Scouting began in Suriname in 1924 and so this year Boy Scouts van Suriname is celebrating 85 years of Scouting. Under the leadership of the Chief Commissioner Mr. Humphrey Schurman, the leaders are keen on their Scouting and desirous of expanding the Movement so that more young people can benefit from it. The special anniversary activities were from Sunday 26 July to Saturday 1 August. Attending were Dr. Nigel Taylor, 2nd Vice-President of the Interamerican Scout Committee, Mr. Ronald Richardson, Operations Executive for the Caribbean Area and four representatives from the South Dakota Scout Council. The Dakota personnel signed a declaration twinning Suriname with the South Dakota Scout Council and agreeing among other things to engage in activities to the benefit of the scouts of both associations.
The Republic of Suriname lies between Guyana and French Guyana in South America and came into being in 1975. It has a population of just over 500,000 people of varied races, religions and cultures. The indigenous peoples of Suriname are respected and are free to become integrated into the society. Suriname is about 163,194 sq. (63,037 sq. mi.); and shares its southern boarder with Brazil. It enjoys a tropical climate with luscious rain forests, extensive savannah lands, inviting mountain and costal swamps rich in aquatic life, birds and amphibious creatures. Over 80% of Suriname is still of virgin tropical forest that supports much wildlife. The capital is Paramaribo and exports include timber, oil, gold and bauxite. Dutch is the official language spoken but several dialects do exist.
The 85th Anniversary Celebrations of Scouting consisted of church services, parades, tree planting on a new campsite, media conferences, a display of scout skills, campfires and several other activities. On Tuesday 28 July the President of the Republic of Suriname, H.E. Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan hosted a luncheon at the Presidential Palace. It was an important occasion for the association with the highlight being the presentation to Boy Scouts van Suriname of the deed for a campsite that consists of 259.5 hectares. The Association will decide on a layout by December 2009 but will develop it gradually into an International Centre.
Some of the major challenges for the association are the renewal of its Youth Programme, attracting more adults, training current leaders and retraining the old to improve the quality of scouting and for expansion. The Chief Commissioner Mr. Humphrey Schurman has undertaken to have the ISO Handbooks for Leaders translated into Dutch so that leaders would be able to make better use of the ISO Youth Programme. Dr. Nigel Taylor assured the Executive members and leaders of the willingness of the Interamerican Scout Office and Committee to assist them in attaining the level of excellence to which they aspire. Mr. Ronald Richardson the Operations Executive for the Caribbean Area will be visiting for a week in October to conduct workshops and seminars with key leaders then return in April 2010 to conduct an Advanced Course for leaders. The association will hold a Basic Course in January and several seminars preceding the Advanced Course in April.
Throughout the week the media was very supportive of the activities of the association. The Chief Commissioner thanked the visitors and all concerned for making the celebration a success and vowed to lay a sound foundation through the “Route to Excellence” for the sustained growth of scouting in Suriname. One of the goals of the association is to increase it membership by from 2,000 to 3,000 within the next decade.