Getting back into the swing of Scouting

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It was quickly back into the swing of Scouting following our return from Brazil and a rather hectic day in Guernsey before heading back to London for the now familiar pattern of a variety of meetings and the Greater London South County Conference on Saturday.

Beaver sleepovers

I have had a few emails and queries this week concerning the changes to the rules for Beaver Scout Residential Experiences, making the need to ensure that all Beavers have the opportunity to attend a nights away experience every year a minimum standard for the section.

Interestingly, the work on planning these changes first started in 2006 when a survey of leader’s views suggested that changes were required in this area. These were updated with a further survey in 2009 via Your Programme, Your Voice and also in response to an increasing number of enquiries to the Information Centre.

We know that residential experiences are a great attraction to young people to join Scouting and it certainly seems to me that we should be doing everything we can to ensure that all young people have this opportunity, from as early an age as possible.

We also recognise that Beaver Scout Leaders often find this one of the most difficult parts of the programme and we have been developing additional support to assist them to do this, as well as working with their support Commissioners to provide help at District and County level.

The opportunities can be provided on a District basis, and not necessarily by individual Colonies.

Measuring the impact of Scouting

I followed up an early meeting on Friday by a meeting with the researchers that are undertaking the Impact of Scouting Survey on our behalf, PACEC.

The meeting was to receive their interim report which is already showing some interesting results.They were particularly impressed with the exceptional support they had received from the Movement (I was only surprised that they were surprised!) where over 2,700 members have already participated in the survey. Can I take this opportunity to thank those of you that have especially facilitated the focus group discussions across the UK. I don’t think you will be disappointed by the outcome when the report is finalised over the next few months

Guiding and Scouting

After a catch-up meeting with Alan and Derek, we met the Chief Guide and Chief Executive of Girlguiding UK for another of our regular meetings.

We had much to discuss (as usual) given the activity of the previous few months, but especially a number of joint activities and initiatives that we are presently working on. We have already announced headline details of the changes to Founders Day and the joint volunteer appreciation event at Westminster Abbey on 5 November 2011 and we explored a number of others, more of which another day.

One small disappointment however was that they shared with us reports of a couple of incidents where local Scout Leaders have been aggressively targeting the recruitment of Guides into Scouting. One example that had been reported to them was the handing out of leaflets outside a Guide meeting hall as the girls were leaving. I have to say that, if true, I find this particularly disappointing.

With over 90% of girls and young women in the country not presently enjoying either Guiding or Scouting, there are more than enough members of the population for both organisations to be recruiting without seeking to directly poach from each other. Between us we offer girls and boys an exciting range of activities and can only benefit by working in stronger partnership with each other and leveraging those strengths between us.

Team building in Greater London South

On Saturday it was back to Gilwell where I joined 60 leaders from Greater London South County who had gathered there for their County Conference.

It was a great opportunity to share with them out Vision for 2018 (I have to say, the County’s own Vision for 2015 was particularly exciting too) and to have an open Q&A session with participants on a wide variety of topics.

One observation that struck me from the County Commissioner was the recollection of when he was a Scout Leader at the age of 18 (just a few years ago!), he used to visit the homes of new Scouts before they joined to get to know the parents and of course recruit them wherever possible. I certainly remember doing this as a young enthusiastic Scout Leader as well and wonder if this opportunity is perhaps something that we have lost sight of, as life is ever busier?

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