Greetings from Brazil

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It seems bizarre writing this in the 30°C heat of Brazil where I am for the World Scout Conference whilst 2,500 Scouts and over 500 leaders and helpers are gathering at Gilwell Park for this year’s Wintercamp.

Wintercamp is shaping up to be bigger than last year (if at all possible) and befitting of its name once again, in light of the weather forecasts. Good luck and just enjoy the fun, not to mention the mud!

Food for thought

I have taken advantage of the holiday period, not to mention the long flight, to look through your comments over the last few weeks and thought I would respond to them where appropriate.

Chris Moore summed up the challenge with communications very well with his comments of 13 December when he challenged us to ‘set up a robust message system that informed all warranted leaders without us having to log in’.

The reality is that we have had this very system – the weekly Scouting Plus email – for several years. So it is a challenge when you say that as an Assistant Explorer Leader you don’t feel that you receive information.

Sadly whilst with over 60,000 of you are registered to receive Scouting Plus it is incredibly frustrating to me that less than 13,000 open the weekly emails on a regular basis, according to our research.

This goes to the core of the challenge that we hope our internal communications strategy will address.

Training and leadership

Tony Moorwood, Leyland observed that the training and support for officers and local trustees could be better and I am pleased to be able to say to Tony that we have a number of projects in the pipeline.

These will hopefully fill some of the gaps that you highlight at the moment. I should say that we have done a number of things in the past few years to try to address this shortcoming, though not all have been particularly well supported at local level. Just a reason to redouble efforts, of course.

My comments on leadership opportunities within the youth sections provoked a few comments. Mark Dick felt that his objections to the changes in the Scout age ranges in 2004 had been vindicated with my admission that there might be ‘possible disadvantages’ to the changes we had made.

He went on in a further post that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Well Mark, as others commented in response to your post, the problems with our Scout and then Venture Scout sections clearly were broke and needed fixing and, as I have said before, the changes that we made to the these core programme areas have to be behind the phenomenal success we are presently experiencing with our programme for teenagers.

Difficult promise

Dave posed a couple of questions on 8 December; one of which was ‘Are there plans to review our policy on religion in Scouting?’ The answer is yes, although the reality of the question is much deeper, not surprisingly.

I have mentioned previously that we are undertaking a review of how we support fundamentals in Scouting at the current time, and the first phase of this work will be considered at the Operations sub-committee meeting later this month. The work is largely aimed at supporting understanding of the Association’s fundamentals locally.

The Promise, and the commitment to a God, is largely dictated by the World Organisation (WOSM) and is a condition of our membership. WOSM have started reviewing this, not a quick process given the diversity of cultures worldwide. I’ll let you know if it is discussed at next week’s conference.

The present adult training programme was questioned by Christophe Totty who felt that my comments regarding the need for greater training of practical skills for leaders confirmed his own thoughts that the programme was failing us. A review of the adult training programme is one of the priorities of the Adult Support team, although I don’t think it is fair to say that it is failing us.

Certainly this is working well in many areas so I am as yet unclear whether the problem is with the scheme itself, local management and delivery of it, or a combination of the two. The review work will help us better understand that.

Join the discussion

Please do keep the comments and questions flowing and good luck with the weekend’s activities.

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