So recently my Scouting life has seen a few changes.  For the last eight months or so I’ve been supporting the opening of a new Scout Group, 1st Stockbridge.  Last Friday night saw the first 40 or so young people make the Promise and be invested.  Certainly one of the proudest moments of my Scouting career.

On top of that, the County Commissioner has been generous – or foolish - enough to appoint me Assistant County Commissioner (Development) for Merseyside.  Yes, I’m still pinching myself to see if it’s actually true and no, it isn’t April 1st just yet!

It’s been a privilege and an honour to lead Billinge Cubs for almost six years, and to run the Young Leaders Scheme in St Helens as well, but for me the challenge of continuing to grow Scouting on Merseyside is one that I can’t wait to get my teeth into.  I’m really very excited.

If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that growing Scouting is something that I am really passionate about.  I believe that for all of us, from Occasional Helpers, right through Section Leaders and on to us managers and supporters we should have at least one, if not both, eyes on growth in everything that we do.

Consistently fun, challenging and adventurous programmes will keep young people who are already members involved, active and engaged in what Scouting has to offer.  Alongside that, careful promotion and development work – as well as taking advantage of quick-wins when they present themselves – will mean that we can offer Scouting to even more young people and adults.

It’s going to be hard work.  Not all of the projects that we start will succeed, and I’m sure that some will be outright failures.  But you know what?  That’s how it’s supposed to be.  Life is all about risk, and if you don’t take risks and chances, you can never hope to achieve anything at all.

Here’s hoping for many more nights like last Friday!

Some rights reserved by Joe Martin Photography - http://www.flickr.com/photos/joekmartin/12371072843/

Working across generations

At last I have managed to watch John May’s keynote speech at the World Scout Education Congress last November. It’s over an hour long, but it really is worth a watch.

If you haven’t come across John’s work before then suffice it to say that I don’t think there are any roles in Scouting that he has not held. You can read John’s biography on his blog. If you want to know about developing and growing Scouting into the 21st Century, then in my opinion you’d be hard pushed to find anyone better to listen to.

A key message from John’s talk is that we are all different; that there is a huge age range in Scouting, featuring people from many generations, each of which has it’s own view of the world and attitude to life that stems from their childhood experiences. Making progress in Scouting (in the UK, for example, towards our Vision 2018) is all about managing change, whilst working with a range of people from across the generations – a challenging task!

One thing that struck a chord with me hearing John talk about this generational sociology is the importance of remembering it when we work with other volunteers in Scouting, as well as when we are working with young people themselves. My immediate colleagues in Scouting range from 15 year-old Young Leaders to 60+ (or even 70+ or 80+) committee members. Certainly in future I’ll be spending more time thinking about how I can work with these people to get the best out of them – and help them get the best out of me! – rather than just seeing them as people doing a particular role, which is an all too easy trap to fall into.

Right at the end of John’s talk itself he uses a quote from Pablo Casals, a Spanish Cellist. You can read the quote in full on John’s blog, but to take just a few lines that I found the most inspirational:

“You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.
You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel.
And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?
You must cherish one another
We must all work-
To make this world worthy of its children.”

Note: The featured photo at the top of this blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License from Joe Martin Photography – http://www.flickr.com/photos/joekmartin/12371072843/

Fresh starts

If you follow me on twitter (@matsims) by now you can’t have failed to notice that I am about to start a new job working at Cloughwood School in Cheshire.

Cloughwood is a school that caters for boys with significant emotional, behavioural and social difficulties.  For the boys who will be joining us on Monday morning it will be for them, as well as for me, a fresh start.  And one that I am really looking forward to.

This week will also be a fresh start for my Cub pack with a big focus – for the leaders at least – on behaviour management.  Can you spot the parallels?  We’ve adopted a new rewards system, using a display of coloured cards which link to points that the Cubs can earn as rewards for positive behaviour.  It’s not complicated and it’s a system that’s been in use in schools and other organisations around the world for many years.

If you’re interested you can download our new Behaviour & Rewards Policy and supporting information from the Scout Group website.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be blogging quite a bit about behaviour management, looking at how we as adults can deal with challenging behaviour when it happens or, even better, try to stop if happening in the first place.  Realistically most of it will relate to Scouting, there are necessarily good reasons for me not to talk too much about my work, but hopefully it will be interesting nonetheless.

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