Sue Haddrill, District Commissioner dispels some of the long standing myths about what Scouting is all about.
Boys sitting around the campfire?
SCOUTS! What does that word bring to mind? Boys in shorts sitting round a campfire tying knots watched over by Scout Masters. How wrong that image is! Now the Scout Association is for both boys and girls, and the meetings are run by volunteer Leaders, 44% of whom are women. There’s probably a feeling that the majority of Scouts are white, middle class and Christian as well, but, again, this is untrue. Membership is open to all young people and adults of all faiths and beliefs, including the absence of an affirmed faith, humanists or atheists, who share its values of integrity, respect, care, belief and cooperation. It caters for a huge number of ethnic minority communities as well as many young people with special needs. It’s only necessary to think of an international Jamboree to realise the truth of this as there are Scout Groups worldwide; this August Ingleborough District has a Scout representative going to the Jamboree in Japan as part of the North Yorkshire contingent. The list of misconceptions could go on and on.
Experience real adventure
Nowadays Scouting is about fun, challenges and adventure, but, of course, the activities must be safe and run by trained and qualified leaders. Bear Grylls said, when he was offered the position of Chief Scout, ‘The Scouting Movement is a massive force for good, touching many, many young lives. Above all, it gives millions of kids the chance to live and learn about the wild and to experience real adventure,’ and his own exploits are certainly inspiring.
What do Scouts do?
So, what do Scouts do? The activities cover an enormous spectrum including kayaking, cooking, shooting, archery, community involvement, exploring nature, hiking, adventure challenges, sailing, canoeing, gliding, high ropes, bouldering, raft building, creative expression, IT skills, and learning about the wider world or experiencing other cultures and beliefs.
What does this do for the young people? It helps them develop skills including teamwork, time management, leadership, initiative, planning, communication, self-motivation, cultural awareness and commitment, but all this while they are enjoying themselves.
Scouting in Ingleborough
Scouting youngsters in the Ingleborough District are given a great time culminating in some very special events such as an annual Night Hike, which is always cleverly themed. Last year it was ‘Over the Top’ as a reminder of World War 1. The Scouts competed over a four and a half mile route which included several challenges, for example, getting the team silently under a wire without tipping off the enemy. Many of the Scouts spent the night under canvas just to complete the adventure.
Activities and opportunities
The commitment needed from the leaders and parents is also evident at the 2014 summer camp. Here there were so many things to do, including grass sledging, mountain biking, pioneering, climbing, and bushcraft. And what an excitement having an Olympian guest speaker who herself had been a local scout!
Sometimes there is a chance for involvement from another organisation. In May, Beavers and Cubs from Ingleton and Settle visited Malham Tarn where specialists helped them identify all sorts of pond creatures. Many parents helped their children look through microscopes to understand just what the tiny animals look like. Tree planting along the Ribble has also involved youngsters in conservation work.
Of course, it is not only the young people who benefit from Scouting; the Leaders, who give freely of their time, clearly enjoy what they do and the skills and experiences they gain can help in both their work and their personal lives. Adults support in a wide range of roles from working directly with young people, to helping manage a group, assisting with catering, organising equipment or administrative tasks.
Perhaps it is also important to mention just how much fund-raising has to go on which makes other members of the community aware of Scouting. Jumble sales, an annual Model Railway Exhibition, a recycling initiative and recently a fashion show when a local shop came to Ingleton to show off their wares.
Who can go to Scouts?
Scouting is something which can start as young as six when a child first enters Beavers and can go on through Cubs, Scouts and Explorers to age 18, but many then continue on in Scouting as Network members, adult helpers or leaders who want to give something back for all the great times they had.
What Tom says about Scouts
Scouts has opened up opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had. It has enabled me to meet new people and learn new skills. I enjoy the camping and am excited to be representing Ingleborough District at this year’s World Scout Jamboree in Japan.” Tom Lothian, Explorer Scout
A word from District Commissioner Sue
I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of Scouting. Working with such a vibrant organisation, where the members are enthusiastic, highly motivated and friendly has helped me to contribute to my community in a most rewarding way. I’d recommend it to anyone!” Sue Haddrill, District Commissioner
If, after reading this account, you would like to find out more about Scouting, or would like to get involved, take a look at the Scout Association website, or the Ingleborough District website or follow us on Twitter @IngleboroScouts.