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Blog | 03 December 2019

Why resilience matters

By Tim Kidd, UK Chief Commissioner
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I’ve just been listening to Bear Grylls on Radio 2. He was asked what he’d take on an expedition and his answer, I thought, was quite brilliant: ‘That never-give-up spirit.’ To me, that sums up everything we’re doing as volunteers. Giving young people the courage, positivity and resilience to keep going, even in the toughest times.

I don’t know about you, but my spirits are always lifted when I see a Scout showing that amazing spirit. They’re the positive voice in the room when others are stuck in a negative cycle; they’re the ones with the smile or friendly word that’s enough to lift the whole group. And I’ve seen it in young people and adult volunteers alike. Learn it young, and you’ll carry it with you throughout your life – and resilience is needed as much in the boardroom or in a work huddle as it is halfway up a cold mountain with a gale blowing.

Getting through tough times

There’ve been times when I’ve struggled with family issues, or difficult moments at work, or even at Scouts; times when I’ve felt my reserves of energy and positivity getting low. It’s that Scout spirit of resilience that’s got me back on my feet again.

That’s why I’m so pleased that we’re focusing on resilience this week as one of our brilliant skills for life. We always knew it was a key skill, but some new research we’ve commissioned from YouGov really underlines this.

In the survey of 1,000 parents, over half said they believe life is harder for young people today that it was twenty years ago. That seems to make sense when we think about increased testing in schools, the tidal wave of social media, the intense sense of competition they must feel, and the pressure to conform. But the good news is that over two thirds of these parents also think that being a Scout helps you develop resilience – the ability to cope with these pressures and bounce back.

The six ways to build resilience

As a practical step, we’ve decided to share the six ways to develop resilience (and by the way, these are just as useful for adults as they are for young people).

  1. Have a go at something new (and be prepared to fail).

Whether it’s climbing a mountain, setting up a community project or running your first camp, it’s amazing how we find the strength we need when we dig deep.  

  1. Learn and pass on a skill.

This could be as simple as learning how to tie a bandage or cook a meal. Succeed in one thing and it gives you the confidence in another.

  1. Spend a night away.

Spending nights away helps young people think for themselves and go it alone. When young people wake up from a night under the stars, they feel ready to take on the world.

  1. Chat with someone different to you.

Stepping out of our comfort zone is so important if we want to grow as people. When we speak to new and different people, we’re learning about ourselves as well as others.    

  1. Achieve something as part of team.

Remember, you’re not on your own. When times get hard, we’re there for each other. It can be amazing how just sharing an issue with the team and deciding on what we are going to do can make a problem seem so much easier to solve.

  1. Learn to pick yourself up, start again and bounce back.

In life, things will go wrong. It’s how we bounce back that counts. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try and try again.

Resilient volunteers

Of course, we as volunteers need to build our resilience too. We know that volunteering can be incredibly rewarding, but there are always those days when we feel over-stretched and underappreciated. Having that never-give-up spirit is just as important for us. And remember, one of the most effective ways to build our resilience is knowing you’re part of a team. No volunteer should ever feel like they’re alone. If you’re going through a tough time, speak with another volunteer – a problem shared is a problem halved, as the old saying goes.

Perhaps I could leave you with this final thought. There’s nothing more inspiring for a young person than to see a volunteer smiling in the face of adversity, being positive, and supporting the group. That’s truly living our values. When we show that never-give-up spirit, a young person will see it, mirror it and pass it on. Resilience is what keeps us going and is at the heart of our amazing movement. Thanks for everything you do.  

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