On the 1st August, 1907 at exactly 0800 hrs an ex-army officer by name Robert Baden Powell of Britain organized 12 boys for the first scout camp at the Brownsea Island of Britain. The boys found this camping to be very interesting since they learnt a lot through activities (which is one of the main methods used in teaching scouts) which they never had the opportunity to experience at home or in their schools.
As a result, lots of boys showed interest and joined scouting both within and outside Britain. The number of boys joining scouting kept on increasing. Now, this has turned into the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) with its head quarters based in Geneva, Switzerland is made up of all the registered National Scout Associations (NSA) / National Scout Organisations (NSO) in 216 countries around the world. The main aim of scouting as performed by NSA's /NSO's is to augment the formal education of the young person by training them through activities in order to help them to be self – reliant and play important roles in their societies. Girls also showed interest in joining the movement as a result, we now have females as part of our membership. The total number of members of WOSM is estimated around 28 million (both scouts and leaders / volunteers) making it the largest youth organization in the world today.
The scout programme has four different levels based on ages, in increasing order they are; Cub Scout (6 – 10 years), Scout (11 – 14 years), Venture Scout (15 – 18 years) and Rover Scouts (19 – 22 years).
The administrative body that runs WOSM is known as the World Scout Bureau (WSB) which is headed by a Secretary General currently Eduardo Missoni and is responsible for managing and coordinating the affairs of all member NSA's/NSO's in the world. The WSB is sub-divided into regional offices namely; Europe Region, Asia - Pacific, Arab region, Eurasia, Interamerica, Africa Region which are headed by Regional Directors who reports to the Secretary General. The Africa Regional Office is located in Nairobi, Kenya and is now headed by Mrs. Rubina Haroon of Seychelles. The Africa Regional Office is divided into Sub-Regional Offices namely, Eastern, Southern and West Africa Sub Region (with its headquarters located in Dakar – Senegal) with Lamine Diawara of Senegal as its Director.
These are the operational offices of the Africa Regional Office, with NSA's / NSO's grouped into zones who report to these offices. Ghana belongs to the West Africa zone with countries like, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Cote D'Ivoire, Gambia, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Niger. This zone has Mr. Isaac Newton Addy, the Chief Commissioner of the Ghana Scout Association as its president.
Scouting first came to Ghana in the year 1912 by Samuel Wood of Cape Coast. When he was a young man, Samuel Wood won a drawing contest which was sponsored by an English newspaper, THE SHEFFIELD WEEKLY.
They offered Samuel Wood a school scholarship as his prize. Unfortunately, the scholarship could only be used in England and he was unable to travel to the United Kingdom. Instead, he received a prize of several books and a subscription to the newspaper. One of the books was SCOUTING FOR BOYS written by Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the scout movement.
After reading the book, Samuel Wood wanted to start a scout group in Gold Coast (Now Ghana). He wrote to the Imperial Headquarters of the Scout Movement then in London and asked them how to start a group in Cape Coast.
After a short time, a charter was given on 4th January, 1912 for the first Gold Coast Scout group in Cape Coast. Soon, boys in other parts of the country heard about scouting and they were interested in joining the scout movement. Troops were formed at Saltpond, Winneba and Accra. A little later, one was formed at Kumasi.
Samuel Wood continued to be very active in scouting. In 1914, he became District Commissioner in Accra and he made every effort to spread the movement, because of this effort, the Gold Coast became the first Crown Colony to legislate for the protection of the Scout and Guide Movement. Samuel Wood died on the 9th September, 1952.
Many prominent Ghanaians were active scouts as boys. Two of the members of the first Gold Coast Local Association were the late Hon. Nana Amanfi III CBE, Omanhene (Paramount Chief) of Asebu State and the Late Peter Awoonor – Renner B. L.
Also prominent in the early days of Scouting in Ghana were; Ebenezer Blavo, E. D. Tackie, Canon B. T. Quartey, T. J. Whittaker, E. Joe Cobblah, J. Kofi Parry, P. O. Vanderpuije, A. S. O. Blavo, Charles Okyne, Robert J. Okyne, W. C. Quao, E. Hector – Kennedy, Richard Akwei, G. K. B. De – Graft – Johnson, B. A. Quarcoo, J. P. C. Chinnery (First Ghanaian Organising Commissioner) as well as many prominent people in society today.
Today scouting in Ghana is headed by Mr. Isaac Newton Addy in the capacity of Chief Commissioner and Miss Jemima Nartey as the Deputy Chief Commissioner (the first woman to have had this position and the second woman in Africa to have reached this far in scouting).
Regional Commissioners in each region who report to the Chief Commissioner at the national headquarters (situated at the Baden Powell Memorial hall, off the Accra High street). At the moment, females are being encouraged to join the movement in Ghana, and currently we have one female as a Regional Commissioner, two females as Deputy Regional Commissioners and quiet a number of them in leadership positions at the District levels.
As a matter of constitutional provision, every head of state of the country automatically becomes the Chief Scout of the Ghana Scout Association, as a result, His Excellency President John Agyekum Kuffuor is currently the Chief Scout of the Ghana Scout Association.
In Ghana most people above the age 30 years have been scouts before, resulting in the popular slogan today “once a scout, always a scout”. Notable among them is B. A. Quarcoo a centenarian who at any invitation proudly wears his scout uniform. Through scouting in Ghana, many people in their youthful ages have been trained to be disciplined and self-reliant, many of whom have had the chance to realize and display their talents on both local and international platforms through the scouting brotherhood.
On 1st August, 2007, all scouts around the world would celebrate the 100th anniversary of the scout movement. As part of the events commemorating the centenary celebration of the movement, all scouts as well as old scouts would renew the scout promise or oath at 0800 hrs local time, this event is termed as the Scouting Sunrise.
Prior to this event, the Ghana Scout Association would present a Gift for Peace project to the Chief Scout (His Excellency President Agyekum Kuffuor). This is a project every scout association has chosen which is aimed at solving a societal problem, and in Ghana the project is about sanitation and has already started more than a year ago and would continue and even to involve other communities.
Inspite of the brilliant idea of the scout movement, it has many challenges which has not helped in the total achievement of its objectives as envisaged by the founding fathers, some of them are;
Lack of sponsorship to organize set programmes.
Inability of the government to support the association in diverse ways.
Indiscipline on the side of few disgruntled adult leaders
Lack of logistic support from corporate bodies.
Encroachment on our lands
Lack of committed volunteers to help run the affairs of GSA
Despite these challenges, the current administration at GSA has not relented in its effort in achieving some success, some of which are;
Getting scholarship for street children to study in school.
The formation of a scout cultural group called Namo Ale. This group is made up of children who were on the streets.
Giving of various training to scouts and leaders, prominent among them being the organizing of the Woodbadge course (one of the highest course for scout leaders) which had for a long time not been organized in Ghana.
Encouraging leaders to attend both local and international conferences (though at their own expenses)
It is expected that in the next few years to come GSA is able to;
Get much support from government to undertake various projects which would be of immense benefit to the scouts and the nation at large.
Acquire sponsorship from corporate agencies for our projects
Have a strong human resource capacity (volunteers) to run the association effectively
Have better infrastructure and logistics to organize high caliber training programmes for members
Have better infrastructure and logistics to host international scout programmes.
Have maximum support of parents.
Have maximum support from former scouts.
Be able to introduce scouting into tertiary institutions
With the help of GES, make scouting part of the curricular in schools.
Scouting in the World is 100 years this year and Scouting in Ghana would turn 100 years in 2012.