Photos: The 1st Newport leaders, Sam, Steve and Jim, were nominated by Kirikiriroa group leader Chris Gardner, a former member of 1st Wroxall Scout Group. Hiking on the Waitawheta Tramway Track to Waitawheta Hut in the Bay of Plenty. 10km each way. No phone signals! Bliss!
A trio of Isle of Wight Scout leaders earned a commendation from Scouts Aotearoa New Zealand National Commissioner for helping a sister group in New Zealand deliver virtual Scouting during last year's COVID-19 lockdown.
1st Newport Isle of Wight Scout Group (The Old Guard) leaders Sam Blake (Akela), Steve Kelleway (Colonel Hathi) and Jim Wollweber (Jacala) received the commendation from Scouts Aotearoa New Zealand National Commissioner Clarke Truscott.
Truscott awarded commendations to Scouts and adult leaders who supported Scouting in New Zealand through the COVID-19 lockdowns.
1st Newport Scout Troop and Kirikiririroa Scout Troop, who enjoy an international twinning relationship, took turns in hosting a series of virtual Scout meetings using Zoom meetings.
This meant 1st Newport hosted meetings occurred on UK Tuesday nights and New Zealand Wednesday mornings, while Kirikiriroa hosted meetings took place on New Zealand Tuesday nights and UK Tuesday mornings.
One week a New Zealand guest speaker taught both New Zealand and British Scouts how to recite their whakapapa or genealogy and many 1st Newport Scouts went on to complete the Maori Life badge. In return, Kirikiriroa Scouts worked on the UK local knowledge badge for the Isle of Wight.
Another week we crossed live to Light for Bulgaria aid workers in Sandanski to hear all about how the virus was effecting their work.
“Our COVID-19 response was world leading, and we want to recognise the hard work everyone put into maintaining Scouting at a local level,” Truscott said.
“There was nothing like being boxed in to make us think out of the box,” Gardner said. “I am so pleased my nomination for 1st Newport’s leaders was approved by the national commissioner, as they were such an integral part of delivering Scouting online in New Zealand, week in, week out.”
“We had a brilliant time, sharing activities and working together with the young people in the groups,” Blake said.
“We wanted to ensure we continued to provide activities for the Scouts and working across the globe was an amazing opportunity. Biggest thanks to all the Leaders and young people for supporting each other. This is such an honour, it means a lot to us all.”
Kelleway added: “It’s been good that we can keep meeting, if only virtually, and great to make new friends on the other side of the world, with each of us setting the others challenges. I am not sure I was able to be convincing with my haka! The true meaning of Scouting is making friends and rising to a challenge.”
“Well I, for one, feel proud about it,” Wollweber added, “and glad we managed to keep some semblance of normality for the kids . . . albeit online.”
Our trio has also received support from Tim Kidd, the UK Chief Commissioner for The Scouts, who said: “This is a fantastic example of Scout volunteers doing astonishing work to support young people during the pandemic. Across the UK, volunteers have been giving huge amounts of time, energy, enthusiasm, and inventiveness to keep Scouting going and brighten the lives of young people. Sam, Jim, and Steve have proved how Scouting crosses borders and brings people together across the world – I am very proud of their work”.