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AROUND THE CAMPFIRE: 'You gain so much being a volunteer with scouting'

Welcome to Around the Campfire, our section dedicated to the scouting and girlguiding groups and other uniformed youth organisations. This week's edition takes a look at the benefits of volunteering for the beavers, cubs and scouts.

Fun and friendship are two of the main things you can get out of being a volunteer with the scouting movement.

Joining the organisation has many benefits for adults as well as youngsters, and as the volunteers profiled below show, getting involved can give you new experiences, help you learn new skills, and allow you to give something back to the community.

Scouting is the UK’s biggest mixed youth organisation, offering activities and adventures to young people aged six-25.

Maidenhead is one of the largest scouting districts in Berkshire, with 11 groups and more than 1,100 members – a number which keeps on growing.

Volunteers don’t need to be an adventurer; there are many ways in which you can help including office-type roles.

You can choose how much time you dedicate, and can spread your training around other commitments.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Betony Taylor, local development officer for Berkshire Scouts, at betony.taylor@berkshire

scouts.org.uk or 01189 788292, or visit https://berkshirescouts.org.uk/want_to_volunteer.php

Graham Parkins is district commissioner, which means he supports the 11 groups in and around Maidenhead.

By day he works as technical director for an events ticketing company.

Why scouting?

“I get bored quite easily. I’m always looking for the next thrill or mini adventure. So many things happen in scouting that are unlooked for and unexpected and give me those moments in life when I can say I have felt really alive.

“They say being around children will keep you young. I think it’s true.”

What got you involved?

“My sister. I was an easy ask having been all the way through from beaver scout. I was a happy helper for many years before moving into uniform.”

Best experience?

“The Cubs100 camp earlier this year was incredible. However, I think my favourite time was actually as a scout on the Hamble in a canoe with all our gear stuffed down the back.”

Other hobbies?

“I enjoy motorcycling with Sarah my wife or kite flying on Pinkneys Green, but my other big passion is singing in the choir at All Saints in Marlow.”

Why volunteer?

“Events earlier in life taught me never to waste a single minute. I have been very bad at following my own advice, but you have got to keep trying. Scouts is ticking a big box in living up to that.”

Jackie Haines is assistant beaver scout leader at 1st Maidenhead Sea Scout Group. Her husband Dave is beaver scout leader at 1st Cookham Scout Group.

By day he is a window cleaner and she runs a gardening company.

Why scouting?

“We like being outdoors and trying new things. Dave has gained his archery scout permit and provides archery sessions for scouting.

“I have gained my bell boating permit and become a level one kayaking coach. I love taking the kids out on the water, giving them the opportunity to try something different.”

What got you involved?

“Our children being in scouting.”

Best experience?

“We both love going on family camp – such a great experience. Every camp is always great fun.

“On September 3 I was part of 1st Maidenhead rowing crew taking part in The Great River Race. There were 350 boats rowing 21.6 miles of the Thames through London.

“Scouting gave me the chance to take part in this event – something I had never dreamed I would do – but what a fantastic day.”

Other hobbies?

“Walking, especially with our border collie, kayaking and going to the theatre.”

Why volunteer?

“It is so rewarding. You gain so much yourself by giving. You get so much support from everyone in scouting. You are part of a team. There are so many ways you can get involved in scouting, from running a beaver group to teaching archery or running fundraising events. You choose how much time you give from a few hours weekly or just a few hours yearly. Please get in contact with your local group and have a chat.”

Stuart Cox is cub leader at Bray and Holyport Scouts.

He works as an outdoor instructor running kayaking, climbing and other activities, at Longridge Activity Centre.

Why scouting?

“I like the fact that scouting is what you make of it. Although it sounds cliched, you genuinely do get out of it what you put in.”

What got you involved?

“My parents took me along to a beaver meeting when I was about six. I ended up going through the whole movement.”

Best experience?

“As a scout it was either building a zipline across a lake near Plymouth, or being asked to help at Buckingham Palace for the 50-year Duke of Edinburgh Award celebrations; as a leader, probably the district’s Big Camp at the end of June for the cubs’ centenary year.”

Other hobbies?

“Being an outdoor person I try and go climbing as much as possible. We also do go out kayaking or similar when we’ve finished for the day at work. During the August Bank Holiday I can be spotted at Timbertown where I’ve been Ground Crew for the last 10 or so years.”

Why volunteer?

“We welcome volunteers from all walks of life, be it the outdoor type, the DIY pro, the culinary genius, or the arty one. We don’t just need volunteers as leaders although that is where the greatest need is.”

Richard Moore is assistant scout leader at 9th Maidenhead Scouts.

He works for Cisco.

Why scouting?

“I had some wonderful experiences in scouting and I think it is important to help support this amazing organisation.”

What got you involved?

“I had some amazing experiences with scouting in my youth, joining as a cub and leaving as a Queen’s Scout, the highest award achievable.

“When I started a family of my own and realised how hard it is to find new and exciting activities that challenge youngsters I thought I should give back something.”

Best experience?

“When I was 17, I travelled overseas to compete in Explorer Belt in Sweden. This is a 10-day scouting challenge where participants are dropped off blindfolded and have to navigate and walk 200 miles over 10 days undertaking challenges en-route. That experience showed me what an amazing organisation scouting is. As my sons grow older I hope that they can experience the kindness and generosity that the worldwide scouting family can provide.”

Why volunteer?

“I like that scouting understands people have a life and does not expect everyone to commit to being a leader. Even just helping out with a camp over a weekend once a year makes a massive difference to the things we can do. I would recommend starting with a little and see how you get on.”

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