Chief Commissioner's Blog | Having a voice
Wayne first took an interest in national Scouting because he thought things could be done better; 15 years later he takes a look at democracy in a Scouting context and how you can get involved.
A funny thing
Democracy in Scouting is a funny thing; on the one hand we are the most democratic imaginable; as volunteers we can simply vote with our feet if we are unhappy and leave. On the other hand, our formal structures are a long way from what most would describe as democratic. The ultimate decision-making body, the Council, has nearly 400 nominated or elected members, but even it has relatively few constitutional powers; most decisions are made by the Trustee Board of 21 members, appointed by the Council itself.
Less formal means
There are many less formal ways for others to engage. September sees two opportunities, firstly Gilwell Reunion, which begins on 5 September, where 2,500 members gather for a weekend in what, for me, is the nearest we have to a national council.
The following weekend sees the Annual General Meeting, although only members of Council may vote, non-members of Council can request to attend and speak.
A sign of the times
It’s hard to think that 15 years ago members present at Gilwell Reunion actually booed young people who were demonstrating a proposed uniform that they didn’t like. The general atmosphere was such that national volunteers and staff were reluctant to attend and certainly to engage.
I’m pleased to say that things are very different today, with a much better general atmosphere and level of engagement reflecting our success, high internal morale and external recognition. We acknowledge also that we don’t all agree on everything so there are plenty of opportunities for debate, formal and informal, plus workshops and other discussions.
Not such a bad model?
Despite the challenges, our model seems to be working well; changes over recent years have been met with widespread support and even enthusiasm, facilitated by greater consultation and membership engagement, underpinning our actions and strategy.
If you feel differently or have ideas for an even better approach, please do get involved in these opportunities and others such as national roles. Your chances of success are also improved using opportunities like the above to get yourself known and involved.
You never know, you could end up as a Trustee or even UKCC!