"Why are you still involved in Scouting and Guiding?"
It can be difficult for people who are not involved in either organisation to understand why I would give up hours of my (often limited) spare time to take part in camps, meetings, trips. But this is the point of this (potentially long) blog.
A brief summary of my background before I continue: I joined the 21st Wakefield Brownies at aged 7 where I am now a leader, running weekly meetings for girls aged between 7 - 10. Over my time in Guiding I have been a Guide (10-14 year old) I'm currently a member of The Senior Section (14-25) and I am involved in things such as Peer Education and being a Spokesperson for the organisation. At 14 I made the decision to join Scouting, and I joined the Apollo Explorer Unit (14-18) in Wakefield, and I am now a member of the Wakefield Scout Network (18-25) and the Media Development Manager for the Wakefield area.
So, back to the initial question- Why am I still involved? I've tried to organise my thoughts and feelings into sections- the order of the sections is not important, they are not ranked in the importance to me, they are more in the logical order my brain decided to present them to me.
So, I apologise in advance for length, but i'd love to hear your thoughts and why you volunteer with either Scouting or Guiding...
Being involved in both Scouting and Guiding have presented numerous opportunities to me throughout the many years i've been involved, and still do today. From sailing around the top of Scotland on a Tall Ship, to camping in Sweden to travelling around the country- without my involvement in these organisations, I know I wouldn't have achieved half of these things. Even today, as an adult, I am able to have new experiences: an example of this is that in 2013 I was in charge of a Video Team at Poacher 2013, an international Scout and Guide Camp held in Lincoln, where we made daily videos of the activities going on to show to the outside world what we were doing and how much fun we were having! An example of one of these videos is here:
This camp was run entirely by volunteers- adults like myself who had taken paid time off from their day jobs to help young people have the experience of a lifetime. Unless you were there, it's hard to describe the feeling of pride and happiness you get when you are stood in the middle of a field where over 4,000 young people are surrounding you, making memories which you know will stay with them for a lifetime.
When I was 16 I was privileged attended the World Scout Jamboree to celebrate the centenary of Scouting and this feeling of being among like minded people, learning about new cultures and meeting new people has stuck with me since then- and through experiences like this, both experiences past and experiences upcoming, the new challenges which I can face and overcome keep me in Scouting and Guiding.
I suppose this is the crux of why i'm still in Scouting and Guiding. I love to help people. As I volunteer with 7-10 year olds, I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing girls achieve a personal challenge. I have been a helper with Brownies since I was around 12, however at 18 I completed my 'Leadership Qualification' where I learnt more about the Guiding programme and how I can help girls develop better. I'd like to think that since learning this, I have put it into practice every time I have come into contact with a young person.
I've also had the fortune to help with some 'behind the scenes' work too, from helping with Media work promoting the organisations to re-writing parts of the programme. Although these may not instantly seem like they are helping other people, the eventual outcomes (Whether it be a new resource which makes a girl realise she doesn't have to be treated in a certain way, or a media piece which recruits new leaders and young people) affect lives.
I know that from being young person, many people have put hours of their precious time into helping me into the person I am today. These are: people who have run weekly meetings for me, run camps and weekends away where I can learn skills to be more independent, people who have sat and talked with me when i've needed some support. I'm happy to say that I class many of these people as friends (As some of these people I no longer have contact with) and I always try to help them out if they need it- in the same way that they have for me.
The helping others can come in so many different forms though- I have chosen the time I invest in helping people and the amount that I am involved in Guiding and Scouting. You only need to give as much time as you want to.
Both Scouting and Guiding have introduced me to some of my closest friends. I don't have enough space or time to speak about them individually. However, I have been introduced to some of the most incredible and inspirational people over the past 15 years- and have made friends who I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life.
At each event I help at, I meet people who I get along with instantly. The beauty of Scouting and Guiding is that everyone is the same- it doesn't matter what your background is, or where you're from... You're all there for the same reason. I spend many hours speaking with friends from around the country, and even more hours visiting them. I've found both organisations are perfect ways to meet amazing people, people who you can instantly get along with, and it's very rare I meet anyone I don't like!
I could easily have filled this section of my blog with photos of people i've met- however this simply isn't viable, I have so many friends who I value and who I would entrust with my life, the majority I would not have met without being involved with Scouting and Guiding. This, in itself, is enough to keep me involved in both organisations. Here's a few photos of people i've met over the past 15 years.
