Making Scouting inclusive, practically

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I spent much time this week  finalising plans for an exciting urban Scouting project that Merseyside are leading on and which we have been delighted that the Development Grants Board have agreed to support as a 15 month trial project. More of this as it unfolds.

I also participated in the the judging panel for Bear’s survival weekend and reviewed over 40 excellent applications form Scout Network members and undertook the rather difficult tasks of identifying eight to join Bear this summer.

Whilst at Gilwell on Friday, I took advantage to meet with our new Fundraising Manager as part of her induction and to meet with Anne and Marina who are leading the Getting IT Right project team of 50 staff and volunteers for a progress report.

It was then time to join the Bank Holiday hoards fighting our way around the M25 and M4 motorways as I headed to Woodhouse Park Activity Centre (one of our latest additions to our network of national Scout Activity Centres) to join 2,500 of Avon’s Scouts for their County Jamboree over the weekend.

It was also an opportunity to catch up with Dan Wood, who has just been appointed County Commissioner of Avon. Dan is the latest of our young (I know he won’t mind me saying, 30 years old) appointments and so I am keen to ensure that we have the appropriate support in place – no need to worry in this case.

An innovative approach to sports day

It was back to Gilwell on Saturday afternoon to join 400 members of Camden City and Islington District who were camping at Gilwell for the weekend. Things have not been easy in the District over the past few years so it was great to catch up with the leaders and team and to discuss how they have been able to turn it around over the past couple of years.

I was particularly interested in an innovative  approach to the traditional Cub sports day which is being reorganised to ensure that all participants have an opportunity to attain their Sports and Challenge Badges, whilst dampening just a little of the excessive competitiveness spirit of previous years, largely  being exhibited by the Leaders rather than young people!

Back in the car for a drive up to Yorkshire and a first stop at Central Yorkshire’s County Camp on Sunday, where a further 2,500 members were enjoying a fantastic weekend.

After visiting the numerous activities around the site I joined the County’s District Commissioners and a few of the County Team for a wider discussion on Scouting within the County, the challenges they are facing and to answer questions on our national strategy.

A big adventure

After a meeting over lunch with Mark Stageman, County Commissioner for West Yorkshire it was off to Fanwood Campsite to join members of the Bradford North District who were enjoying their Big Adventure weekend.

It was my first visit to Fanwood and I have to say the 12 acres were an excellent example of why we don’t just need the large Scout Activity Centres but that there is equally a place within our facilities offer for local sites providing a wide variety of activities and opportunities that make the most of their location.

I was particularly struck here by an innovative caving system built on three levels within a shipping container, a 'night line'assault course similarly man-made and some very high ladder and prusikking in trees.

As you might imagine, Bradford North District includes some of the more deprived areas of Bradford as well of some more affluent neighbouring communities so it was great to discuss with leaders and the District Commissioner some of the challenges they face.

As you can see from the large number of pictures on Facebook (thank you Mark!), the one thing that struck me most was how the successful Muslim Scout Group opened just over a year ago in a local mosque has successfully integrated with the other Groups within the District, were camping together, eating together with communal catering and taking part in all of the activities in a highly inclusive way.

So often I hear mutterings of the work we are progressing to ensure we are truly inclusive and I would just suggest that if anybody has any doubts these would have been instantly dispelled had they been able to join Bradford North District at the weekend. Well done to all the leaders involved.

And finally...

You might remember that back in March I shared with you the re-launch of Endurance 80, a 50-mile walking challenge over 24 hours through the Chilterns. For those of you that are interested registrations have recently opened for the 2012 event over the weekend 3-4 March and details can be found from the website Endurance 80

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