We’re the UK’s largest mixed youth movement, proudly led by volunteers. Volunteers make Scouts happen at a national level as well as a local one. Our adult volunteers are the superstars who’ve stepped up to inspire a generation. One such inspiring member is our very own Scott Walker. He proudly wears ‘many hats’ and we’d like to introduce you to him and tell his Scouting story from the Edinburgh Gang Show to his Leader role as well as supporting the Bonaly Scout Centre .
We’re proud that Scouts is a volunteer led movement. That’s where you come in. Are you a team player? Do you love supporting young people? Are you great at planning? Most of our volunteers work directly with young people aged 6-18 through our Beaver, Cub, Scout and Explorer groups helping them gain skills for life through activities and adventures. No previous experience with young people? No problem. Whether you’d like to help out week-after-week or whenever-you-can, we provide training, learning opportunities and cups of tea – every step of the way. Want to make a big impact behind the scenes? Your time and skills can make a difference in so many ways. Not all volunteers work directly with young people. Locally, regionally and nationally, many help out in other ways and Scott is a perfect example of a volunteer who likes to get involved in a variety of exciting Scouting ways. Find your perfect Scouting volunteer role.
Your time in Scouting
In 1986, after a successful pilot, Beaver Scouts were officially introduced into the UK Scouting structure, and it was also the year I turned six years old! My parents, Michael and Lorna Walker, were involved (they still are) with Scouting so it was inevitable that I would be in one of the first cohorts of Beaver Scouts in the Edinburgh Area. Cub Scouts, Scouts and Venture Scouts followed and in 2000 I took out my first warrant – Assistant Beaver Scout Leader at the 16th Haymarket. In 2004 I challenged myself and became Scout Leader at the 71st Haymarket reviving a Troop which went on to enjoy numerous adventures. I was Group Scout Leader for a while then in 2014 decided a change was required so became Cub Scout Leader at the 88th Craigalmond leading the brilliant Cubs there. In 2018 a house move to the other side of the city saw me pick up a role closer to home at the 75th Braid where I am enjoying working with the Scout section again.
As well as being involved with group Scouting, I’ve participated in various international Scout activities including being part of the Leader team for the Edinburgh Scout and Guide Unit to ‘Eurojam 2005’ as well as being the HoHo (Home Hospitality) Co-ordinator organising a programme of activities for 30 Norwegian Scouts and their host families. I attended the Blair Atholl Jamborette as part of the Events Team in 2006, was Assistant Unit Leader to the 21st World Scout Jamboree in the UK in 2007, led the 71st Haymarket on an international experience to Oslo in 2009 and later that year was part of the Leader team for ‘Project Malaysia’, the Explorer Scout expedition to Sandakan, Sabah. I volunteered at Bonjam in 2010 as a Deputy Sub Camp Leader and always tried to go to as many Group and District camps and events that my diary allowed me to! Now I have to check with my wife if I’m allowed to go!
I was ARC (Communications) for the first year of the regionalisation of Scottish Scouting to but unfortunately had to give this role up due to a career change.
All that said, what I guess most people know me for is my long association with the Edinburgh Gang Show! I joined the show in 1991 as a young Scout from the 16th Haymarket and enjoyed 20 years performing in the cast then in 2010 decided to move front of house! I now volunteer on the Management Team with responsibility for Marketing and Front of House. Volunteering for the Gang Show means I get to combine my love of theatre and Scouts to promote the Gang Show as a fantastic opportunity for young people in Scouts and Girlguiding as well as showcasing the movements to the wider public. One of my proudest moments was when BBC Scotland ran a special feature about the 50th Edinburgh Gang Show on every radio and television news programme and their website a few days before the show opened.
Recently a call went out for volunteers to get involved at Bonaly. Many weekends in my early to-mid-teens were spent camping there and working with my patrol as part of the Service Crew helping Barry with odd jobs around the site. They were the happiest days of my life and having spent a workday earlier this month with other volunteers I’m looking forward to getting back involved, making new friends and learning new skills.
How do you think volunteering helps in your life?
It gives me something to look forward to. Sometimes my day job can be a bit overwhelming or dull but knowing that after clocking out that I have a weekend at the Scout cottage at Tynehead teaching scout craft or joining in with a night hike in the Pentland Hills or popping into a Gang Show rehearsal to watch musical or comedy items being produced really lifts my mood! The enthusiasm of other volunteers and the eagerness of young people to participate is infectious (in a good way!)
