Scouts in Catholic Schools fulfill social duties
Benedict Keith Ip
The 12th Macau Scout Group: 28 years on rocky road
Fr. Francis Hung related that in the beginning, they used the office of the former Evening School of Yuet Wah College (which used to be the back door of the School) as the Center for the Scout Movement. The economy was relatively stable at the time and this helped to pave a road to a steady development of 10 years which also enjoyed a stable improvement in the quality of life…. from typewriters to computers; from face-to-face conversation to on-line chats.
Mr. Luiz Sonny Liu, Troop Leader of the 12th Macau Group, recalls that there were 50-60 students in the very beginning which was short listed to 33-40 and was then subdivided into 5 small groups. It was considered to be quite a size at the time. The expansion of the group did not weaken the quality as the students have to maintain good result academically as well as in conduct as their basic requirement. The Scouting movement in the school provided a well-demanded extra-curricular activity, as there was not a lot offered in those days.
Fr. Hung added, ”Then came the year 2000 when there was a drastic change in social economy in Macau. Not many would want to have constraints, save disciplinary training. This was part of the reason that led to a drop in the number of scouts in the following years. Yuet Wah, at the same time, had to face internal problems partly due to a reform in the structure of the school. There was a time when the Scouting Group was left with only 3-5 scouts making it almost impossible to start new activities. However, we persisted to stay on, waiting for a turning point.
Mr. SEIN Myint Maung, Principal, said, ”Yuet Wah College is grateful to the effort contributed by Mr. Alberto Chong Chan U, Mr. Luiz Sonny Liu, and also Mr. Dominic Hsui of Yuet Wah College. Under their guidance and the support by the School, we have high hopes that the 12th Group will see the return of the glorious good old days.”
The 28th Group: Cradle for nurturing the Scout Spirit
Year 2000 marked the merging of Don Bosco School and Yuet Wah College primary section, and became the present Colégio Dom Bosco (Yuet Wah). It was also the tipping point for Yuet Wah’s Scouting Group when the former 12th Group was disbanded. Fr. Hung, Principal of the primary school at the time, believed that Scouts should have an early start in fostering good discipline and character. The cub scouts can be defined as the base of a pyramid as they grow to become a Scout and Venture Scout. Thus, the 28th Scout Group of Macau was formed in 2001. In Colégio Dom Bosco (Yuet Wah), a Primary 3 student at an approximate age of 7-1/2 can apply to join as a Cub Scout.
Ms. Lai I Fan, Principal, said that the School is quite satisfied at the bustling progress of the Scout Movement in Yuet Wah. Students are showing more enthusiasm to join. We also have the support from the parents for such service-oriented extra-curricular activity as it gives them a positive impact.
Furthermore, they do not see that the activity would affect their children’s academic work. Not having as intense a curriculum as the secondary schools allow the cubs to enjoy the training at leisure a program that will teach them good habits and social responsibility. This will give them a splendid foundation for the future.
On students’ enthusiasm in participation, Vice Principal Mr. Ip Hong Seng said that the Scout Movement is among the 50-60 extra-curricular activities offered by the school serving 120 classes. Cultural activities seem to be a little more popular in terms of attendance as the students have the role of representing the School. At the same time, students prefer to join sports activities. The Scout Movement however, is a bit different as it is a service-oriented activity. Their service will be required whenever the School wants discipline to be maintained on School functions or any events of a charitable nature.
Both the Principal and Vice-Principal indicated that what the Scouts learn from Movements might not be found in the school curriculum. Examples like: cooking, knotting and camping, etc. Activities that might seem dry and seldom practiced at home will somehow be a lot more fun when done in a group. Reasons for primary students that wish to enroll might be due to the distinctive uniform, the system of roles and ranks, and the Progressive award scheme. This will give students a motive to strive for the better as they believe in their own competence for whatever they do. Somehow they hope to stand out as a model among their contemporaries.
The future in anticipation
When talking about the future, both the Primary and Secondary have plans in exploring a platform to digitize in response to this developing electronic world of ours. Computers with Internet will be installed. Web pages will be designed. At the same time, participation is gradually increasing. It is the wish of both Group Leader Mr. Alberto Chong Chan U and Mr. Luiz Sonny Liu to have more Coaches trained. They wish to see an upgrade in the students from different levels by ways in conduct, skills and leadership. They are optimistic to reach an estimated increase of participants of around 100 in 2017 making another record in the history of Scouts in Yuet Wah. This is in answer to Don Bosco’s spirit, which is to bring out a positive influence among their peers. Even though Scouting does not bring one fame or fortune, yet it brings one happiness, knowledge, and skills while enjoying the fun.
Pope Francis twice mentioned contribution made by the Scouts in 2014
In the year 2014, Pope Francis twice gave credit to the contribution made by the Scouts. About 12,000 Scouts from 20 European countries, assembled at Normandy, France, for The 4th Euro-jamboree to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, as well as the 70th Anniversary of Normandy Invasion’s D-Day. Pope Francis sent a message to those attended the meeting. He invited them to pray so that unity and peace will come to Europe and the world and added, “You are real actors of this world, and not just spectators!” The Pope also encouraged them: Not to be afraid to face the challenges, in order to safeguard Christian values, in particular, the defense of life, development, the dignity of the person, the fight against poverty and so many other battles that we must fight every day.
Then again on 8th November, Pope Francis greeted a group of Italian adult scouts urging them to be the leaven in the dough, offering a sincere contribution to realize the common good. Pope Francis also encouraged the group to continue on path in the care of creation, saying that the “ecological question is vital for the survival of man. It has a moral dimension that affects everyone, so no one can be disinterested in the question”.
Occasionally, one might lose himself at difficult times, our vision might be blurred and we might not even feel the presence of God. The true compass for these people would be a warm heart, a heart that can guide them to God.