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Chief Commissioner's Blog | Pleasantly surprised

As well as spending three days at Gilwell Park this week discussing Scout Activity Centres, a visit to Greater London Middlesex West and Romford brought a pleasant surprise for Wayne…


A day spent interviewing candidates for our post of Director of Communications recently provided an opportunity to catch up with Moray MacDonald, Chairman of the Scottish Board and public relations professional who joined us on the interview panel.

Other meetings during the three days I spent at Gilwell included joining the staff Executive Leadership Team meeting, plus a meeting with recruitment consultants and an opportunity for Matt, Hannah and myself to meet with potential trustees who are being considered for our two Trustee vacancies in September.

Scout Activity Centres

On Saturday, we hosted a workshop at Baden-Powell House with those involved in the management of several Scout Activity Centres across the UK. We looked at the external market, shared good practice and identified opportunities for the development of a network or partnership building on the success of our centres.

It was interesting to reflect how our centres have evolved over the past 10 years since we began to develop our strategy for them. At that time, our centres collectively were losing £700,000 per year and it is not by accident that they now contribute more than one million pounds to the net income of The Scout Association.  This money is wholly retained by us and has been one of the reasons we have been able to avoid increasing the membership fee in successive years, while at the same time investing in our centres and the opportunities they particularly provide for young people.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could use some of the lessons learnt as well as those areas of good practice that local centres excel in for the benefit of all?

Adult training

I have shared before some thoughts concerning the need for us to improve the way we train and support volunteers and so I was delighted to accept an invitation to join the Adult Training Team from Greater London Middlesex West for their annual residential weekend. It was an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session as well as to join them for the evening discussing a wide variety of topics and ideas around adult training and safeguarding in particular. 

Listening and explaining

On Sunday I joined the leaders from Romford District to kick off their District Development Day with a question and answer session. It was great to have an opportunity, particularly against the backdrop of Compass, to explain what lies behind the 2018 strategy. Some of the questions centred on how a leader felt that Scouting ‘was too business like’ and how headquarters’ actions seemed at odds with local Scouting.  Having taken some time to unpick these questions with participants and to share the reasons for some of the examples given, it was interesting to hear one leader’s remark at the end about how she was reassured to see that headquarters might actually know what it is doing!




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