Scouting is the world’s largest voluntary organisation with an estimated worldwide membership of approximately 28 million people. In the UK alone, there are half a million people involved in the Scout movement. The movement was founded in 1907, by Robert Baden Powell (later Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell), a highly decorated Boer War hero. Using techniques and training learned through his experiences in South Africa and the army, he took 20 boys on a camp to Brownsea Island, Dorset. The first ever Scout camp. Scouting has changed a lot since that first camp, but its fundamental principles remain the same. It seeks to provide young people with opportunities to participate in adventurous outdoor activities, learn team-building skills and develop new friendships.
1st St Helens Scout Group has existed for nearly 50 years and an estimated 500 people have pulled on the blue and gold necker of the group in that time. Formerly based at the old church hall in West Auckland (now A Spar), the group now operates out of St Helens Parish Centre. The group is split into three components: Beavers, aged 6 to 8; Cubs, aged 8 to 10, and Scouts, aged 10 to 14.
After the age of 14, Scouts can choose to attend Explorer Scouts at Bishop Auckland, and/or remain at St Helens to help out as young leaders. Beavers activities are generally fun-based, and they take part in some outings during the year. Their programme consists of games and activity sessions helping the members to join and share with others. Cubs have a progressive training system involving camp, adventure activities and working towards various achievements. Scouts have a similar training system, with more emphasis on becoming independent and concentrating on adventure and self-reliance. At 1st St Helens, activities have included camping, climbing, kayaking, raft-building and many others. All of these activities are intended to foster a sense of adventure and independence amongst the boys and girls involved. A lot of importance is placed upon acting as a team, yet at the same time encouraging independent thought. It is hoped these attributes will serve the Scouts in later life. Indeed, many of the Scout qualifications, which are broadly equivalent to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, are recognised by many employers and colleges/universities.