My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Scouting in Wales: 4,000 young people awaiting opportunities

ScoutsCymru has put out an urgent call for volunteers

Rhian Moore

Dear Editor,

You may have seen the news this week that more than 107,000 children and young people across the UK are waiting to join Scouts. These are the highest numbers since Scouts began recording this information and the reason they are on the waiting lists is that, simply, we need more volunteers.

Not being able to welcome every child who would like to join Scouts is a situation we know all too well in Wales. Every week, more than 18,000 four to 24 year olds take part in Scouting activities across Wales. But we have more than 4,000 children and young people who would like to join our adventure – and it saddens us that we currently can’t accommodate them.

It doesn’t surprise us that so many young people in Wales want to join Scouts. They tell us all the time how much they enjoy being a part of the movement. In fact, at our recent All Wales Scout Camp – an event run entirely by volunteers and which saw 1,500 10 to 14 year olds and their leaders coming together for a weekend of fun and adventure at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells – we asked Scouts to tell us (anonymously) what they enjoyed most about Scouting.

Their feedback gave us a great insight into their lives as young people navigating post-pandemic 21st century life. “I have fun and learn exciting things that will help in later life,” said one. Another told us, “Because you can do things you wouldn’t usually do,” perhaps referencing the exciting activities they’d enjoyed that weekend including climbing, rafting and even driving a real car. “I have made friends from all over the world,” wrote one, with another saying, “It’s important as it takes your mind off things.”  One young person even told us they “enjoy having a laugh with the leaders”.

Which brings us to our incredible volunteers. We have more than 4,700 volunteers across Wales without whom Scouting simply couldn’t exist. Lots of them run weekly meetings in Scout halls up and down the country, catering for Squirrels (our newest section for 4 to 6 years olds), Beavers (6 to 8), Cubs (8 to 10.5), Scouts (10.5 to 14), Explorers (14 to 18) and Network (18 to 25, recognising that young people often need support, friendship and opportunities during early adulthood). Other volunteers help cut the grass or drive the minibus. Some step in to balance the books or order the badges the young people earn. Others ensure the smooth running of our Scouting programme and policies at a national level or support their local group as a trustee.

Volunteers aren’t a magic breed of people who have bags of free time. The majority of them also have work and family commitments, and busy lives of their own. They regularly tell us that what drives them is seeing just how much Scouting benefits young people. The confidence it gives them when they try an activity they didn’t think they could do. Knowing they have passed on a skill that will help them in later life. Seeing a once-shy child laughing and running around with their new friends.

And the young people aren’t the only ones who benefit. Our volunteers do too. They make new friends. They, too, learn new skills. They develop areas of expertise that will aid their career progression. We’ve recently revamped our volunteer experience, meaning it’s more flexible than ever before, with a team-based approach so that people can do what they can, when they can.

We’re really proud that Scouting in Wales grew by 2.7% last year, with 335 more young people and 156 more adult volunteers joining the adventure. But we still have 4,000 young people on our waiting lists missing out. Not to mention those who aren’t on our waiting lists, perhaps because there isn’t a group near to where they live, or because the waiting lists are already too big for their local group.

Our ambition is that every child and young person in Wales who wishes to join Scouts has that opportunity.

If you’d like to help us make that happen, come join us!

Visit https://scoutscymru.org.uk/home/volunteer-with-us/ to find out about different opportunities to volunteer in Wales, or email us on [email protected] and we’d be delighted to tell you more.

Rhian Moore
Chief Volunteer Wales
on behalf of ScoutsCymru