Numbers in Scouting Grow Again!

The results of this year’s Census have just been published and is shows that the number of Scouts and Leaders are up again!

From the Scout Association’s website

Scouting has grown for the fourth year running. Adult volunteering is increasing at the fastest rate for 23 years and there are now just as many girls as boys joining the Movement.
This year Scouting has seen an increase in adult volunteers with growth up from 1.6% to 2.6%. There have only been two other occasions in the last 23 years where the growth of adult leaders has exceeded 2%.
Female membership is up 11% across the UK smashing the 50K barrier. A surge of over 5,500 new girl Scouts means that over the past 12 months almost as many girls as boys have signed up to the adventure of Scouting.
Girls have been part of the adventure since 1976 and this year female membership pushed well past the 50,000 mark to a record 56,470.
This means that girls now account for 14% of all youth members of the Scout Movement. Female leadership is also booming, with women now making up around 43% of all adult volunteers.


I haven’t copied the entire text, which you can read for yourself.

This is really great news and proves what a great job Groups are doing up and down the country. I think a part of the reason for the increase in numbers is the Centenary celebrations in 2007. By getting a lot of positive publicity, this reminded people that we still existed and that we provide interesting, different and challenging activities for young people which doesn’t involve the TV!

An interesting point to note is the number of adults has increased again. Without adult Leaders, Groups cannot provide the quality programmes and numbers decrease.

It’s quite noticeable that our Group is virtually full and cannot take any more kids in any of the sections! This is not through want of Leaders, but through the fact that we can’t reasonably fit any more in the hall.

That’s kind of a nice situation to be in!

St. George’s Day Parade

Just back from our District’s St. George’s day Parade. It is quite impressive to see so many young people from both the Guiding and Scouting Movements in one place. When we were parading, we couldn’t hear the band at the front for most of the time as they were so far away from us!

When we got to the Church, we filled it!

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The theme of the ‘service’ was working together. I say ‘service’ as it was mainly a few hymns, including the Scout Hymn and the National Anthem, some songs, a sketch by the Beavers and the presenting of a Queen’s Scout Award. And of course we all renewed our promises.

Not a bad afternoon and it is good to be able to parade through Newcastle in such numbers and remind people that we’re still here and still providing interesting and different thing for our young people to do.

By George! It’s time to Celebrate Scouting’s Patron Saint

Happy St.George's Day!

From the Scout Association –

Over the next few days Scout Groups across the UK will be preparing events to celebrate St George, the patron saint of Scouting.

Like Scouting, St George supports people of all backgrounds across the world. Not only is he the patron saint of Scouting, but also for England, Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to Saint Mark).
He's also the patron saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis (source: BBC). And of course, he’s a dab hand at dispatching any grumpy dragons that may be plaguing your town.
When asked recently about his patronage of Scouting, St George said ‘Scouting is a fantastic organisation to be involved in. The work it does with young people across the world providing them with the opportunity of adventure and developing new skills is something everybody should applaud.

'Recently I witnessed some Scouts being taught how to light a fire for the first time on camp. I admit the flames made me a bit nervous, ever since that thing with the dragon I’ve had a bit of an aversion to fire, but it was great to see how excited and inspired the young people were by this new skill they’d learnt.’ 

Queen's Scouts from across the UK will be celebrating St George and their achievements at the yearly national event at Windsor this Sunday. There they will meet the Chief Scout and a representative of Scouting's other patron, the Queen.

The Queen's Scout Award is the highest achievement in Scouting. To gain the award Scouts have to take part in a number of  activities, complete an adventurous expedition and prove their skills.

 Can't put it any better myself, so I won't!

My Country’s Flag

800px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom_(3-5).svg This is the flag of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


This is the flag of England which is part of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Tomorrow, 23rd April, is St. George’s Day. St. George, is the patron saint of England, Ethiopia, Georgia amongst others and the patron Saint of Scouting. On the Sunday closest to St. George’s day, Scouts in the UK take part in a parade in their town or village, attend a church service and renew our Promise.

