Scouts and Guides set for a new century

This article talks about an Ismailis currently involved, and it is
important to note that Ismailis have been involved in this movement
for many, many decades! Note Alysha’s comments at the end of the


Scouts and Guides set for a new century

YOUTH I The movement popularized by Lord Baden-Powell celebrates its centenary next year with a resurgence

Gerry Bellett
Vancouver Sun

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What do Steve Page and Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies have in common with Michael J. Fox, John Diefenbaker, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Pierre Trudeau, Pierre Berton, Brian Mulroney, Darryl Sittler, Jean Chretien and Romeo Dallaire?

They were all Boy Scouts.

Which means that, depending on when they were in Scouts, they all swore a variation of the promise:

“On my honour,

“I promise that I will do my best,

“To do my Duty to God and the Queen,

“To help other people at all times,

“And obey the Scout Law.”

The Scout Law is a list of Victorian social and military virtues that requires its members to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Little wonder being called a “good Boy Scout” has entered the language as cipher for the faintly odd but entirely dependable character who never lets you down.

Next year the scouting movement will mark its centenary in celebrations around the world, including Canada, where the modern version of founder Lord Baden-Powell’s grand idea –Scouts Canada — has 84,000 members ranging in age from five to 26 and 25,000 volunteers in 3,600 groups located in most cities and towns.

For such an organization to have survived in a society whose pop culture since the 1960s has been hostile to just about everything it stands for, is testament to its doggedness –one of the virtues Baden-Powell left unsaid.

Scout leader Alyshah Pirani of Ismaili
Colony leads a group of Beavers in a sing-a-long around
a campfire. Photograph by : Peter Battistoni, Vancouver Sun

Baden-Powell’s era was also more comfortable with the word missionary than we are today but how else to describe Alyshah Pirani, 17, Scout, and founder of the 13th Southwest Burnaby Ismaili Venturer Company, who wants to save the world.

“I really do,” she said.

Only mystics and saints have the nerve to admit it but Alyshah’s curriculum vitae for scouting and social justice causes makes dizzying reading. These are merely the highlights:

n Single-handed founder of her own Venturer company.

n Beaver leader who grew the 13th Southwest Ismaili Beaver Colony from six Beavers in 2004 to 38 in this year.

n Recipient of a host of scouting awards.

n Member of the Scouts Canada Pacific Coast Council’s Youth Network as well as youth service team and youth training team.

n Volunteer at two Burnaby swimming pools and an active participant in the Adopt-a-Grandmother program.

n Member of Burnaby Central secondary school’s Global Action Against Poverty Group that raises money to build schools in poverty-stricken Africa.

n Organizer for various other fundraising projects in school and a founding member of school’s Multicultural Club that promotes tolerance and diversity.

n A member of the youth advisory council of the McCreary Centre Society which is involved in children’s health.

On top of which she’s a published poet, an Indo-jazz dance teacher, honours student, debater, youth TV presenter and whirlwind.

“My friends tell me it’s not possible to save the world but I tell them that if I can make a difference in one person’s life I’ve saved their world and that’s the same thing,” she said.

Alyshah and Vancouver College student Sherman Pao, 16, a Venturer in the 99th Vancouver East Catholic Scouts of St. Francis Xavier parish, are the modern faces of the Scout movement in the Lower Mainland.

Both are often challenged by other teenagers about their membership.

“When you tell some people they react pretty badly to it. They see you as a nerd. Their impression of scouting is not what scouting really is,” said Sherman.

“They just don’t know how much fun it is.”

Alyshah is used to the incredulity. “They always seem amazed I’m a Scout. When they ask me why I am, I ask them why they aren’t.”

More at Vancouver Sun

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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