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Brendan Watson - Victorian Chief Commissioner

posted 20 Oct 2014, 18:30 by Scott Barnes

Brendan Watson, 41, to become the youngest person to lead Scouts Victoria

Kylie Adoranti, Leader January 27, 2014 12:00AM

Brendan Watson, 41, is the new Chief Commissioner to Victoria's 20,000 scouts. Photo: Josie Hayden

BRENDAN Watson is prepared for the next stage in his impressive career, which will see him become the youngest person to reach the highest position in Scouts Victoria.

On February 1, Mr Watson, 41, of Hawthorn, will become Scouts Chief Commissioner to the state's 20,000 scouts.

When he became principal of a secondary school - the Catholic Regional College, Sydenham, eight years ago - he was the youngest person in Victoria to reach that level in the Catholic system.

He will stay on at the school, where he has added scouting to the curriculum.

But his journey to success started much earlier.

Mr Watson joined Heathmont Scouts when he was 11 years old.

"I was looking for something a bit different ... something outside and something I could do week in, week out, that wasn't the same," Mr Watson said.

Mr Watson said most people associated Scouts with knot tying and helping old ladies carry shopping bags, which was just a stereotype.

"They go skiing, sailing, abseiling, canoeing. They learn a lot of skills and learn about their community," he said.

When Mr Watson was 18, he visited Ukrainian children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster before attending a UNESCO peace camp in Moldova.

At 25, he was appointed Scouts Australia International Commissioner, which meant he was the country's scouting ambassador to the world.

With Mr Watson about to start in the voluntary role, he told the Leader his plans for scouts across the state.

He said the organisation had seen a growth in membership in recent years and he hoped to continue that trend.

Last year, Mr Watson and teaching staff started a scout group at the Victorian College for the Deaf, in Prahran, and relaunched scout groups losing members.

With the help of other members, a scout group was started with the children from the Fitzroy high-rise flats.

His own school is the first secondary school in the state where students can take scouting as a subject for VCE and VCAL in Year 11.

After the subject is completed, students gain a Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation and Certificate II in Vocational Education and Training Business.

It is expected other schools will jump on board.

"Scouts in the past has been seen as an informal learning organisation. Now, we are providing programs to secondary schools and talking to universities, offering them a pre-service teaching program, where we would provide first-year university students a placement at Scouts," Mr Watson said.

Mr Watson said there were a couple of challenges facing the organisation.

"Families are pressed for time, there are school and sporting commitments and a whole range of organisations are competing against each other for young people to join. I think it is very important for young people to take part in extra-curricular activities," he said.

The other concern for the Scouts is space.

"It is hard when we don't have existing facilities such as scout halls available to us. Sometimes we have to share halls with other organisations and co-operate with councils," Mr Watson said.

Anyone from the ages of five to 25 can join Scouts.