“I have no hesitation to support Scouting for its noble values” is the message of the Honourable Minister Lord Tuivakano, Minister of the Training, Employment, Youth and Sports of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, while inaugurating the forum of the Council of the South Pacific Scout Associations (CSPSA). The forum took place on 14th June at Keleti International Resort in Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga.
Meeting in the islands are mainly Chief Commissioners of nine national Scout associations in the South Pacific – Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Island, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, with over twenty participants. This is so far the largest Forum gathering since the CSPSA started meeting every two years since 2004. Supporting the forum are Scout leaders from Australia, New Zealand, UK and Asia Pacific Regional. At the inaugural ceremony, John Ravenhall, former member of the Regional Scout Committee who is also representing the Chief Commissioner of Australia, expressed his appreciation to the Chief Commissioners for taking the time to meet regularly and share the common interests of Scouting in the Pacific.
CSPSA Forum meets every two years and the current Chairman is Iteni Helu, Chief Commissioner of Tonga. Discussions started Sunday morning with John Naisau of Fiji as rapporteur. Main discussion was the follow-up of forum recommendations held in 2008 in Tahiti. Other points of interest were membership criteria and membership fees. Each NSO gave an update of their focus areas as well as challenges. The Forum also decided to hold its next gathering in 2012 in New Caledonia, and in 2014 in Papua New Guinea. Members elected Roger Colot, Chief Commissioner of New Caledonia as its new Chairman.
In conjunction with the Forum, a four-day workshop, as in the past four gatherings, is being organized from 15th-18th June at the same resort, where NSOs are sharing their strategic focus in more detail. Collectively, focus areas for the next two years are youth programme implementation, adult support and membership growth.
The Forum as well as the workshop is being held with the generosity of several supporters, foremost is the Scout Association (UK) for its huge contribution together with the International Scout and Guide Fellowship (ISGF) and Scouting New Zealand.
Just after the forum, the Kingdom of Tonga will inaugurate its National Scout Jamboree on 19th June where over 200 Scouts from all over the South Pacific will camp for a week.