A brand-new day
Every year on 23 April, in honour of St George, the patron saint of Scouting, Scouts across the UK hold some form of celebration. Traditionally, St George’s Day celebrations have consisted of parades and faith services and for some, these types of events remain popular, but for many Districts this tradition no longer fully engages or reflects the make-up of their members.
The guidance that follows incorporates examples from various Districts that might inspire you to try something a little different this year, ensuring your event is engaging for young people and welcoming to all.
Choosing a venue
St George’s Day is a great opportunity to bring people together and to promote Scouting in your community so it’s important the venue for your celebration isn’t exclusive. Events should be open to all, whatever their faith or beliefs. The use of a nonreligious building or an open-air venue is a good starting point to ensuring the event is visible in the community and is welcoming to people of all faiths. This year, West Wirral District decided to move their St George’s Day event from a church to Wirral Country Park, a venue that is open to the public and not exclusively aimed at one faith.
‘People were walking by and they would stop and talk to us,’ said District Commissioner Phillip Richardson. ‘Everyone could see young people outside enjoying themselves. It was also a great opportunity for parents and carers to join in.’
Choosing a venue that was open to all was very positive. More Groups attended the event than ever before and, according to Phillip, so did the number of visits they received to their West Wirral website. ‘For about two weeks after the celebration, the visits and enquiries to our website were around double what we normally expect to get.’
For Cambridge District, the venue they chose for their celebration this year was Abington Woods campsite. According to Group Scout Leader Chris Ward the day was focused on activities and adventure and having the celebration in an open venue was ‘more attractive for young people of different age ranges.’
Shaped by young people
Young people should always be able to mould their Scouting experience and St George’s Day is no exception. For the Blacktoft Beacon District, their approach to this event depends entirely on feedback from their young people.
‘We are a very big District so during YouShape Month, we aim to engage the whole District to find out what we should do for St George’s Day,’ explained District Commissioner Linda Thelwell. When she became District Commissioner five years ago, Linda knew she wanted to make St George’s Day more of a celebration and she wanted young people to be at the forefront of shaping the event.
‘We send leaders activity ideas and games they can use to get feedback from their young people.’ For St George’s Day, these activities focus on whether the young people enjoyed the event, which activities they should bring back next year, and what aspects just simply didn’t work.
This year’s event took place at the Beverly Racecourse where the 13 Groups that make up the District gathered for a celebration. The day was filled with activities including archery, a craft activity tent and a climbing wall, among others – all activities that the young people chose for the event. You can use the YouShape resources listed online to ensure your event is shaped by young people. Head to:scouts.org.uk/stgeorgesday.
Inclusive to all
To ensure that their event was welcoming to all members of their District, Scouts in Peterborough celebrated St George’s Day this year with a multi-faith ceremony at the Ferry Meadows Country Park. The decision to hold a multi-faith event came from District Commissioner Jacquie Smith, who wanted the event to be more representative of the District’s diversity. ‘Peterborough is diverse; our members reflect a variety of faiths and we wanted to include and welcome everybody. So we decided to do something non-denominational. That way, everyone could feel represented during the service. And afterwards, we received some excellent feedback from people saying it was much more representative of what Scouting is and what we do,’ said Adam Pallister, the District Communications Manager.
The Promise renewal
The Promise helps all young people and adults keep the Fundamentals of Scouting in mind. To ensure it’s meaningful, it’s important that every member can make the Promise in a way that truly reflects their personal beliefs. To ensure your Promise renewals are inclusive, use the Promise posters available to download online at scouts.org.uk/stgeorgesday.
Always remember that St George’s Day is the time of the year when we get to come together as a community and reflect on the principles that underpin the Scouting Movement. Ensuring that those celebrations are reflective of our diversity and of our Values is absolutely crucial to the future of Scouting.
Take a look at more from the latest issue of Scouting magazine.