It’s a wish that doesn’t come true: Scout wants to become more multicultural. In early 2014, representatives of cantonal associations appealed to the press. They hoped to counteract the decline in membership at that time. Today in the year of the huge Confederate camp at Gomes VS, registration numbers are on the rise again. But the new Scouts also come mainly from middle-class families with no migration background.
In Switzerland, children and youth often go to Scout because other family members are already there or were there, says Eleonore de Planta, head of “Program and International” at the Swiss Scout Movement Association. “Parents with migration backgrounds are often not interested in sending their offspring to scouts.”
Why is this? One who should know is Yves Arigbabu (22) aka Anubis. The son of a Swiss mother and Nigerian is the head of the department of Morena in Zurich Oerlikon and Seebach. As a second, the education in the Scouts of these two multicultural districts also belongs to the student minority. He is convinced that scouting can be really fun for kids with migration backgrounds. “But his parents can’t understand why you put so much time into a job that doesn’t offer any career prospects from their point of view.”
In football, a professional career begins
Arigbabu experienced this with his father, an engineer. When he came to Europe he had to work his way up because his university degree was not recognized here. “He was so invested in his social advancement and couldn’t understand why I spent every Saturday exercising and going to every camp instead of high school.”
Arigbabu also sees this attitude in his environment among parents of children and young people from the countries of the former Yugoslavia. They prefer to send their son to football training because then it is expected that he will rise up socially and one day be able to earn money as a professional. « With Scouts you can only be a manager. That’s volunteer work.”
To bring people from other cultures closer to Scouting, the association now provides information brochures in 17 languages. Since 2016, as part of the “Puffsil” project, he has been encouraging children and youth to visit Scouts in asylum centers with the hope that they will later join a Scout group. There has also been no success so far. However, it has nothing to do with the parents in this case.
This can be seen in the example of Omid Jaffrey (22) aka Grimsel. Afghan came to Switzerland alone from Iran at the age of 17 and shortly afterwards visited a Scout camp with 18 young asylum seekers. He is the only one who is still there today – as head of the Bubenberg department.
When he tells his colleagues that he’s hiking in scouts or sleeping in a tent, he’s looked down upon, says a trained landscape gardener in a report in “NZZ am Sonntag.” Blick explains why: “Anyone who has survived has a moment’s worth of hiking and camping.” He himself was out for two months. He slept outside during the day and ran at night. “Not again!” He thought when he came to the scouts.
To sensitize Swiss leaders to trauma, some Scout departments are adopting their own training courses. It’s important to know the cultural facts, says the association’s Eleanor de Planta. For example, in the case of refugees crossing the sea, contact with water is a pre-existing condition. “If scout leaders know these aspects, they can avoid stressful situations.”