15-year-old Diederik Evanson, like most Scouts, has faced obstacles and challenges during his Scouting journey. But Diederik’s journey has been different from most; his obstacles presented themselves when he began a new life in Norway.
For Diederik it was an isolating experience not speaking Norwegian and living hours away from the closest Scout Group. However, through resilience and determination, he pushed against the odds and achieved his goals, showing what it means to be a true Scout.
Diederik’s Scouting adventure began in Queensland in 2007, after moving to Australia from the United States with his family. He attended Joeys, Cubs and Scouts at the 1st Moranbah Scout Group before moving to Parkes NSW and joining the Scout Troop there.
While at Parkes, Diederik achieved his Red Cord, became an APL and attended AJ2013. Then he was off to make his mark in Perth, Western Australia, where he earned his Blue Cord and became a Patrol Leader at 1st Warnbro Sound Scout Troop.
In 2014, his whole world changed when he and his family packed up once more and veered away from the hot Australian climate, to northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle.
In the township of Kirkenes, Finnmark, Diederik soon learned the nearest Scout Group was up to 3 hours away (depending on the depth of snow) and knew not being able to speak Norwegian would make it difficult for him to communicate, even if he did manage the commute.
The young Scout, however, wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet and decided to take matters into his own hands. He began contacting a number of Scouting organisations across Australia for assistance, eventually finding success with the NSW Lones Scout Group.
Diederik made it clear to the Group that despite his circumstances he had high hopes to complete his adventurer journey and ultimately, his Australian Scout Medallion (ASM). They were more than happy to help set him on the correct path.
NSW Lones Group Leader, John Thompson was very encouraging of Diederik’s goals, and told him, “If you have the drive and determination, plus family support, we will work with you to make your ASM happen.”
NSW Lones Scouts then began the lengthy process of contacting dozens of Scouting organisations and tourist information centres around the upper part of Norway, and the main Scouting bodies in Norway’s capital, Oslo. Eventually they found a Scout Leader in Vadso, called Anne, who agreed to watch and report Diederik’s progress.
Anne and her Scout Troop allowed Diederik to continue at Scouts by offering their support and inviting him to attend their meetings, which he tried to do once a month.
Diederik learned most of his new skills on his own: cross-country skiing, how to build snow shelters, and a range of survival techniques. He did this during the Arctic winter, while northern Norway was blanketed in darkness for months.
To show evidence of his work, Diederik would send photographs, videos, emails and written logs through ScoutChat on the Lones Scout website. This was then confirmed by Anne (who could speak reasonable English) via email.
By the end of August last year, Diederik was congratulated for completing his goal and awarded his Adventurer Level Cord and his ASM – for introducing Australian Scouting to the township of Vadso.
Along with the approval, Leone Snowden from the NSW State Office commented “Diederik has gone above and beyond what is usually required. He went to extraordinary lengths to try to complete his journey, and has demonstrated attention to detail, perseverance and leadership.”
Today Diederik still lives in Kirkenes – only a few kilometres from the Russian and Finnish borders. He intends to use his Scouting skills to pursue other interests, including working towards a bronze medallion in lifesaving, getting certified as a scuba diver and learning more about emergency medicine and first aid. Currently he is focused on learning Norwegian and feels he will soon be fluent.