You know, when you have a project in mind like starting a new scouting group up, there are a huge amount of unknowns, will you be successful? Will the youth members and parents be happy with the program you are going to offer? Will they like the uniforms? Will they be proud of who they are and the organisation they have decided to become members of? What if no one comes? What about cost, insurance, hall fees, equipment costs etc.
Now this is hard enough when you are part of a National Body like Scouts New Zealand with all the local, regional and National support you may expect to get, but as a fledgling scouting group, or I should say the 1st BBS scouting group in New Zealand for over 100 years, it can seem a very daunting prospect. But here’s the thing, I soon began to realize I have never been on my own in this venture. I received a huge amount of support from parents and youth members and of course from our BBS brothers in the uk.
Help and guidance from the David Cooksley The Grand Scoutmaster in the UK has always been available, normally within the same day, his advice has been forthright and practical, allowing us to develop our own identity and customize our award scheme and uniform to suit young New Zealanders and the prevailing conditions. They have been flexible yet firm allowing us to operate autonomously and grow into the scouting group we have become and which will continue to expand.
So here we stand one year on, all the hard work is beginning to pay off:-
- We have a fantastic board of parent volunteers, who overseas the running of the group.
- We are now a registered organisation.
- We have attained charitable status.
- We carry our own public liability insurance.
- We are a registered vetting agency with the New Zealand Police.
- We have good quality camping equipment, our own light weight tents and are starting to work towards getting the tents we need for longer term camps in the future.
- We have come so far in relatively a short period of time and I so proud of everyone involved from the kids in each section to the parents who have offered so much support and encouragement.
I have even got a parent interested in running the Beaver Colony at last and in the new year, I hope to start advertising for membership in the very near future and gauging interest to see if this section will fly, if there is then of course we need to find a home for them as well.
Being a traditional scouting group has its advantages and disadvantages, not only as an organisation but as a member, some are very obvious, some not so and all of these should be considered when you either join or decide to set up a group like our own.
It should also be noted that traditional scouting isn’t for everyone and as I found last night when speaking to a member of the press, apart from the obvious things like uniform, ceremonies etc, the differences are in reality very subtle and quite hard to describe. Really it’s a philosophy, we tend to spend more time teaching our youth the law and promise and what it means to agree to live by or obey them, the moral obligation they have to look after each other and those around them. To respect our countries laws, our flag and its officers, to help others and to be come good citizens of this country.
Activities form part of this developmental process, but we are not driven by them. In most main stream scouting organisations they seem to now spend more time promoting what they do, rather than who they are and what they represent and are in real danger of just becoming another youth group with a scarf. For me and I would guess for most of the adults who work in traditional scouting groups, it is the eccentricities and traditions that make scouting what it is. Leaving that behind just to appear trendy, is like leaving part of the soul of scouting behind.
Where we go and how will we continue to develop from here, well that will require commitment not only from our board, and our current leaders, but also our future adult leaders and youth members who join us. To enable this growth to continue, really my job now is to create solid programs for our youth, recruit and train adult leaders for the future and continue to develop our group with all the energy I can muster.