Questions on Explorer Scouting and new leaders
Other than a day trip to Gilwell to catch up with our PR company, the Public Affairs team and some other colleagues, I spent last week in Guernsey. So I have taken the opportunity to review some of the questions I've been asked recently and will share these over the coming weeks.
'In some Districts, Scouts are having to leave because there is not a local Explorer Unit. To keep these Scouts, who would make good Patrol Leaders and Senior Patrol Leaders, we need the age range to be increased for the Scout section.'
I disagree. We often look back affectionately to the ‘good old days’ but we seem to lose sight of the fact that, until six years ago, we were haemorrhaging teenage members at a rapid rate. Rather than PLs being older, in reality many more of them were leaving Scouting.
The creation of the Explorer Scout section has not only addressed this but has ensured that our teenager numbers are growing. That said, we do have a particular challenge in ensuring that Scouts move to Explorer Scouts and do not drop out, as is too often the case at the moment.
Key to this is certainly the creation of more Explorer Scout Units, which can be locally based while remaining a District responsibility, and improved links between Troops and Units who benefit from greater critical mass.
'Many leaders are only doing the minimum training.'
If only more leaders were actually doing their minimum training, rather than possibly seeking to be Occasional Helpers or indeed avoiding the training that is being offered altogether. I agree that it is vital to ensure that all Members have effective training and understand the Association's rules, as well as having the practical skills needed to ensure an exciting programme for young people.
'New leaders should initially be put in a section that is known to perform well, rather than be thrown in at the deep end.'
I agree. This is not always possible of course, particularly in rural areas or where there is not an appropriate group nearby, however in these cases it is the responsibility of the District to ensure proper support and induction for new volunteers, especially those ‘dropped in at the deep end’.