My day shadowing the Chief Executive

Youshape Blog

2018 has officially begun and all across the country Scout halls are welcoming young people for another year of adventure. This can only mean one thing. YouShape month is just around the corner!  

With that in mind, we spoke to Assistant UK Youth Commissioner for Leadership James Clarke about the YouShape #WearTheirNecker initiative that gave him the confidence to embrace a more senior role in Scouting. Here, he walks us through his experience, and explains why you too should get involved this year.  

Reflecting back on 2017, I’ve realised  how amazing the Scouting Movement truly is. In just one year, I attended the World Scout Moot in Iceland, became a County Youth Commissioner, took part in the 7th Worthing Gang Show, and embraced a new role as Assistant UK Youth Commissioner for Leadership. But the Scouting event that  had the biggest impact on me last year was an experience few people have shared. 

On the 14th February 2017, I took part in the YouShape month #WearTheirNecker campaign. I didn’t expect much to come of it, but to my surprise I was selected to shadow Matt Hyde, CEO of The Scout Association.

When the big day arrived, I spent too long trying to decide what to wear (obviously the I. Scout hoodie won in the end!) and headed down to a cafe near 65 Queen’s Gate to meet Mr. Hyde. I’d never been involved in Scouting at a national level before and to to say I was anxious would be an understatement. What would we talk about? What would I do if he asked me some super technical Scouting questions? What would happen if I couldn’t remember all of the Scouting acronyms?  

I needn’t have worried. Within minutes of meeting Matt, I was put at ease. He showed genuine interest in my experiences, and I was shocked when he spent the first hour talking to me about what I thought of UK Scouting. I was initially asking myself why he would care about what I thought, given that I’d only been an adult leader for a couple of years, but his honest and kind approach made all the difference, and showed me why my opinion mattered.

The day itself was jam-packed. I sat in on a number of board meetings, including briefings with Scout Shops, Awards and Nominations and Finance. I also joined in a Chairs meeting.

Takeover Day Image

To say I understood everything immediately would be a stretch, but in every single meeting the people around the table spent time talking to me as an individual, explaining the context of each item on the agenda. I got a really valuable insight into UK Scouting, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to learn everything I could. I even got to suggest something in a meeting, which I felt was pretty amazing!  

When I got home the day really stuck with me, and the experience later led to my decision to apply for Assistant UK Youth Commissioner for Leadership. This is something which I had previously thought impossible, but #WearTheirNecker gave me the confidence and drive to go for it. 

Shadowing the CEO, I also saw how passionate every single person involved in UK Scouting is. From the volunteers sitting on the boards, to the various staff members working across the different departments, to those in Team UK, I walked away feeling reassured that everyone was listening to what’s happening on the ground and making the positive changes to improve our local experiences. As a local Scout Leader at 12th Hampstead, I thank each and every one of them! I also gained a better sense of perspective (the volume of work happening behind the scenes day in day out, is massive, and I hadn’t realised how big Gilwell is!). 

To anyone who is able to get out there and apply, I’d absolutely encourage you to take part in the next #WearTheirNecker campaign. Not only is it an experience you won’t forget, but it might just inspire you to try out a new role in Scouting for 2018. 

Fancy getting involved in a Wear Their Necker takeover? Find out more here.

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