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ianwilkins

Hi From The Uk

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Hi folks,

 

Ok, I've posted a few times already, so I'd better introduce myself.

 

Hi, I'm Ian, and I'm an Explorer Scout Leader in Surrey, England.

 

Explorer scouts is a mixed gender section for 14-17 year olds. I'm in overall charge of three units of Explorers in our local town (official title "District Explorer Scout Commissioner", but that feels a bit grandiose for little old me), and double up as a leader in one of the units because I don't want to be one of those manager admin people that never sees any kids, I like running things with the kids.

 

I've been a leader since I aged out of the oldest section, *ahem* some time ago *cough*, with a break for a year or two when I started a family.

 

As well as being a manager and a leader, I help run an annual national camp for Explorer Scouts which, I admit, isn't the most scouty thing in the world, Theme Park Camp http://themeparkcamp.uk, which does what it says on the tin, with added disco and fire. It brings scouts together from different places, and shows scouting is bigger than their unit, and they love it very much indeed.

 

Does that all fill my time? Oh yes, but just for kicks I also run Jambowlree http://www.jambowlree.org, the World Scout Ten Pin Bowling Championship. An online unofficial annual competition open to all sections from all countries, that, thanks to this here internet, seems to have taken off somewhat, it seems Australians go bowling to escape the heat, and Canadians to get away from the cold. I'll no doubt mention it properly in another thread somewhere else, and maybe get a few US scouts involved too.  :)

 

Not just here to advertise stuff mind you, hoping to be able to chip my 2p in when I can.

 

Ian

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Welcome, better late than never.  I hope you post more often than 9 times a year.

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Thanks for the details. It's good to know more about the fella behind Jambowlree..

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Welcome, better late than never.  I hope you post more often than 9 times a year.

 

I'll "do my best" as they say.

 

Ian

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Welcome, Ian.  Some of your "mates" are already at the campfire here.  Just curious...in the US, we are all mostly volunteers with "day jobs", except for the "professional staff" who run the business of the local Councils.  Are you considered a volunteer or a professional Scouter?  What is your vocation?

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Welcome, Ian.  Some of your "mates" are already at the campfire here.  Just curious...in the US, we are all mostly volunteers with "day jobs", except for the "professional staff" who run the business of the local Councils.  Are you considered a volunteer or a professional Scouter?  What is your vocation?

 

We are too also mostly volunteers with day jobs. The "chain of command" is all volunteer too. So my "scout boss" is a volunteer, the District Commissioner, in charge of all the scouts in the district (about 800 inc leaders in our case, this varies hugely). His "scout boss" is a volunteer, the County Commissioner (about 6000 inc leaders, again, varies hugely by county), and so on. The chief commissioner of the UK is a volunteer (basically the boring bits the chief scout used to do until they went down the celeb route), mind you, I've no idea when he actually does any of a day job, if he has one, seems to be scouting full time more or less.

 

We do have paid employees, our county has a secretary to do admin stuff, and our campsite has staff too, I expect that's common to most counties, depending on size. There is a paid HQ team that do all sorts of things, inc running a phone helpline.

 

I would say that if you exclude campsite staff, there's probably not more than 500-600 people employed over all.

 

So, yes, I'm a volunteer, and it's my vocation, but it doesn't pay well, so I'm a java programmer in my other life.  ;)

 

Ian

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Welcome to the virtual campfire. I look forward to reading your posts! You have some interesting perspectives on scouting!

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Hi and Welcome.

I crossed the pond just over 30 years back - Yes that makes me feel old!

Some of my fondest scouting memories are from being a Service Team Member at Walton Firs, back when it was a National Camp Site.

The Camp Warden was Bill Cook a very interesting fellow who while at times was maybe a little eccentric ? Was a gifted Scouter. He served in the Royal Navy as a Signals Officer on submarines. Was truly gifted with Scout pioneering and I think it was from him that I got my great love of messing around with rope and building stuff.

He was very much responsible for bringing the Scout Rifle Shoot to Walton Firs.

A few years before leaving England it seemed that a great number of my pals moved from London out to Surrey.

I lived in Fulham and the prices of property seemed to sky-rocket.

I still have a few friends that I keep in contact with.

You might know Martin Gerrard?

Martin was very much my mentor when I was a young leader. In fact he took me under his wing when I was organizing my first summer camp.

