Berkshire and an evening of celebrations
On Tuesday I travelled to Berkshire - the Royal County of, to be precise. Not to check out Windsor, but because I had invited myself to a Celebrating Success evening, which subtly included their Annual General Meeting.
Since I had last joined them in July 2007, they have added a further 1,700 members, or 20%, bringing the membership within the county to 8,900, a number last seen more than a decade ago.
If you take a look at their website, it is easy to see how they are providing exciting activities to an increasing number of young people – a clear focus within the County on making things simple and providing support for section and Unit leaders through effective management.
A fun evening - even with an AGM
AGMs can often be a bit of a challenge; how to do the formalities that good governance requires us to do, whilst making the evening interesting both for members and for external guests – two very different perspectives on Scouting.
Berkshire have cracked a good balance over the past few years with the formal AGM opening at 7.00pm, closing at 7.45pm – the time external guests are invited to join and the opening of their Celebrating Success event.
Again this strikes a good balance between giving our Members and leaders some practical stalls and exhibitions for them to gather information, network and generally to relax. There are also interactive games and exhibitions to ensure that Members of all ages and guests are appropriately engaged.
External guests are met by young people, introduced to Scouting and what it means for them and shown around throughout the evening. There are also a number of short presentations from individuals highlighting some of Berkshire's many successes and the County Commissioner, Hamish and I got to close the evening with a few words.
The fun of being a leader
I was particularly struck by Ben, a Beaver Scout Leader who very passionately explained how he had been a Scout in his youth (not that long ago!) and on moving towns it was suggested to him by his father that he consider joining Scouting as a leader as a way to find new friends and to establish himself in Reading.
After a few minutes searching the internet, he found the Berkshire Scout website and having registered his interest, received a call from his local District within just a couple of days. As he said, the rest is history. He was warmly welcomed and is now running his Beaver section and having a great time with many new friends and feeling very satisfied.Just one of a number of stories throughout the evening.
I had also taken the opportunity of being in Berkshire to meet with those District Commissioners who were available earlier in the evening to congratulate them on what they are doing and to discuss some of the challenges they continue to face and many of the ideas they have for addressing them.
Making a splash
Another fantastic evening although I was just a little wary when I approached the canoeing challenge. With the County Commissioner of Hampshire who had also strayed over the County lines for the evening keen to remind people around us of my passion for Sea Scouting, it was difficult to resist the invitation to participate in the canoeing challenge – with a Wii I hasten to add. Having never tried it before it was amazingly realistic and I am relieved to be able to report that I won my round with some panache if I may say so!
Congratulations to everyone involved with Berkshire Scouting and good wishes with the couple of additional challenges I left for you and I look forward to coming back in a further few years to see how you have progressed.