Catching up with Bear and celebrating a great year for Fareham's Explorer Scouts

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A particularly busy day last Wednesday with my last visit to Gilwell before Christmas to catch up with colleagues working on different projects for the coming year particularly on our plans for internal communications and campaigning ahead of the General Election. 

I am particularly proud of the unique partnership that Scouting has between staff and  volunteers and it is a good time to thank them for what they have done throughout the year. Especially those who have been working to cover a large number of frozen (unfilled) staff posts as a consequence of a reduction in our income, as a result of the current economic climate.

A very brief visit however, as it was off to Town for lunch with 2 members of the Jewish Scout Fellowship and our UK Advisor for Diversity, Sheridan. It is very important that Scouting is open to everybody and so it was very helpful to be able to discuss first hand some of the practical challenges that members from different faiths experience at local and national level and to discuss ways in which we can work together to overcome them. 

Items we discussed included the timings of meetings and activities to avoid particular festivals and guidance offered for residential experiences concerning facilities and food preparation. Sheridan and I are hosting a meeting in January to discuss our diversity strategy and activities in more detail and so this was extremely helpful preparation.

A quick dash across town to join Alan and Derek for a car journey to catch up with Bear.  The 3 of us make great use of our time (I’ve heard that before somewhere!) with 2 hours in the car each way covering a variety of topics including International Scouting, fees paid for membership of the World Organisation and plans for various UK events next year just for starters.  I have to say though that Alan’s choice of sandwiches are not too appropriate for a car journey (only joking Alan)!

We meet regularly with Bear and the purpose this time was to review activities and engagements with him since his appointment and to discuss some exciting plans for next year.  We were somewhat lucky to find him at home because he had just been rescued by helicopter from a mountain in Canada where he had been hit by a camera whilst sliding down a steep snow face filming his latest series. 

If you are interested, you can follow his adventures through his Twitter site @beargrylls.    Bear has been thoroughly enjoying his engagement with Scouting and is frequently discussing them with wider audiences as we have covered previously.  We have a number of plans for the coming year, more of which in due course, including his first tour of local activities at the end of May weekend.

Back to Guernsey on Thursday morning before returning to Hampshire on Saturday where I was lucky enough to join the 97 members of Fareham West District Explorer Scout Unit for their annual dinner.  As well as reminiscing in my old District, I was particularly interested in talking to the Explorer Scouts and their leaders to see the model of sub-units within the District.

Fareham West have 4, where individual Explorer Scouts regularly participate in the weekly programmes from each of the sub-units.  I was also struck when the District Commissioner mentioned that over the course of the year he had received nights away notifications involving 2 or more Explorer Scouts for 47 weeks of the year – it is not difficult to see why Explorer Scouting in Fareham West is thriving, even if the DESC was just a little embarrassed at not having met his target of 100 by the end of the year! 

I somehow think it won’t be long before they do that, not least judging from the enthusiasm of the number of them who were not put out by having to be up at 9.00 am on Sunday morning to do some backpacking as part of their fund raising for a skiing trip they are undertaking in February.

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