I know that he went on to serve at some very high places, but to date I have yet to meet anyone who just seemed to have the knack of just communicating with young people and having them listen to his every word.

 

Just before he retired from the London Metropolitan Police my family were visiting home Martin arranged for us to have lunch in the VIP dining room at New Scotland Yard - He'd come a long way! When we first met he was still a constable.

I have a wonderful story about how one day we were driving from Fulham to Walton Firs when we came across two guys fighting, one was bashing the other with an iron bar. Martin broke up the fight. He isn't a small man, he stuck the guy who had been using the bar in the back of his car and told me to keep an eye on him while he looked after the other guy.

I was about ten and a half stone soaking wet (147 pounds.) I did my best to try and look tough.

Not sure if it worked or not? But I was ever so happy when the police came and took my little pal away. Thankful that my pants were still dry !!

Those were good times!!

Eamonn

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Thanks for coming around.

 

A few questions. I know in the UK scouting is integrated with boys and girls mixed. How well does that go? Are there times you have separate events or groups for each gender?

 

On campouts do they share tents? 

 

Also could you post some pictures or provide some pictures of your uniforms and what your campouts look like?

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Thanks for coming around.

 

A few questions. I know in the UK scouting is integrated with boys and girls mixed. How well does that go? Are there times you have separate events or groups for each gender?

 

On campouts do they share tents? 

 

Also could you post some pictures or provide some pictures of your uniforms and what your campouts look like?

@@SpEdScouter, the Brits have spoken for themselves in various threads on the matter. Hopefully they won't mind repeating themselves.

 

But for pictures and really good videos, this is one of my favorite links: http://scouts.org.uk/home/

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Thanks for coming around.

 

A few questions. I know in the UK scouting is integrated with boys and girls mixed. How well does that go? Are there times you have separate events or groups for each gender?

 

On campouts do they share tents? 

 

Also could you post some pictures or provide some pictures of your uniforms and what your campouts look like?

 

I hope Ian doesn't mind me jumping in with a few comments here!

 

Mixed scouting works quite well. Girls are still the minority, about 20% nation wide. The groups that were coed before it became compulsory in 2007 (prior to that it was a local option) tend to have a higher proportion of girls. Over all the girls that go for scouts instead of Girl Guides tend to be that bit more "robust", I wouldn't go as far as the term "tom boy" but certainly they come to us for a reason.

 

It would be rare in the extreme to have separate events for boys and girls. Troops and patrols are typically mixed. There is the option to separate the sexes, some (but by no means all) groups that are sponsored by mosques run separate boy and girl troops, but it is certainly the exception.

 

Theoretically boys and girls are allowed to tent together. In practice at scout and explorer level though it is rare. Mostly because the kids don't want to do it! The only time I've had mixed accommodation was on an over night ferry to Holland, cabins had 4 bunks and we had 6 boys and 2 girls on the trip. You see it a bit more often for cubs and beavers. We try and maintain a collection of 2, 3 and 4 man tents so that mixed patrols can take a selection to suit their gender mix.

 

On camps its worth bearing in mind that we simply don't have the space you have! The idea of patrols camping 100m apart is, in most circumstances, utterly impossible.

 

As pointed out by @@00Eagle feel free to browse our gallery here. Note that some larger albums might take a few moments to load! You can also find some official photos from National HQ here. Although some are a little posed and show a rather "on brand" image!

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Thanks for the pictures. Your right really if it wasnt for their being girls, many of the pictures would look just like an American Boy Scout troop.

 

Ok, more questions:

 

Do you do merit badges?

What fundraisers do you do to raise money to help pay for activities?

Does your troop have a "sponsor" like a church or community center where you hold your meetings, store your equipment, and in some ways set some rules and guidelines for your troop?

How much does a scout typically pay per year to be a member? How much do they pay for activities?

Is your troop "scout lead" meaning the scouts do many of the activities (planning, organizing, policing themselves) pretty much themselves and the adults serve mostly in an advisory role? Ex. In our troops the scouts will often request all adults leave the meeting room and when we come back they say "we have decided to do ..." and we just often just say "okay".

Do you have a version of the scout oath and law? If so how often do you recite them?

In US troops every morning and evening they do a "flag ceremony" where they raise and lower the US flag (and sometimes the state flags). Do you raise and lower the English flag or other flags every morning and evening to some ceremony at your campouts?

