Friday, 29 April 2016

Scouting needs you

One thing I've discovered since becoming an Assistant Beaver Scout Leader is how unwilling (or unable) people are to give up their time to help with meetings.  I'm not talking about everyone obviously as there are 100,000 volunteers in Scouting across the world who do an amazing job - if you are nodding along to this sentence you are one of them.

This week one of out brilliant assistant leaders had to step down due to work pressures (we all know that feeling don't we) so for the last 2 weeks I've been putting messages on my emails and in newsletters asking for parents to help out, I've also been using social media to recruit, tweeting and emailing out to voluntary groups I know of and even asking the church we are next to to get the message out and yet no one has come forward, not even to say "I can do next week for you".

Don't get me wrong some of our parents will help, they just like to wait until 10 minutes before the meeting to make that decision and I'm a bit of a planning freak - I like to know who to expect so I can assign them roles in my planning (my brain turns to mush about 5.30pm). One night we had an amazing 4 parents stay, last week the local uni sent us 5 volunteers - I almost didn't know what to do with them all, they seemed to enjoy themselves but as yet none have got in touch to say "Sign me up"!!!!

I completely get why Scouting leaders are built up from lots of parents and ex-parents.  Until last October when my son started I'd not have dreamt of volunteering, I'd not have known they even needed helpers.  Now I feel really sad when I read of groups struggling to get leaders, but there is only so much of me, only so much time I have.  

I work 30 hours a week (something I'm not sure our parents realise), and my husband works evenings so where-ever I go my kids have to come too.   As of January 2017 I'll be helping out at Beavers and Cubs as I'll have a child at each and I can't wait, I couldn't do it at the moment though I still think my youngest (only just 5) is a little small to go to Cubs.  It's not that he couldn't hold his own there, he joins us on sleepovers and takes part in everything the Beavers do, he'll be walking for JOTT with us as well.  I just feel the extra late night once a week may be a bit too much for him at the moment.  So whenever a parent says "I could help by x would have to come with me" we make as much effort as possible to give that child the best evening ever.

We do ask a lot of our uniformed volunteers (if they have the time to give) but never make them feel bad if they can't make any of the sessions,  We tend to have at least 1 (if not 2) weekend sessions a term on top of the normal weekly session as well as a sleepover (1 or 2 nights) every term
  We like our uniformed leaders to get involved in the planning of the programme as it's part of the training modules but if they don't have time to do this we don't make them,   We like them to join us at leaders meetings and exec meetings, but if it's not their thing or they have other commitments that'd fine too.
  Then there is the training, there are a number of modules to complete if you want to be a warranted Beaver Scout Leader (or Assistant Leader), you get 5 years to complete these in so it's not as if there is lots of pressure (but when you have a full time job and family just finding the time to do one can be difficult).  They are, mainly, interesting  and I'd not have been persuaded to get my First Aid qualification if I'd not volunteered.

It's not all about uniformed leadership, Scouting couldn't function without our occasional helpers, parents and members of the community who literally give us 1 hour a month to assist during the meeting.

If you've been persuaded to volunteer then Scouting would love to hear from you.  Visit  to find your nearest group.

If you live in Sheffield and think you can help our Beaver Scouts, please get in touch with me.

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