Benefitting from a United Scouting Kingdom

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Back with a vengeance from a Scouting free weekend with a week of meetings and a very enjoyable trip to Stirling for the Scottish AGM on Saturday but perhaps the highlight of the week was an email from Alan, who coincidently had been at Cubs with me and has now been inspired to rejoin as a helping parent.

Last Monday saw the first meeting of the Executive Committee following the restructuring of the Board of Trustees that I talked about on 14 September.  Not a decision making body in itself, the Executive Committee’s main purpose is to manage the business of the Board of Trustees and to co-ordinate activities of the Sub-groups. 

It is chaired by the Chairman and comprises myself, the Chief Executive, Treasurer, Chairs of the Finance, General Purposes and Operations Sub-Committees along with 4 members of the staff senior management team. 

The main focus of our meeting on Monday was a review of the business objectives and discussion of the next steps in taking forward consideration of our Vision 2018 following the National Conference in Daventry.

On Tuesday we had a meeting of the “4 Countries”.  Scouting is organised differently in each of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, with Scouting in S/NI/W supported by national headquarters in addition to the UK wide support provided by Gilwell  (Before anybody complains, Scouting in England has the Regional Development Service unlike the others).  

We have held 2 of these meetings now to improve co-ordination between the various staff and volunteer teams and also ensuring that Scouting benefits where it really matters in each from a  greater understanding of the political, legal and operational variations that arise across the UK. The meetings comprise the senior staff member from each country, Chief Commissioners and Chairs.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to join more than 220 leaders and young people for the Scottish Scouts Annual General Meeting.  Scouting in Scotland has much to celebrate and I was particularly stuck by the exceptionally high level of morale apparent throughout the day.  And with good justification too;  they have just enjoyed their 3rd consecutive year of growth, with youth membership at a higher level now than it was in 2002.  They are enjoying the benefits of a major restructuring designed to provide a strategic focus for development, communications and adult training through 8 regions supporting 56 districts.

Most encouraging, an external review by Scotland’s HM Inspectorate of Education provided a hugely positive report in which he described them as “outstanding, sector leading”.  During the afternoon participants broke into a variety of discussion groups to look at their objectives over the next 3 years.  The hurdles have been set particularly high! 

An interesting addition was the ability for participants to provide feedback by text from their groups which were immediately displayed on the screen.  It made for some interesting interaction!

I also particularly enjoy opportunities such as these to meet a great variety of leaders and young people.  

My post bag over the past week has been generally very good with a large number of enquiries being received for the role of Chief Commissioner (England) but an email on Friday evening particularly struck me. 

Alan had joined the 1st Warsash Cubs at the time I had been a Sixer and he was writing to say how his son had just had his first meeting as a Beaver and that he himself had been moved to become a leader/helper and was enjoying being back in Scouting again.  Very rewarding and further confirmation of the large number of adults in our communities just waiting to be asked to help us.

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