Scouts ready for challenge to attract more volunteers

Young and adult members of the 6th Morpeth scout group.
Young and adult members of the 6th Morpeth scout group.

With the number of scouts in the Morpeth area on the increase across the different age ranges, groups based in town are highlighting a new Scout Association initiative as they aim to attract more adult volunteers.

The four-week challenge gives people a taste of what is involved if they become a helper and opportunities are available to take on leadership roles for those who decide that scouting is for them at the end of the programme.

Explorers from the Castle Morpeth district during a water activities weekend at Kielder.

Explorers from the Castle Morpeth district during a water activities weekend at Kielder.

Even the group scout leaders (GSLs) are volunteers who give up some of their spare time to manage the adult volunteers across the sections.

Three scout leaders recently spoke to the Herald and they said that as well as developing young people’s life skills, volunteering can also be beneficial to the adults.

In addition, there are important roles at the organisation where you do not have to assist with or run activities for children or teenagers.

The beavers, cubs and scouts sections of the 4th and 6th Morpeth groups have weekly sessions and excursions such as camps, hikes, trips to fire stations and fun outings – including ten-pin bowling and ice skating.

The contingent, including leaders, from the 4th Morpeth, 6th Morpeth, and 1st Ponteland scout groups and Morpeth and Ponteland explorer units at a major jamboree in Denmark earlier this year.

The contingent, including leaders, from the 4th Morpeth, 6th Morpeth, and 1st Ponteland scout groups and Morpeth and Ponteland explorer units at a major jamboree in Denmark earlier this year.

Graham Langston, 6th Morpeth GSL, said: “Everyone who does end up becoming a leader or helper will have their own experience, but they tell us that they get a great deal of satisfaction out of helping young people, including their own children if they are a parent helper, to develop some important life skills.

“We’re now inviting adults to try the four-week challenge to see how things are run and get involved in an activity, but we’re also happy if you prefer to come along for a chat and then we take things from there, particularly if you are interested in one of our administrative roles.

“For anybody thinking about working with children either through teaching, university course or as an outward bound instructor, this is an excellent route for improving your CV and learning how to work with children.

“Even if you can only help out now and again or work shifts, we still want to hear from you.”

The four-week challenge starts off with participants coming along and seeing what happens in a typical session.

It then moves on to helping out a little and possibly having an important role in the running of an activity in the final week.

Liam Walsh, 4th Morpeth GSL, said: “We have 260 young people who enjoy an exciting programme of activities every week and more adults makes the delivery of the programme easier on everyone.

“We work very hard to offer flexible volunteering – this means it doesn’t have to be helping every week and doesn’t have to be working with the young people.

“We also have social activities for the leaders themselves and we pay all fees associated with these activities.

“We train our leaders not just in life skills such as fire lighting, mapwork and leadership but in adventurous activities such as kayaking, archery and air rifle shooting.”

The explorer section, which covers the 14 to 18 age range, will often go on expeditions and activity trips and some will go oversees for special camps and jamborees.

The work they do at weekly sessions includes developing their leadership and teamwork skills and exploring their values and views on key issues in more depth.

In addition, many of the teenagers will do the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme whilst they are an explorer scout.

Clive Rich, explorer scout commissioner for the Castle Morpeth scouting district, said: “More adult volunteers means we can do more outdoor activities to satisfy the extra numbers in our section and the others.

“Explorer leaders and assistants have the chance to accompany the young people on trips and jamborees to other parts of the UK and abroad.

“You don’t need to have the practical skills of (chief scout) Bear Grylls, just a small amount of his enthusiasm and desire to see young people develop.

“And if you do happen to have a qualification in something like orienteering, climbing or first aid, or experience as a secretary, treasurer or trustee with a community organisation, then it would be great if you could have a chat with us about potentially sparing a little of your time to help a scout group.”

For more information about volunteering with the scouts, call or text 07982 495577 or email enquiries@castlemorpethscouts.org.uk