Saudi-Indian boy scouts showcase rich ethos, strong historical bonds
As many as 55 overwhelmingly enthusiastic Saudi boy scouts and their scoutmasters joined with more than 250 of their Indian counterparts in highlighting the rich traditions, ethos and historical bonds that fasten the two great nations since centuries when they gathered for a campfire session at the second day of the annual scout camp of international Indian schools.
The three-day event, which concluded on Monday at the Saudi Scout Training Center in Jeddah, was organized by the International Indian School-Jeddah (IISJ) in cooperation with the Saudi Chapter of International Indian Schools and the Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association.
“This was for the first time, I witnessed such a huge number of Saudi boy scouts joining Indian boy scouts in an enthralling event,” said Dr. Syed Hameed, principal of IIS Jubail and Training Commissioner of Indian scouts. “They came, performed and conquered the event, by singing Saudi folksongs and staging foot tapping dances together with Indian boy scouts, captivating the audience. Apart from highlighting the Scout Movement’s motto of ‘Be prepared’ to serve the humanity, the grand camp fire also showcased the need to join together in promoting universal values with preserving the unique features of each one’s religious and cultural identity,” he said, adding that the event had become virtually a joint celebration of unity in service.
“When one of our boy scouts started singing Saudi folk song, the Saudi scouts came forward to join him. This followed a chorus of Saudi and Indian folksongs, highlighting the ethos of both great nations,” he said.
Senior Saudi Scout officials, including Ali Bin Salem Al-Amri, head of Scouts Activities in Jeddah, and Mohammed O Bayounus, supervisor of Scouts Activities in Jeddah, attended the event and encouraged the Indian boy scouts. “The Saudi scout officials were always with us lending a helping hand to make the event a big success. They were very cooperative and supportive,” said IISJ Principal Syed Masood Ahmed, who is also commissioner of Scouts in the western region. “We are getting whole-hearted support from the Saudi authorities. They are excellent people who extended full support and cooperation.” He also thanked the Saudi authorities for allotting their training facility for Indian scouts free of charge.
More than acquiring skills, Ahmed said, scouting is a philosophy promoting universal brotherhood. “All of us strongly feel that in this present scenario, such initiatives have a great bearing and relevance in promoting peace and brotherhood. The scouting will also help our younger generation make self dependent and put them in a position to help all others around them.”
Saudi Arabia is considered as a district of the Bharat Scouts & Guides with three regions – Eastern, Central And Western. IIS Dammam Principal Dr. Mohammed Shaffe is the district commissioner while IIS Buraidah Principal Lt. Col. Julius Rocque is the organizing commissioner. IIS Riyadh Principal Dr. S.M. Shaukat Perwez is the commissioner of the Central Region. A total of 250 boy scouts selected from seven international Indian schools participated in the event. They represented international Indian schools of Dammam, Riyadh, Jubail, Jeddah, Buraidah, Tabuk and Taif. Their scout masters, escorts, and commissioners were also present. IISJ scout masters Mohanraj, Vijendar Singh, Adil Akthar Khan, Ameeruddin and Majeed also contributed to make the camp a great success.
The camp has created a new platform for the boy scouts to learn the basics of scouting under one roof with a different outlook. Shaffe, who introduced scout system for the first time at Dammam Indian school in 2007, said that parents are very enthusiastic and there has been an overwhelming response to send their wards to scouting. “They don’t bother about the financial expense for the same as they realize that this is indeed contributing significantly to personality development and desirable character formation in their kids.”
Shaffe said service is the ultimate goal of scouting. “Character formation, inculcating values of good behavior, concentration in study, love and affection to nature, and preservation of environment are some of the main messages of this great movement. For Central Board of Secondary Education, we take scouting as one among the two scholastic areas for which grades will be added to scholastic subjects.”
Syed Hameed, holder of Himalaya Wood Badge and a trainer for scouts in Kendriya Vidyalaya back in India, said that each scout has to attend not only some tests but also to qualify outdoor tests. “What the scouts learned from school, they relearn at the camps. Tests are conducted and they have to pass the test in which there is no word ‘fail’ used here. If one does not pass, a workshop will be given to him by the senior scout master who will guide him by giving more details and will send back to the base for retesting.”
Lt. Col. Julius Rocque, who came with 32 scouts from Buraidah IIS, said the camp was a wonderful experience for all the scouts and their scoutmasters. Syed Hameed and Shaffe described the activities of scouts in the Easter Province in association with the Saudi authorities. “Every year, we organize community development schemes like road safety campaign and that is in coordination and cooperation with the traffic police. Around 10,000 leaflets, carrying the logos of scouts, Indian schools and traffic police, were distributed mainly among drivers earlier.” “We also instilled the sublime message of the Saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Respect your road which takes you to your destination.”
The Dammam and Jubail school scouts took part in beach cleaning campaign while IISJ scouts participated in cleaning of Buhairat beach in Obhur in Jeddah corniche, in addition to serving as Haj volunteers. There are 1,000 boy and girl students each at Dammam and Jubail schools while there are 800 scouts at IISJ.