Blog | A Scout in Peru
Explorer, Jack White, joined Scouts from around the world at the twentieth Climate Conference (COP) and shares his experiences of Peru.
An inspiring experience
The two weeks I spent in Lima were amongst the most energising and inspiring weeks of my life.
The mighty mountains of the Andes carve their way through Peru, separating the two distinct regions of the desert coast of the west and the dense Amazon jungle of the east. The diversity in geography is reflected in the people; westernisation is well established in the coastal region – Coca-cola and McDonald's billboards decorate the city streets of Lima, the capital city, home to eight million Peruvians. However, 30 percent of Peru's population of 30 million is indigenous and occupy the jungle region (there are fifteen tribes that remain out of contact with the rest of the world). It’s an amazing place.
Scouting is thriving in Peru: membership has been doubling every five years and stands at about 10,000. Young people play an important role in running the programme and in decision-making at all levels – national forums are held every two years and young people play a vital part in these. During my visit, I was invited to attend one of the Peruvian Scout Association's board meetings. While this sounds really boring, it turned out to be one of the trip’s highlights. It was amazing to see so many people my age on the board, making important decisions alongside older adults.
Making a difference
I met so many people in Peru, from all corners of the earth, each with their own story to tell. As representatives of Scouting, we had our own story; it was a pleasure to showcase the amazing work we do around the world to help tackle climate change to the world’s leaders.
The COP was attended by world leaders, leading climate experts and a great number of other non-governmental organisations. Each day of the conference representatives gave presentations and attended debates; my role was to ensure the voice of Scouting was heard within these debates. Climate change is an incredibly important issue for Scouting; it will have a significant impact on the lives of today's Scouts and nature is a fundamental part of what we do.
Though the COP was the primary focus of my trip, but I was still able to sample some Peruvian Scouting. One night we went camping just outside of Lima, though camping in a barren desert made a change from camping on grass. On the menu for supper that night was guinea pig! I felt a bit queasy eating an animal which I'm so used to seeing as a pet but it actually turned out to be really good – just like steak!
One big family
My trip to Peru was very special. The Scouts hosting were so welcoming and their home really did become our home too. We became a family: me; Mafi, Katy and Angela from Peru; Troels from Denmark; Linnea and Kitty from Sweden; Monon from France; Nhathan from Canada; Lorena from Mexico and Rosa-Maria became our 'Peruvian Mum' – this reminded me of how as Scout is just one big family.
I have been in Scouting almost all my life, starting as a Beaver at the age of six. Scouts really has moulded me into the person I am today, helping me to develop as a person and raise my confidence. It is and will continue to be a huge part of my life. I'll soon be turning 18 and I never see myself leaving Scouts. I have been inspired by my leaders, and I feel it is now my chance to inspire young people in the same way, by continuing as an adult volunteer.
My Scout leader, Jamie Hughes always said, ‘Scouting is a big wide world and you have to make those opportunities happen’. I cannot emphasise enough how worthwhile the opportunities in Scouting are. There are 38 million of us worldwide; we are a global family and we should meet as much of the family as we can!