(SIM/Skopje) – The large public enjoying the beauties of Lake Treska and the nice weather over the bank holiday weekend at the beginning of May 2015 were witnesses of activities the country had not seen so often for a quarter of a century: Slobodan Naskovski and his friends from the Scout Association of Macedonia’s River Scout Unit “Galeb” from Skopje were launching their new dinghies and finally putting into practice River Scout theory and skills obtained during the Winter months.

A proud moment after 25 years: get the dinghy ready!

A proud and exciting moment: getting the dinghy ready!

“Water activities, especially activities on the river (thus called River Scouting) have a long lasting tradition in the Scout Association of Macedonia,” says Jane Plavevski, International Commissioner of the Association, “mostly because of the large number of lakes and rivers in the country. River Scouting was so popular and widespread throughout the region about 60 years ago (then Yugoslavia) that specialised Scout Units were formed all around the country running programme activities similar to what Sea Scout Groups offer in other countries.”

The River Scout Units enjoyed large and regular support from the country’s authorities, including from the Federal Army, which meant that necessary equipment and sufficient funds were rarely a problem at the time. Not surprisingly under such conditions River Scouting developed into one of the most attractive and important parts of the Scouting programme. Sadly, following the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, and without the previous regular support from the country, the offer was reduced to a minimum: maintenance of equipment and running of activities simply turned out to be too expensive.

Jane recalls: “The River Scout Units of the then newly formed Scout Association of Macedonia continued to exist during the following years as local Scout Units and maintained their historic names as a reminder of past activities; but they had no alternative but to offer the classical land-based Scout Programme instead.”

Let's put her into the water!

Let’s put her into the water!

This was the situation up to the bank holiday weekend in May, when the River Scout Unit “Galeb” (the oldest River Scout Unit of the Scout Association of Macedonia) was able to put a long dream into reality and to restart river based Scout activities.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous financial support received from the European Scout Foundation and equally proud of the unit’s own successful fundraising,” explains Jane, “Without this, we would not be able to see those Scouts practising River Scouting today: the support was essential to buy necessary equipment and to offer appropriate training!”

All in all, twenty Leaders are now qualified and have developed sufficient skills to plan and run typical River Scouting activities on the lakes and rivers in the country. This group of people will also provide training for other leader teams in other former River Scout Units. After a period of very little activities the future of River Scouting looks bright again!

River Scouting is back on the right track!

River Scouting is back on the right track!

Looking back on a very successful weekend of River Scouting, Jane concludes: “We are already planning ahead: as part of our Programme Review, the Scout Association of Macedonia will put together a special River Scouting Handbook to ensure that the different aspects of this particular part of our educational offer is well developed and documented.”

The weekend at Lake Treska was just another step in the revival process of River Scouting in the Scout Association of Macedonia, but the obvious growth potential and the envisaged level of quality of the programme offer and leadership training are impressive. No doubt, the River Scouts of the Scout Association of Macedonia are on the right track!

For further details about the Scout Association of Macedonia check their website and follow their Facebook page. The River Scout Unit “Galeb” is also present on Facebook.

Contributing author: Jane Plavevski
(c) Images: River Scout Unit “Galeb”


Rupert Schildböck
About The Author

Rupert Schildböck

Rupert comes from Austria and is the Executive Assistant to the Regional Director. His responsibilities include internal and external communications and administrative assistance in Regional events.

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