Fires still burning bright for scouts

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MORE than a century after the movement was founded, the campfires are burning brighter than ever for Scout groups across Mansfield and Ashfield.

Now in its 103rd year, the popularity of Nottinghamshire Scouts has soared to an all-time high with more than 700 new members joining in the last 12 months.

It is the highest number of Scout members in Nottinghamshire this century with 8,659 young leaders now on the books following the publication of The Scout Association’s annual census.

Matt Rooney, head of the Nottinghamshire Scouts, said it is fantastic to see scouting thriving across the county and believes the movement will continue to grow.

“With over 700 people choosing to join scouting in the last 12 months we really are going from strength to strength and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve such an amazing increase without our amazing volunteers,” he said.

“We know scouting is popular, as long as adult volunteers keep coming forwards then we will continue to grow, our waiting lists (currently at 379 young people) will get smaller and more people will be able to enjoy all that Scouting has to offer.”

Matt says scouting provides an enormous range of adventures and rewards for young people and Nottinghamshire Scouts have given out more than 30,000 activity badges in the last 12 months.

“The Notts Scouts have also provided many new activities and hosted a massive activity day for over 1,800 members last year that received national attention when chief scout and adventurer Bear Grylls dropped in by helicopter,” added Matt.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “It is so great to see Scout numbers rising in Nottinghamshire and a big reason for this is the number of teenagers joining the adventure.

“More and more young people are realising that scouting offers them so much - whether it’s the opportunity to go on a big international adventure or the chance to learn and hone vital life skills.

“I am also excited to see so many young people in Nottinghamshire have committed their time to give back as young leaders.

“Leadership in scouting offers so many personal rewards and practical benefits, and so many employers nowadays recognise these as being both empowering and work and life-enhancing.

“There is truly something for everyone in the world of scouting.”

The organisation’s Young Leaders’ Scheme is also proving popular with 180 Explorer Scouts signing up to the programme, which is aimed at developing leadership skills to help younger people such as Beaver and Cub Scout packs.

Hannah Nolan (15), a Mansfield explorer Scout and young Leader, said: “I love being in the scouts, it’s really cool and I even met Bear Grylls last year.

“We do loads of activities and getting involved in Scouting is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

“I’m a young leader with three groups and I absolutely love it. I help to plan the activities, run games and lead sessions.”

Nottinghamshire Scouts’ popularity was given a boost over the Bank Holiday weekend when they hosted their ‘Big Weekend’ event at Southwell Racecourse.

The event was a massive success and the largest of its kind hosted by the charity with 3,200 scouts taking part in activities and workshops.