Wayne was unable to join Sea Scout Leaders in the South East for their conference last weekend, but sent a message outlining some thoughts on Sea Scouting and the challenges we all face.
As a lifetime member and leader in Sea Scout Groups and Units in Warsash and Guernsey, I believe passionately in the opportunity that water activities offer – I talked at the time of my appointment about the opportunities I had as a patrol leader leading overnight camping trips on the River Hamble. Just one of many endless experiences Scouting offered me, and still does.
We are all Scouts
I do however get concerned when I hear that Sea Scout Leaders feel ‘unloved’ or somehow the ‘poor relation’ and I think in many ways this stems from a number of misconceptions.
I appreciate foremost that we are all passionate about Scouting and what we do (long may it continue) and that leaders want to do what is best for their Group and Unit. Equally, those of us with wider responsibilities want to do what is best for everybody across a wide spectrum of members, contexts and interests, often balancing conflicting demands.
For me, we are all Scouts – simple, end of. Talk of branches or sub-groups misses the point and is inappropriate in the modern era. I can assure you that all leaders are loved equally by us, and supported equally and we wish to encourage more and better Scouting and certainly not less.
Celebrating what we can do, not highlighting the little we can’t
The other myth that frustrates me is that we have designed our activity rules to be exceptionally tough and that they are intended to prevent activities – this is total tosh.
We need to travel a fine line between conflicting expectations of the courts, national governing bodies, parents and our own practicalities. The reality is that we are doing this fairly well on the whole and as a result, facilitating more activities at a time when others are stopping – something to be proud of and sell as a benefit of Scouting rather than do ourselves down over.
Room for improvement
I appreciate that we have not always got it right nationally and that there is always room for improvement, and you have my commitment to do my bit to ensure that is happening. But it’s a two-way process.
This is a great time for Scouting right now, whether a Sea, Air or 'agricultural' Scout. However we still have much to do to capitalise on the opportunity for more young people to benefit from what we collectively offer. We can only do this by thinking differently, being more flexible in our approach and working together in partnership.
We very much look forward to working with you to achieve this and thank you for what you do in providing life changing opportunities for young people.