Chief Commissioner’s blog| European Guide and Scout Conference
Wayne shares the UK delegation's experiences of the 21st European Scout and 14th European Guide and Scout Conference in Berlin.
An inspiring setting
The symbolism of the setting for the joint conference’s opening ceremony was easy to see and feel. 500 Guides and Scouts from 40 European nations gathered in front of the German Parliament building and to the side of the Brandenburg Gate.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was not only life changing for Eastern Europe but also began the reopening of Scouting in many countries. Previously, it had been a criminal offence to be a Scout or Guide and members had been imprisoned in some countries.
Growth of Scouting across Europe
Over the past six years the European Committee and its team of staff and volunteers has successfully improved the support provided to these developing associations and to all national Scout organisations (NSOs). The quality of Scouting across Europe has improved – as the increasing membership numbers attest.
Much of this can be put down to a very successful European Scout Committee over the period and the leadership of the UK’s Craig Turpie. At this conference he completed nine years on the European Committee and the past six as its Chair.
The rapturous applause and standing ovation was recognition of the high esteem in which his efforts – including 900km travelled and 286 visits to Scouting events across the world – are held. Now the hard work for Craig really begins as he takes up the role of Deputy International Commissioner for UK Scouting and continues work with local Scouting in Scotland.
Progress in World Scouting too
I’ve written before about the challenges facing World Scouting, particularly as it struggles to find common ground on several key topics. In World Scouting the staff and volunteer teams are making good progress in developing the infrastructure; identifying how NSOs would benefit from support and providing it; and tackling issues as diverse as spiritual development, volunteering, youth empowerment, and diversity and inclusion.
The conference was a good opportunity to celebrate these successes and help shape the positive progress being achieved in European Scouting and Guiding and in World Scouting, and also to constructively find a path through the issues that challenge us.
Great opportunities all around
The conference also offered many opportunities to network, build partnerships and share ideas as well as to take advantage of the chance to work with our Guiding colleagues.
A more detailed report on the delegation’s wider experience of the conference will follow shortly.