front of a building.  We spoke to them and found that they were in fact Red Cross members but 2 of them were also Scouts and we arranged to meet them in the same spot in a hours time to meet their leader.  We wandered back and the two young people said   they would be back in a minute and they were, with their motorbikes and so Sandra and I hopped on the back of them and off we went.  I asked the young girl who I was riding behind, how old was she and she informed me that she was 16 and when I asked her how long had she been riding a motorbike, I was told 2 years.  Yes, they on the road at 14 and no they don't seem to need a licence.

We were taken through the streets and eventually ended up at the School of Arts and we spoke to a gentleman who is the Secretary of the school but is also the Regional Commissioner for Siem Reap.  He was a lovely man who has spent many years with Scouting and he told us that there were 70,000 scouts and only 49 volunteer leaders.  We thought we had it hard!!

We were invited to join the scouts who were preparing to go to the Jamboree in Singapore which was being held on the 14th December.  Of course we said we would and off we went.  The Scout Section are aged between 12 and 18 and as you can imagine it was certainly a lot more disciplined and much more mature that our Scout Section.

From what I can understand, there is not a set meeting time but only when the leader calls one and then they may be there for 4 hours on a Sunday and as most of them have their own bikes, transport doesn't seem to be a problem.

I have included a few of the hundred pictures that Ryllis took.