NOSTALGIA kicked in as I said goodbye to what has been the home of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines Pampanga Council at the Provincial Capitol Compound last week. The GSP Pampanga Headquarters has to give way to some “more important” infrastructure needed in the area, while waiting and looking for a suitable place where it can hold office and trainings.
This year, 2019, marks my 30th year as a Girl Scout, starting as Star Scout at the San Fernando Elementary School during my grade school days. In my high school years, I was a Senior Scout and became a Chief Girl Scout medalist, following the footsteps of my “Ates” in scouting, BJ Berzamin and Lovelyn Ocampo.
I continued my registration as a cadet during my college days and when I came back home to San Fernando for work, I became an associate member prior to my stint in the GSP Pampanga Council Board. Currently, I serve in the Program Committee of the GSP in Pampanga, designing programs for girls of all ages, anchored on the national programs of scouting in our country but localized to suit girls and young women.
One of the recent camps that the Council organized was called Camp ASLAG, which was an arts and talent camp for girls, held last February in celebration of the National Arts Month. This coming week, the Department of Education City Schools Division of San Fernando, Pampanga, through the efforts of our superintendent Dr. Ronnie Mallari and Division Scouting Program Coordinator Felino Sawal, will be having the first citywide joint encampment in recent history on April 14 to 17, 2019.
This year’s theme is “Every Boy and Girl Scout, a leader.” The camp will be held at a privately-owned shady orchard and farm at Barangay Maimpis. Hundreds of scouts from all over the city are expected to participate in the said event. Both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts camp directors have prepared meaningful and challenging activities which will equip the youth with skills and knowledge that can find practical application and relevance in the bigger world.
For me, scouting helped establish leadership skills at a very young age. In the patrol system for example, twinklers and stars start to play roles within the organization, whether they are patrol leaders, song leaders, or grub leaders. Scouting also taught me how to work in a team and with a team, since most activities require teamwork, like orienteering, gadget-making, and tent-pitching. The values that GSP upholds in its programs, from heritage and citizenship to well-being, from environment to economic self-sufficiency, are still as relevant since then until now.
Looking back now, I learned a lot of skills in scouting which I found useful at any given point in my life: how to pack my underwear correctly and maximize backpack space, how to sing Filipino folk songs or dance a Philippine folk dance, how to tie a square knot and other knots, how to treat a flag with care, how to do kapers, and so on. Some of the most memorable trips I had in my life also had to do with scouting, from my first ever international camp in Taiwan when I was 14, to the summer I spent at a national camp after I graduated from high school. The little girl has grown but her heart remains green.
Passing on the scouting torch now to the next generation of youth, I am so excited to have activities in our city which will help turn scouts into leaders. Away from their techie gadgets, in the great outdoors, may they find grit and more in themselves, and hopefully keep the spirit of scouting alive and kicking.