Do you have a version of "high adventure" campouts? Those are particular trips and venues requiring advanced skills or in extreme conditions like deserts, swamps, mountains, or winter conditions.

Would you take your scouts on a multi-day backpacking trip where they would say have to bring all gear and food for a 3-5 day trek?

 

Thanks.

Edited by SpEdScouter

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Thanks for the pictures. Your right really if it wasnt for their being girls, many of the pictures would look just like an American Boy Scout troop.

 

Ok, more questions:

 

Do you do merit badges?

What fundraisers do you do to raise money to help pay for activities?

Does your troop have a "sponsor" like a church or community center where you hold your meetings, store your equipment, and in some ways set some rules and guidelines for your troop?

How much does a scout typically pay per year to be a member? How much do they pay for activities?

Is your troop "scout lead" meaning the scouts do many of the activities (planning, organizing, policing themselves) pretty much themselves and the adults serve mostly in an advisory role? Ex. In our troops the scouts will often request all adults leave the meeting room and when we come back they say "we have decided to do ..." and we just often just say "okay".

Do you have a version of the scout oath and law? If so how often do you recite them?

In US troops every morning and evening they do a "flag ceremony" where they raise and lower the US flag (and sometimes the state flags). Do you raise and lower the English flag or other flags every morning and evening to some ceremony at your campouts?

Do you have a version of "high adventure" campouts? Those are particular trips and venues requiring advanced skills or in extreme conditions like deserts, swamps, mountains, or winter conditions.

Would you take your scouts on a multi-day backpacking trip where they would say have to bring all gear and food for a 3-5 day trek?

 

Thanks.

 

Wow! A lot of questions, I'll do my best to field some of them....

 

What you call merit badges we call actvity badges. To be honest they are quite variable in terms of the standards required and the realistic possibility of doing them. Parascending isn't something you get to do very often if at all!  You can find those for the scout (10-14) section here. Something we have which I don't think you do is staged badges which can be taken in any age range from beavers (6-8) through to Network (18-25). You can find them here, There is a lot fo compeition to get the most nights away in your arm!

 

Fund raisers are variable from cake sales to car washing but the most common and most effective is bag packing at supermarkets (grocery stores).

 

My group doesn't have a sponsor at all and that is quite common. We own our own building although we lease the land it is on. It's also quite common to be sponsored by a church or other place of worship and meet in their premises. The input they have to the running of the group is minimal though and most importantly they cannot dictate membership requirements. There are a very small number of "closed" groups which are normally attached to private schools which are allowed to only take members from that school. They are very rare and most districts don't have any.

 

My group the scouts pay £90 per year and that is quite standard. It varies from group to group, some lower some higher but you won't see too much variability.

 

We are as scout lead as it is possible to be with PLs who are 13 or 14! At 14 they move to explorers (14-18)We certainly have a PLs council where they have their say on what should and should not be on the programme. Their age compared to your PLs does mean they need a lot more help and guidance. Ef I get the Pls to chose APLs but I do reserve the right to over rule them, although in practice it is rare that I do so. They often have no conept of how much things will cost or how long it will take to organise so they do need guiding. Explorers tends to be more scout lead.

 

Yes we have a Promise and Law! There's multiple versions of the promise depending on an individuals beliefs and nationalities which can all be found here the Law can be found here.  For most groups it would be recited at the investiture of a new member or renewed at st George's Day Parade.

 

Flag up and flag down is farely standard (using the UK flag,very rare to do it with the English/Scottish/Welsh or Irish flags), although it is not done by everyone. We certainly do it at the start and end of each night and each morning and evening on camp.

 

High adventure - that is typically done at county level (I think what you would call Council level?) and what there is varies massively across the country. My county does more or less none where as neighbouring counties run lots of it. Thankfully we are friendly with our neighbours in Hertfordshire who run regular trips to the Scottish Highlands that we get to send kids on. Other groups are less lucky and it can be a struggle to make it happen, particularly in southern England. Counties in more mountainous areas have more going for them. Other counties have other specialisms. Hampshire run 4 wheel drive trips, Essex do a lot of off shore sailing. So quite variable.

 

Multiday back packing is something we have done but you tend to see a lot more of it at Explorer level where age and experience allows it more easily.

 

Hope that helps!

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Sorry for the slow replies. Been on scout camp.

 

Hi and Welcome.