The parade is normally (in England certainly) lead by a Scout Band, followed by the UK flag and the flag of England (St. George’s Cross) and then each of the Groups or sections with their own flags.

However, one of our local Districts has been told not to parade with either the UK or English flags! You will have to forgive me if I am deliberately vague here, but I can’t get into specifics.

The reason for this is one of the areas they are parading through has a predominantly Asian population and offence doesn’t want to be given to the local population!

The problem is that the UK and English flags have been used by far right and racist organisations and now have the ‘wrong image’ within the Asian community.

However, this stance offends ME. The Scouts of this District have been parading with these two flags for many, many years without causing offence. They are our national flags, the flags of this country. How stupid to say you can’t parade with your own country’s flag in your own country! I could never see this happening in Canada or the USA, for example, where they are proud of their flags and what they represent.

At my District’s parade on Sunday, we will have the UK and English flags at the head of our parade and we will be proud to parade behind them!

Getting Information Home

My Scout Group is of an average size with around 70 – 80 Beavers, Cubs and Scouts at the moment and we’ve been finding getting information back to the parents can be trying at times!

The traditional way is to send letters home with the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts for their parents. However this can be very hit and miss. The letters always get home when it’s about a camp etc, but seem to be a little less reliable when it come to comes to more ‘boring’ subjects such as Church Services and money!

We have our website with a calendar for forthcoming events (as long as the Leaders remember to tell me!), but that doesn’t seem to be used too often by members of the Group or parents, so this weekend I’ve done a few things to try to help communication.

I’ve written a newsletter which will be given out when everyone returns from the Easter holidays next week. This is the traditional method and as it’s newsletter with lots of different information on there is a very good chance it will get home.

The other thing I’ve done and is more ‘modern’ is set up a group page on Facebook for the Scout Group (search for ‘porthill’ and look at the groups section and you can’t miss us!) and a Twitter feed for the Group.

Whether or not this will help us to communicate with everyone, I do not know, but it’s got to be worth a try.


I am very proud to say that today marks the 25th anniversary of my Group’s Cub Leader becoming an official, appointed Leader. She started helping out with the Pack when my Dad & Mum ran it and took out an official appointment as an Assistant Cub Leader when she was old enough. Since then, she became the Cub Leader and has got married and raised two daughters (one of whom is now our Beaver Leader).

To be a Leader for this long shows great commitment to Scouting and the young people in our area. I know some people become stale after a long period in one role and we all have ‘off weeks’, but the Pack is full and along with some of the newer Assistants (well every other Leader is newer really!) she has come up with some exciting activities over the next few months and the Cubs are earning badges faster than I can order them!

At the Group’s Annual General Meeting in June, we’ll be making a fuss of her and making some presentations to her as a way of saying a huge thank you. I can get away with writing all this without giving the game away as I know she won’t read this!

Twenty five years shows real commitment to Scouting and I’m very impressed and proud that she is in our Group and long may she continue!


After I wrote about last weekend’s hike and camp with the Scouts and mentioned that my boots rubbed and gave me a blister, up popped this post on the Troop 483 Blog on keeping your feet happy. Wow that’s timing!

With all that in mind, yesterday Carol and I had a day out to Betws-y-Coed and hit the outdoor shops. It’s a bit of a trek there (160 miles round trip), but it’s a lovely place to visit and meant we had a nice day out.

We went to Cotswold Outdoors and I had my feet sized properly and boots fitted. I tried three totally different types of boot and two didn’t feel right and didn’t fit correctly and one boot was fine, so these were the ones I bought.

I also got some new socks (thought I’d go the whole hog), so this should mean I won’t get blisters! I’m going to try them out in a day or two by walking part of the route we did last week, as this simple easy hike was the one which caused my problems!

So as Buffaloeagle says keep your feet happy!

