The One Year On event held on 28 Feb 2019 showed us how far our Region has travelled since our earlier event (known as the ‘January Jolly’) in 2018. We wanted to give people a sense of what’s been achieved at Regional level in the past year and our plans for the coming year. We also wanted to focus on how we could encourage more people to take part in adventurous activities in 2019 – a core part of what we do in Scouting!
There was a mixture of Regional Executive Committee members, Regional Leadership Team members and our Regional Assessors for Adventurous Activities. About 50 people attended along with Andrew Sharkey, Chief Commissioner, Scouts Scotland.
John Cannon and Margery Naylor gave short presentations on all that had been achieved over the last year and everyone joined in to develop our thinking about how we could all promote adventurous activities. This was a key issue in the Engagement sessions and online survey we carried out in 2018. We will let you know what we are going to do about it shortly.
Sharkey presented several people with awards and then spoke movingly about his involvement in Scouting, as a young person, as a leader and as a parent. Finally, he joined a panel with us to answer questions from the floor. He did so in a very positive and pragmatic way and we really appreciated the time he took to come after a busy Parents’ Evening, in the school where he is the Headteacher. Our organisation will enjoy and benefit from his leadership.
And our thanks go to Douglas Allan, DC Borders, for the unflappable way he chaired the event and to Graeme Robertson, Regional Vice Chair, for all his hard work in preparation for the event.
And the end of the evening Sharkey said “I am really impressed with what you are doing in South East Scotland. There was so much laughter and good humour when I walked into the room. It was great to be with you.”
John Cannon Margery Naylor
Regional Chair Regional Commissioner
See the Chairman’s slides here
Read the Regional Commissioner’s talk:
The year 2018 has been a busy and rewarding time for everyone in the Region. Scouting continues to be a success story – by every measure. It has never been stronger or been making more of an impact. The Census shows that we have increased our membership of young people and adults by about 2.2% across the Region. We have increased the number of leaders in almost every District in 2018. And we have increased the number of Scouts by 6%. But there are some dips in one or two areas in our membership numbers, and we need to work in 2019 understand why this is and to do something to improve the situation.
Our Regional Strategy follows the national UK and Scottish long term strategies in focusing on the three pillars – People, Programme and Perception.
In relation to ‘People’ we now have a full Regional Leadership Team with District Commissioners in every District. This is a major achievement because our District Commissioners are the engine room of Scouting in our Region, and they work tirelessly to ensure that Scouting goes from strength to strength and will be fun and will be safe for young people
So, I am truly delighted to be able to let you know that Mike Treanor, our Scouting Support Officer, will join us on 1 July 2019. He will support the work that is done by leaders and all our adult volunteers, day by day, week by week, year in and year out, such as running meetings, managing camps, and organising fundraising events. He has an in-depth knowledge of Scouting as he is currently a Scout leader. His number one priority is to promote the recruitment and retention of new leaders.
In relation to ‘Programme’ we want to focus on outdoor and adventurous activities in 2019. Why? Because the Engagement and Consultation exercise carried out by Graeme Robertson and Martin Elliot in the autumn of 2018, showed that there were three overriding concerns for our adult volunteers:
- First – we need more leaders and they need more help, training and support: And we have recruited a Scouting Support Officer.
- Second- we need to improve Bonaly: We have recruited a new Centre Manager.
- Third – we need to provide more assistance for leaders to run more outdoor and adventurous activities:
So why are we going to focus in 2019 on outdoor and adventurous activities? Because the core values of Scouting, as expressed by Baden Powell, have never changed. He said:
- “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.”
- “The open-air is the real objective of Scouting and the key to its success.”
And the vision for Scouting nationally is that 50% of all programmes should be about outdoor and adventurous activities. A big ask you may think, until someone counted up the hours that leaders spend teaching young people how to light fires, pitch tents, go orienteering or bike riding around the local paths in their evening meetings – all of these are related activities about getting young people out of doors.
For a start, we have Nights Away Advisers in every District. Overall, we have 12 of these experienced people making sure that there are enough Nights Away Permit holders so that every young person has the opportunity to camp and that camps are run safely and happily. We now have 312 Nights Away permit holders in our Region, holding a total of 454 permits.
And we have a greatly expanded team of Regional Assessors for Adventurous Activities. We now have 12 Regional Assessors. Lawrence Mitchell is our Regional Adviser for Adventurous Activities and Bruce MacDonald is the Regional Manager of the Permits for Adventurous Activities. Lawrence and Bruce have, between them, doubled the number of Regional Assessors for adventurous activities permits over the last year – a critical factor in enabling young people to experience outdoor activities. The Regional Assessors are very clear that they are not just here to assess people for permits. They are happy to advise all leaders on how to undertake adventurous activities as well and to prepare leaders for their permits.
And in case you are wondering how many Adventurous Activities are permitted to our young people, there are 95 and they range from kayaking, sailing, hill walking and mountain climbing through land yachting, laser games, narrow boating, and Nerf guns to zorbing. Who knows the half of them? Not all of them need permit holders to run these activities, but all have guidance sheets on the UK Scout website, so we do encourage leaders to use them. Why? Because there can be some tricky issues such as the rules for flying drones!
There are, inevitably, some roles we still need to fill – especially the Regional Adviser for International camps and trips. We will be looking to find a (hopefully willing) volunteer for this role as the preparation and scrutiny for international camps and trips is exhaustive and exhausting but absolutely essential if we are to ensure the safety and enjoyment of both leaders and young people abroad.
We do, as a Region, provide some great activities for our young people. Longcraig Scout Centre is flourishing, after a difficult time in 2017. Thanks to the hard work and enormous time commitment of the 46 or so volunteers members of the Active Support Unit led by Malcolm Leckie, they provided over 1,000 sessions on the water for young people in 2018.
The Regional Leadership Team has also worked hard with the Regional Executive Committee members to analyse and improve the services offered at Bonaly Centre. We have recruited Mark Campbell to be our new Centre Manager. He has a proven track record in successfully running outdoor centres, so we are confident that the future improvement of Bonaly, begun under John Bruce’s very able leadership, will be assured when John reverts to being a Trustee! And the Bonaly Business Planning Group has been working hard to set out the direction of travel for Mark. One of the key problems we want to address is the lack of ownership held by some of our Scout groups for Bonaly. One small step in doing this is the BBPG’s recommendation that we call Bonaly the ‘Bonaly Scout Centre’. And we are reviewing the price of the instructor-led activities to make them more competitive with prices at other centres.
Finally, we will need to think hard in 2019 about how we improve the Perception of Scouting amongst the public. We believe that, by and large, Scouting is well regarded locally, but we do know that we can all do more to let people know about the great opportunities we offer young people and their great achievements, such as raising considerable funds for people in need – for example the Big Sleep out in Princes St Gardens in 2018.
We know that Scouting is successful in our Region because of the dedication of our leaders and supporters, who are all volunteers. Your time, talents, skills and sense of humour make you a real asset to this Region. We want to say, on behalf of all the young people in Scouting in our Region, ‘Thank you’ to all our leaders and volunteers who have given so much to providing the very best of Scouting over the last year – and will do so again, in 2019!