Is scouting still relevant to the youth of today?

By Editor, Dec 21 2018 07:49PM

Boys running around in knee high socks? Helping old women cross the road? Running around shouting “DYB DYB DYB, DOB DOB DOB”? None of this seems relevant to the party going, brand wearing youth of today, and yet all are associated with scouting. As styles and music tastes have matured over the past 150 years, so has scouting - leaving Baden-Powell’s ‘DYB DYB’ing wolf cubs as relics of the past. There are approximately 391,000 scouts, both male and female, across the UK aged between 6 and 25. They are all flourishing young people who are learning much more than just how to tie a reef knot. 


Scouting’s mission is to ensure that ‘scouting actively engages and supports young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society’, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones and introducing them to new activities. Many people who have been exposed to this kind of experience have gone far. Sir David Attenborough, an documentarian of legendary status; Tony Blair, former prime minister; and Sir Richard Branson, world leading entrepreneur are among the advocates. It seems out of the question for the kids of today to not have these kinds of opportunities, yet there are still some people whose view of scouting is stuck in the past. 


Youth shaped scouting is where the youth are put in positions of leadership to teach them organization and leadership skills. The hashtag "#skillsforlife" is used throughout the scouting social media accounts and is made the forefront of many scouting events throughout the movement. Leadership roles are taken on by members throughout the age groups, starting as young as 8, with opportunities constantly renewing. Helping to plan the program or individual evenings or events stimulates independence and organizational skills. Independence granted on camps encourages them to think for themselves. Children as young as 9 learn to do tasks such as washing up, cooking, putting up tents and collecting fire wood which are skills that are rarely taught by parents until their teenage years and help them mature as people. People skills and public speaking, although taught in schools, are developed and nurtured in a less pressured environment and are constantly applicable in later life. 


The scouting values are care, respect, integrity, cooperation and belief, and these values develop the character of the scouts. The movement is multicultural and fully inclusive, exposing children to how others live and challenging prejudice. Those that are handicapped in any way still get to experience the same opportunities as their peers; no mountain is too high or activity too dangerous for anyone. 

International and global opportunities are also available through scouting, allowing young people to interact with other scouts from around the world. These opportunities enable them to experience the cultural differences, even within their common interest, and exchange the values and information that they have drawn from scouting to educate one another. The JOTA (Jamboree On The Airwaves) and JOTI (Jamboree On The Internet) are global events for young people to contact other scouts and chat about any topic without even leaving their own town. The European and World Scout Jamborees, despite being selective events, allow scouts to visit areas all over the world and view them from a different perspective. People often grow new eyes when the glistening hotels and pristine swimming pools are removed. These immersive experiences and various other opportunities are rarely accessible through school and help to make scouts more employable and generally more rounded human beings. 


Why should a young person not become a scout? Scouting may make them a more employable, less biased and more skilled adult; encourage them to become a scout and watch them flourish. 

By Ella Danks — 3rd Epsom (St Martin's) Scout Group

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