I am having trouble writing about anything but yesterday’s St George’s Day Parade for my local Scout District. I volunteer in the background of Scouting as a trustee and so have got to know some of the other trustees and leaders in the area. Some of whom read this blog. One group’s farewell was “we want to read about this in tomorrow’s blog”.
But it’s not just my need to obey orders (subject of another blog?), but actually it was a really fun morning. The beauty of Scouts, or any volunteering in any community group, is feeling part of a community. Being recognised, being greeted, feeling a part of something.
Yesterday about 400-500 Scouts and their volunteer leaders all paraded around Cannon Hill Park, possibly my favourite place in Birmingham. There was a real feeling of community, amongst young people and all their accompanying leaders and parents. The whole thing is supported by a brilliant tech team, who just get on with their roles of setting up sound systems with great humour (and demand blogs) and a great team of organisers creating a day where young people really get to shine.
Young people led the celebration, it’s a cliché I know, but whatever else is happening in the world, watching two young people speak clearly, confidently and incredibly well in public – from a bandstand in a park for goodness sake, with hundreds of people watching and potentially hundreds more in the park hearing it – is a huge hope for the world. Those two young people are out there being a positive part of their local community. They are world changers. As is everyone who goes out on a Sunday morning wearing a uniform to parade around a park on a Saints’ Day, just because they want to celebrate their community (St George is the patron saint of Scouting) which is built on the premise of helping each other and having fun whilst doing it. My fervent hope is that community grows, involving more young people in South Birmingham, coming together, having fun, changing the world. All are very welcome.
PS I keep repeating ‘volunteer’, as it amazes me how many people are very aware of Scouting, often their children attend groups, but still think the leaders are paid – they are not. None of them.
Not quite half way through a meetingtastic week and my brain is beginning to fail. So instead of waking up and trying to write a blog, I decided to do some volunteering this morning. This is totally possible because I am mainly volunteer in a sort of busman’s holiday style in a few realms.
I am a Scout – not a Scout Leader, I never go anywhere near a campfire (which makes me more sad than I had expected), but instead I am a Trustee of a Scout District. A large part of that role involves emails and phone calls and meetings. It’s about overseeing budget, checking that plans fit the aims of Scouting and everyone has the resources they need to create the amazing opportunities that the Scout movement gives to young people. Opportunities to have new experiences, to have fun and to challenge themselves with a ton of support from a group of volunteers dedicated to making sure they are safe and generally having a ball. I have the absolute luxury of feeling a small part of it whilst sipping coffee and writing emails. I am humbled by those who are much more active in their volunteering.
Scouts has an interesting image in the wider community, some still think it is a boys’ organisation – it is not and has not been for years. Some think its old fashioned in its activities. It’s not, but sometimes it is traditional, but I am not sure that is ever a bad thing. Surely a bit of a mix of activity is a really good thing? I have a general concern that we tend to encourage our children to focus on one activity far too early in life, Scouting offers the opportunity to try lots of things, some active, some less so. Some modern activities, some much more traditional, but not less interesting or useful. Tying knots stood my offspring in good stead when they did a course of technical theatre, the course tutors were amazed as the offspring capably tied the ropes for the pieces of set.
That said, they have also learnt a huge amount about team working, leadership and how to cope with challenge, as well as so many activities I cannot list them all here. My mantra for years has been “no, not paying for that, you can do it through Scouts, it will be SO much better”.
And all of this through the dedication of volunteers to the cause of making the world a safer, more enjoyable place for children. And looking at the leaders – young people who grow into enthusiastic citizens, keen to be an active part of their local community.