Some of my fondest scouting memories are from being a Service Team Member at Walton Firs, back when it was a National Camp Site.

 

 

It's now an independent campsite for youth groups generally rather than scouting specifically. It got sold off by HQ and in order to get enough grant money to buy it they had to open it up a bit. I go to a few county meetings there. Road noise is probably worse than when you were last there.

 

Thanks for coming around.

 

A few questions. I know in the UK scouting is integrated with boys and girls mixed. How well does that go? Are there times you have separate events or groups for each gender?

 

On campouts do they share tents? 

 

Also could you post some pictures or provide some pictures of your uniforms and what your campouts look like?

 

We, and when I say we, I mean, my explorers, rather than speaking for the UK or anything. We never have separate events for boys and girls.

 

How does having it mixed go? Interesting. Actually, I'd say 99% of the time they're just rubbing along as friends, i.e. they're all just explorer scouts, and gender doesn't really come into it. Occasionally some of the boys show off to impress, usually they get cut down to size by a put down from one of the girls, or another boy. We have had the odd relationship develop, not usually on camp, and that makes future camps when they both go more interesting, but we have just set out some ground rules, and it usually passes by pretty smoothly. I'm generally dealing with sensible intelligent kids so if I treat them sensibly and they seem to respond. And yes, rarely, but sometimes, you do have to lay down the law about exactly what is and what isn't acceptable behaviour. Your mind is possibly filling in more blanks than their are to be filled here. It's tricky to explain. I treat mine like adults, and 99% of adults don't jump into bed and start making babies as soon as look at each other either.

 

Thanks for the pictures. Your right really if it wasnt for their being girls, many of the pictures would look just like an American Boy Scout troop.

 

Ok, more questions:

 

Do you do merit badges?

What fundraisers do you do to raise money to help pay for activities?

Does your troop have a "sponsor" like a church or community center where you hold your meetings, store your equipment, and in some ways set some rules and guidelines for your troop?

How much does a scout typically pay per year to be a member? How much do they pay for activities?

Is your troop "scout lead" meaning the scouts do many of the activities (planning, organizing, policing themselves) pretty much themselves and the adults serve mostly in an advisory role? Ex. In our troops the scouts will often request all adults leave the meeting room and when we come back they say "we have decided to do ..." and we just often just say "okay".

Do you have a version of the scout oath and law? If so how often do you recite them?

In US troops every morning and evening they do a "flag ceremony" where they raise and lower the US flag (and sometimes the state flags). Do you raise and lower the English flag or other flags every morning and evening to some ceremony at your campouts?

Do you have a version of "high adventure" campouts? Those are particular trips and venues requiring advanced skills or in extreme conditions like deserts, swamps, mountains, or winter conditions.

Would you take your scouts on a multi-day backpacking trip where they would say have to bring all gear and food for a 3-5 day trek?

 

Thanks.

 

Personally, getting the explorers planning evenings is where I struggle. They don't seem to remember much specifics, so seem to suggest the same things over and over that they've only just done, and then complain that we're doing the same things. Or they enjoyed canoeing last term, so they want to do it again, only it's dark in the winter evenings (and even I'm not crazy enough to go canoeing in the dark). So often it's the leaders organising stuff, and the explorers being part of it. I could do better, and some do do better.

 

Cost? My unit is £105 (about $150 I think) all camps are on top of that, with weekend camps varying from $30 to $80, and summer camp this year was $375.

 

Our summer camp this year was not "high adventure", that landscape is a fair distance from where we live. It went as follows:

 

Saturday, travel by train, train, ferry, bus, bus, short walk, arrive on site and set up

Sunday, scout skills, swimming in a saltwater creek, canoeing

Monday, sailing

Tuesday, seaside and lifeboat (coastguard) station visit

Wednesday, fossil hunt, swimming in the creek

Thursday, day hike

Friday, games, packing, swim/mud fight

Saturday, travel home.

 

We have got a weekend mountain walking in the autumn, we've also got another weekend where there's discos and a theme park visit (yes yes, Baden Powell spinning in his grave I know), and possibly another staying in a recreated iron age hut, all mud walls wooden beams and thatched roof.

 

A lot of my kids have done multi day hikes with their schools, and seem to have been put off a bit, so if we do do them, they tend to be shorter more lightweight one. Other units may vary.

 

Not sure if that answers all your questions, but there you go.

 

Ian

Edited by ianwilkins
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