Scouting is an international, uniformed, youth movement. It is divided into several main sections:
Beaver Scouts (6-8 Years of age)
Cub Scouts (8-10½ Years of age)
Scouts (10½-14 Years of age)
Explorer Scouts (14-18 Years of age)
Scout Network (18-25 Years of age)
The aims of Scouting are clearly stated but can be basically surmised as providing an opportunity for young people to develop, to learn and to enjoy themselves. Scouting can offer a wider range of skills and services than perhaps other, more 'specialised', youth organisations could provide. Scouting is open to any young person, of any creed or colour, mental or physical capabilities and of any sex.
Further information on Scouting can be found on the offical website of the (UK) Scout Association:
So they just do badges and stuff, right?
All Scout sections offer a flexible training scheme in the form of badges to track the progress of the Scouts and to give a feeling of achievement. There are several types of badges, the 'Chief Scout Award' badges, activity or 'proficiency' badges and challenge badges. They obviously vary from section to section, but the Challenges and Chief Scout Award badges are designed to provide the main, basic activities and training to be completed. They cover the basics of all types of work, and the important neccessities. The proficiency badges provide the option to take a certain activity or hobby in greater detail.
Scouting is not just about schemes, awards and badges. The 'games' and adventurous activities are very important to Scouting, not just because they are enjoyable, but because they are also important in the young persons development.
What do you do?
Here is a short list of some of the activities my Group have had the chance to take part in over the past year or so. I do not claim that you will be going abseiling every Tuesday, but just think how many times you have been abseiling whilst 'hanging around with your mates'.
During the course of these events alone, the Scouts have had the chance to try abseiling, canoeing, archery, shooting, mountain biking, hiking, camping, pioneering, all types of sporting activities, woodwork and much more. These more adventurous type activities are in addition to the myriad of other activities involved with these events, and that's before you consider what they do every Tuesday on a Pack night.
- Sports Day
- Handcraft Competition
- District Camp
- Athlete Badge Day
- Pack Holiday
- Cub Quiz
- Swimming Gala
- Rafting Challenge
- County Camp
- Scout Rally
- Incident Hike
- London Loop Hikes
- Survival Camp
- Beaver Sleepover
- Carol Service
- Founder's Day
- St. George's Day
- Mark Sutton
- PL Thingy
- Token Camp
- Activity Day
- Football Competition
- Camping Competition
- Sixers Camp
- Jungle Rally
- May Camp
- Cyclo Cross
- Meal in formal dress
- Pizza, Ice Skating, Cinema, Bowling Day
- Southend trip
- Climbing trip
- Hike Camp
- Easter Egg Hunt
- Connect 4
- Spooky Welly Walk
- Town Show
- Working Camp
So what is the point then?
Scouting is a wide and varied experience. The enjoyment of Scouting is often a personal thing, some may stay just for the games and camps, others may prefer the tracking and pioneering they could not do elsewhere. For myself, I find it hard to say exactly what it is I enjoy about Scouting so much, suffice to say I think, that I do enjoy it immensely, and have gained a lot from it. Try it and see!
For more information on Scouting, try some of the links, or pop in at your local library and ask for a list of youth groups in your area, there will certainly be a phone number you can contact. If you know where a Scout group meet, why not invite yourself along and have a word with the leader, I am sure they will be pleased to help you.
I believe strongly that scouting can still offer a great deal to the young people of today. It was not so long ago that I was a Cub and Scout myself (DOB - August 74). I know for a fact just how much I enjoyed being in Scouting. It has helped me grow as a person and enabled me to become a 'good citizen'. Scouting can help the young people of today by challenging them to become good citizens themselves. It enables them to share with the each other the secret of learning in a fun way with a purpose.
Scouting can offer a wide range of activities and skills that simply can not be found in any other single group or organization. Not only does it ensure that the youngster (and the leaders!) enjoy themselves thoroughly but it teaches them and encourages them to grow and develop. Traditional Scouting skills such as campcraft can lead to unique opportunities in the growth of the young persons abilities as stated in the aims of scouting, their physical, intellectual, social and spiritual aspects.
Some talk of scouting as being outdated and silly. I fail to see the argument myself. Some point and laugh at the uniform that we wear. Well to be honest I think this will always be the case. The uniform is there for several reasons, not least of which is to be noticed. I was teased and 'bullied' at school for being a Scout. I simply shrugged and laughed it off. I knew what they were missing on a Tuesday night and at weekends and nothing they could say or do could make me enjoy my Scouting any less.
Having a 'proper' uniform enables young people to learn to take pride in their appearance and their membership in the movement. It takes self-discipline and self-motivation to keep your uniform in good condition and to ensure that you are wearing the correct uniform in the appropriate circumstance.
When I was young I too used to hide my uniform under my coat as I walked to Scouts. Then one day I stopped and thought about what I was doing. How could I claim to enjoy Scouts and be proud of being a Scout if I was going to hide from everyone in the street? The area that I live in is probably just as 'rough' as most cities, with its fair share of shady characters and 'no-gooders' hanging on street corners. I made a mental decision one day to wear my uniform openly and with pride (except if it was really cold, then the coat goes on. Scouts are not stupid). I have not looked back since. When people turn and look at me wearing my uniform in the street I smile at them. Scouting is alive and well today and still doing a damn good job. Pass the word and make sure everyone knows that.
Where else can a 13 year old go camping, abseiling, canoeing, rifle shooting, archery, golf in the same day? Where else are they given the responsibility to look after themselves? To put their own shelter up, plan their own camp, organise their own transport, cook their own food, run their day themselves? Where else can they do this in a 'safe' environment surrounded by millions of like minded people? No, not just people but 'members of a worldwide family' in every sense of the word.
Scouting can make a difference today. If everyone adopted the written (and unwritten) principles, guidelines, and above all, spirit of scouting the world would truly be a better place (a cliché maybe but one that I believe to be true nonetheless). Even if Scouting didn't change the world then think about this...
If the Scout goes home with a smile on their face then Scouting has been a job done well.