I want to do my best to pass on the ethos that Scouting is a game with a purpose, and it should (no, it must!) be enjoyed. I have been inspired by many Scout volunteers over the years with their approach to the group or activity that they lead or have responsibility for. So, I’d like to shout out to volunteers who have inspired and motivated me on my Scouting journey; the late Gordon Blackburn, Alan Hunter, Murray Bald, Brian Donoghue, Robert Young, Barry Johnston, George Devine, Mike Grainger and, of course, my parents. I’d also like to acknowledge Martin Gray and Jonny Tait who are great friends who share my enthusiasm for Scouting and support me in what I do. They all have great attributes that make volunteering in Scouts such a positive experience and if I can take some of their scouting spirit and spread it around, I’ll be doing OK!
What is the best thing you’ve done while volunteering with Scouts?
I’m not sure there is a ‘best thing’ that I can describe because all my experiences in Scouting have been special and memorable. I love the international aspect of Scouting and introducing this into section meetings. Having amassed quite a large collection of badges and Scout neckies from various Jamborees I occasionally bring these along to the meeting to hopefully inspire our Scouts to learn about Scouting around the world. It’s brilliant when Scouts do presentations about a country they have been learning about and cook the national dishes. Usually very tasty!
Like so many volunteers in Scouting sometimes I just like getting stuck in with anything that’s needing done. It could be helping spring-clean Millar Hall or going shopping to get bits and pieces needed for an activity, sorting kit out before or after a camp, or putting in a few hours in front of the PC to keep training up to date or amending a Risk Assessment or flipping burgers at a BBQ. Scouting is not just a two-hour weekly meeting!
In terms of my volunteering with the Gang Show there is a real sense of pride about being involved with this great long-running Scout activity. This year Gang Show will celebrate 90 years since London Scouts presented the revue ‘The Gang’s All Here’. I’m very proud to have experienced being part of the Gang Show network not only in Edinburgh but across the UK over the past 31 years. In 2002, I was part of an Edinburgh contingent that performed in the 70th anniversary show at the Wimbledon Theatre. I can also be heard singing the verse of ‘Crest of a Wave’ on a CD recording of Gang Show songs! In 2007 Edinburgh Gang Show performed in ‘Gang Show Scotland’ at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, in 2012 I was Front of House Manager (FOH) for ‘Gang Show 80’ at the Birmingham Hippodrome and in July 2022 I will once again be FOH Manager at the Eventim Apollo (formerly the Hammersmith Apollo) in London where 170 young people from 39 UK Gang Shows will perform a one-off celebration show – Gang Show 90. There’s no show like the Gang Show!
I try to actively promote the Gang Show as a major part of the Scout programme and highlight that it is different to traditional youth theatre. The Gang Show spirit is Scouting spirit and through commitment, hard work and determination the Gang (young people and adult volunteers) come together as one. The Friday before the show is perhaps one of the greatest nights of the year for me and the most important part of the Gang Show calendar as this is when the new members of the Gang are presented with their very own ‘Red Neckie’ with Gang Show Edinburgh emblazoned on the back in gold embroidery. Our young people are invested into Gang Show in the same way they are invested into a group. A particularly nice touch is when the oldest member of the cast presents the youngest with their red neckie.
It’s very moving knowing that the whole adult support team are volunteers who have a common goal to support our young people in getting the very best from their experience in the theatre.
We are lucky in Edinburgh to have had so many volunteers over 62 years keep the reputation of Gang Show riding high. However, our greatest challenge is ahead as we bring the show back after the pandemic. Will you be there to support us?
Have you learned anything new as a volunteer?
I feel like am always learning! You have to adapt and develop ideas in a way that works best for young people today. Some of the activities and programmes that were commonplace when I was a youngster just don’t appeal in the same way but with some modification and creative thinking the same outcomes are usually achieved!
What would you say to anyone who is thinking of volunteering with Scouts?
I would say ‘Give it a go!’ You won’t regret it – there will always be something for you to get involved with that brings out the best in you and that in turn will make a difference to a young person’s life!
“Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something!”