Can you help Charmouth Scouts by taking on the ‘Four Week Challenge’

Charmouth ScoutsNO one likes disappointing a young person, but nearly every week, one of the leaders in 1st Charmouth Scout Group has to do just that.

The reason? No, it’s nothing to do with a knot that’s been tied incorrectly or a lashing that has come loose, but all to do with a lack of scope to take on any new members.

Karen Southcott, joint Group Scout Leader (GSL), said: “It’s really gratifying for our section leaders to know that the activities they run are so well received by their members that they cannot stop telling their school friends about them.

“However, it’s disappointing when they have to respond to a joining enquiry by telling the parent that unless we can find more adults to support our current leaders, we cannot accept anyone else.

“Across the UK, there are young people who want to join the Scout movement, but cannot because of a shortage of extra adult help. Here in Charmouth, the picture is the same.

“We have a number of six year olds who cannot join our Beaver colony, and eight and nine year olds who have been waiting over six months to join our Cub pack.

“Furthermore, our Scout troop is bursting at the seams and the Charmouth Seagulls Explorer Unit, with which we are linked, will soon top 20 members.

“If we had a bit more help, we could take on a few extra members and offer our current ones a far greater range of activities.”

Melanie Harvey, joint GSL, realises that working with young people can be a bit off-putting for some, but insists it’s really great fun and there’s scope to ‘try before you buy’.

“We invite adults to take the ‘Four Week Challenge’ – come along for four weeks so you can take part in a variety of different activities and get a feel for how the section works,” she said.

“Then make a decision regarding whether you want to stay or not, with no pressure or obligation. But, so far, everyone has decided to stay! We just need a few more to take up the challenge.”

The Scout Group recently asked its current helpers why they volunteered and what they got out of it, and here are some of the answers.

Mary Saunders, who is retired and has just started helping with the Cub pack, said: “I missed children, so I tried it and loved it. It’s so much fun!”

Harry Pearce, aged 24, said: “Volunteering to work with the Beaver colony has given me the chance for new experiences, to help out and get involved with the local community, and have fun while I’m at it!”

Karen volunteered because she had seen the opportunities it created for her own daughter.

“When she was an Explorer Scout, she was selected to go to the World Scout Jamboree in the USA,” she said.

“Over three weeks, she was able to meet up with Scouts from over 200 countries around the world creating a lifetime of memories.”

Anyone aged 18 years or older can become an adult helper in the Scout movement; the only criterion is a desire to help young people develop skills for life and reach their full potential.

Volunteers can choose the age range they work with: Beaver aged 6-8; Cubs aged 8 -11 years; Scouts aged 11-14; and Explorers aged 14-18, and they do not have to become uniformed leaders or commit to helping out every week.

Furthermore, with so many badges to work towards, most adults will be able to pass on a skill or kindle an interest.

Melanie added: “And don’t be scared about helping at a large group. During weekly meetings, we always split our sections into groups of five or six, and ensure the current rota of adult helpers work alongside an experienced uniformed leader.

“Working with small groups has gone down well with current parents who have volunteered to help, and we send out the programme in advance so they can select an activity that appeals to them.

“If you are recently retired, currently looking for work or found you have more time on your hands and have thought about volunteering as a way to meet other people in your area following lock-down, this is an ideal opportunity.

“It’s the chance to make a real difference to our local youth community, so why not come along, try our ‘Four Week Challenge’ and see if you would like to join our friendly, sociable Scout group.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about helping out and taking the ‘Four Week Challenge should contact Melanie on 07890 540 979 or email melanie@atthecoast.co.uk, or Karen on 07799 500 720 or email karen.southcott@btinternet.com.

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