I do have to mention one person in particular- my best friend Laura. We met 15 years ago when I started at the same Brownie Unit that Laura attended. She was my Sixer (group leader) and took me under her wing. Over the past 15 years we've grown to being best friends. We've supported each other through the good and bad times. She's more like a sister than a friend to me (Even her family think of me as an additional family member!) I don't know what I would do without Laura, and I know that without Guiding I wouldn't have met her and wouldn't have her ongoing friendship! (Soppy moment over!)
This is where my blog may sound very similar to other people's on the same subject. I cannot count on my hands the number of transferrable skills I have developed and learnt through my time in the movements- and this learning and personal development is ongoing.
Organisation, Time Keeping, Leadership, Teamwork, Money awareness, Multi-tasking are just some which I have developed through my work with a unit. These are skills which are not only useful in a Guiding or Scouting situation, but also skills which employers look for and value in potential employees. I firmly believe that without having developed these skills through the organisations that I wouldn't have the jobs I have had in my past. Both Guiding and Scouting offer real world skills training, skills which are valued by employees and look fantastic on CVs and job applications. I've also had the opportunity to learn First Aid too, which is a particularly vital skill, and one which could aid me in saving a life.
I have also discovered my career through my involvement In 2006 I got involved with Media work at Scouting HQ through their 'Young Spokesperson' Training and this is where my eyes were opened up to the Media and the world of marketing. Since my initial training, and doing the same in Guiding, I have been on BBC Radio 4 discussing airbrushing, in Mizz magazine speaking about the pressures on young people to look 'good,' and so many local tv/radio stations generally enthusing about Guiding and Scouting!
As well as national work, I volunteer yearly on Media Teams on camps and events around the country. I have had varying roles from Reporter to Photographer to Videographer. Each of these experiences have taught me more about patience and time management and team work than I could ever imagine. Being involved in these teams also lead me onto my career path- after working with the media voluntarily for years, I undertook a degree in Broadcast Media Production and now work in Social Media and Marketing for a Media Streaming Company. Without being involved in Scouting and Guiding i'm not sure whether I would have found this 'calling' and I will always be thankful for this opportunity to find myself.
Support may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about Guiding or Scouting, but in my experience, there are a lot of people around to support you. I have a few examples which I want to share, they aren't the happiest stories- however, I feel they are important to why I am still involved today.
When I started high school in 2002 I was bullied- not just name calling, but physically, mentally and had death threats made against me, to the point where I no longer wanted to go to school. My friends and leaders in Guiding were aware of the situation and helped me when they could and when I needed it. They were always a source of smiles and laughter and they formed a safe place, the only place where I felt accepted and appreciated for who I am. After a long 9 month battle with the high school I was at, I was moved schools to one outside of the area, but to one where friends from Guides went. From the moment I started there- my Guide friends (even though they were older) made me feel welcome and helped. We caught the bus together and they made me feel safe and helped me adapt to a different school, different way of life. I know those 9 months would have been much more difficult without that friendship and support.
In 2011 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy, a neurological condition which causes me to have repetitive seizures (If you don't know about Epilepsy, please visit http://www.epilepsy.org.uk) and this was a diagnosis which really impacted me. I found it hard to adjust to the 'news' and people in Guiding and Scouting were really kind and understanding to me. I found myself with offers of shoulders to cry or moan on, people who already had the condition offering me advice, but also people looking after me if I was ill around them. I found the support overwhelming at times, however it's comforting to know that there were people there to support me if I needed it. 2 years on from diagnosis, I still find it hard, and there are still people who want to help and support me. From my experience, people in Scouting and Guiding are always willing to help, whether that means giving me a bit more support with a task, or letting me have a lie down on camp if i'm not feeling too good. I think the diagnosis and adapting life would have been much more difficult without this support network.
I will always be thankful to people in Guiding and Scouting who have helped and listened to me when i've had difficulties over the past 15 years. I want to be the support to other people who may need it, I want to give back the support and help i've had to those who may need it.
And finally... it's fun!
Helping people and running events may sound boring and time consuming, but all I can say is that it's so much fun! Some of my happiest memories are from Scouting and Guiding events, I have cupboards and drawers full of hoodies and badges which remind me of camps and weekends away. Where else could you climb a rock, go gliding, meet people from different countries and never stop laughing... all in one place?! I honestly believe that Scouting and Guiding is beneficial to all those involved. I know my weekly meetings and camps are highlights to my week, and camps are some of the highlights of my year!
I'd recommend that everyone gets involved with Scouting or Guiding, they're both great organisations, and ones I would definitely recommend membership of. Give it a go, make some unforgettable memories and some amazing friends.
To find out where you can get involved... please visit:
I hope this blog starts to explain why I am still involved, and what you can get out of the organisations as an adult.
Hopefully my next blog will be a bit shorter!