Patrol Leader’s Meeting

Last night, as it’s the Easter Holidays, the Scout Leader decided to have a Patrol Leader’s meeting with the PLs and Assistant Patrol Leaders. It was a shame that only half were able to attend as the rest were away.

No matter, we talked about who the new PL and APL were to be, as the incumbent will be leaving us for Explorers soon. The suggestions were sensible and they gave it some proper thought. Also, the issue of one of the APLs was covered. His behaviour has been deteriorating of late and his PL is getting fed up with the constant messing around. So after some discussion it was decided he was to be on probation for 4 weeks and if he does not improve then he will be demoted and the role given to someone else. We even discussed who that could be. The PLs and APLs there gave all this some serious thought and were very mature in their thinking. I have to say that I am impressed with them and the way they’ve grown up recently.

After that, we talked about what activities they would like to do in the future and we told them about the various activity badges they can earn and how to go about researching what they need to do themselves to gain the awards.

I suspect there will be a large badge order coming up soon! But that’s how it’s meant to be and a good thing.

They all enjoyed the walking last weekend and want to do more. One even suggested a week’s walking and camping until we pointed out that we’d need to do a lot of practise before we could do that! However, it shows what great enthusiasm there is in the Troop for getting out and about and you can’t knock that and must encourage it!

Getting Back In The Saddle

Well hiking boots actually!

We took the Scouts hiking for the first time this weekend. This was the first time they’d been on a serious hike and they also had to carry all their kit with them. Because this was the case, we split them up into two groups. The under 12s did a slightly shorter route of around 3 miles and the 12s and over did about 4.5 miles. Not a great distance you may think, but quite a haul when you’ve no previous experience! As well as walking, the Scouts were using their recently learnt mapping skills with a little prompt here and there from us Leaders!

We were very impressed how well all the Scouts did and none of them were physical wrecks by the time we reached our destination! We, of course, did this correctly as when starting out on any physical activity you start gently and work your way up.

We arrived at the Scout Hut of one of our local Groups who are just on the edge of the countryside and set up the tents and had lunch. After lunch we were able to use their indoor climbing wall and do some indoor archery. We have been there before to do climbing and it’s an excellent resource for all Groups in the area. In fact the Group who owns the hut and wall are very generous as they will let any Group use their facilities and not expect any money back! As we brought along a climbing instructor (non of our or their Leaders are certified yet), we invited their Scouts to do some climbing while we were there and we gave them a donation for the use of the facilities.

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Me helping out with the climbing

Tea was cooked on Trangias by the older Scouts and on the fire by the younger ones and the Leaders. After tea the Scouts worked out the route plans for the next days walk home and then did some bouldering on the climbing wall and then it was bed time.

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Saturday evening’s sunset (a great photo even though I say so myself!)

Next morning we packed up and walked back to where we started.

A good weekend out for the Scouts, and for me personally, one that proved that I can still do hiking! I was a bit concerned about my current fitness as it’s a while since I’ve done any serious walking and I know that I will need to get somewhat fitter to do some of the more strenuous walks I’ve done in the past. But at least everything still works! One minor problem was that my boots rubbed me a bit and I got a blister on my heel (thank goodness for blister plasters), so it’s off to get some new, properly fitted boots next week!

Not a Good Afternoon

This afternoon I went to the funeral of my friend’s baby daughter.

She was carried into the Church by her 3 brothers in a small pink coffin which wasn’t much bigger than a shoe box. The service was very simple and music was played in Church that was played as she was born. She was carried out of the Church by her Dad and a simple, slow nursery rhyme was played on a piano. She was then buried in the Church Yard.

There were many friends and family there and I’m glad to say that many of the parents of the boy’s fellow Cubs were there too along with myself, the Scout and Cub Leaders representing our Group.

This was a sad and awful occasion, the burying of a baby and the worst 45 minutes I’ve experienced in a long time.

RIP Maisie.