One of the most magnificent parts of early childhood is the rather "blank slate" each person starts out with in his or her mind; the day one is born, he or she is thrust into a constant stream of learning, absorbing new information like a sponge. Most people rarely acknowledge that learning how to use a spoon or how to use a toilet were very monumental endeavors at the time, but these lessons were incredibly important in the sense that they were lifelong. 
Advertisement
Some of the most enduring knowledge that individuals possess is acquired during early developmental years. Scouts South Africa recently launched a campaign created by Not Norm creative agency — titled "Learn It Young. Remember It Forever." — that stresses how early developmental years provide the best arena for acquiring certain lifelong knowledge. 

The video below features an advertisement for Scouts SA that was directed by Gregg Bailey, depicting the story of a young boy pulling a drowning girl out of the ocean and onto a beach. Lasting only a minute and 20 seconds, the ad tells a surprisingly compelling story, with a powerful plot twist at the end.  

"You don’t teach a twenty year old right or wrong or how to socialize; it’s too late. If they learn these things young, they’ll remember them forever!” Not Norm Executive Creative Director Gavin Whitfield told Shoot. He's right — to a certain extent — according to basic principles of childhood development. Researchers have found that there are optimal periods of time, referred to as "sensitive periods" or "windows of opportunity," during which it is easier for children to pick up certain skills and types of knowledge; not surprisingly, these windows of opportunity are during early childhood development. While it may not be "too late" to teach twentysomethings to be well-rounded, mindful, and skillful people, psychology indicates that it will be harder than doing so with children.   

Scouts SA's aim, as provided on the website, reads: 
"The Aim of SCOUTS South Africa is to contribute to the development of boys, girls and young adults in achieving their full potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities by developing their character, training them in citizenship, and developing their spiritual, social, intellectual and physical qualities." 

By encouraging children to learn and to interact within social groups from an early age, Scouts SA is aiming to solve bigger social problems by targeting the sources, so to speak. Creating a generation of competent, intelligent, socially aware, and empathetic individuals seems, to some, to be a much better long-term solution for creating a less dangerous and more humanitarian society than trying to punish or reform the problematic adult members of that society. Whitfield told Shoot, "Scouting focuses on young people learning in a fun environment. It teaches so many things that this country (South Africa) is in desperate need of."  

The video below was released by Scouts SA on Aug. 24, but it has already received over 2.1 million views on YouTube, which speaks to the poignant and relatable nature of its message. 

The lessons we learn in childhood can be some of the most important lessons of our lives.