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Chief Commissioner's Blog | A big night out, Kent style!

Having gone straight from a long haul flight from Shanghai into a team meeting on Friday evening, which continued the following morning, I arrived in Kent wondering why I had committed myself to this. Thankfully, the ‘why’ soon became clear…

Catching up and looking ahead

With more or less a full house of members from my team and a now fully-completed senior staff team, it was a great to catch up with a wide variety of current initiatives and strategies.  These included the exciting plans for the Network reboot and the launch of A Million Hands programmes as well as progress reports on our key strategies.

We also considered a detailed review of this year’s census where, as I have mentioned previously, we have been delighted to report a 10th consecutive year of growth in youth membership, although this obviously hides various underlying trends that we need to better understand. These include a decline in Cub numbers and the number of boys involved.

I needn’t have worried

I made it to Maidstone, Kent in time to spend the evening visiting a wide variety of camps organised as part of the County’s Big Night Out 15 initiative, which is similar to the millennium camps (for those of you with long memories it was thankfully a much drier and sunnier weekend!) The County organised a weekend where every Group, Unit and District etc were encouraged to camp out in a way that was co-ordinated across the county and saw nearly half of the County’s 20,000 members participate.

We visited camps in a wide variety of locations including the cells of a police station and Chatham’s Historic Dockyard as well as visiting Districts who had not camped together for many years. We joined 180 Explorer Scouts participating as part of their County’s Duke of Edinburgh Award where they were undertaking the Bronze practice hikes. This initiative has seen continued growth in the number of young people achieving top Scout awards as well as their DofE awards. Not least of which includes a doubling of the number of Queen’s Scouts over the past year.

A great, simple idea

It struck me that this was an excellent way for the County, through media and other practical support, to encourage greater residential and outdoor opportunities for young people in a very effective manner.

The idea of a co-ordinated initiative with support material for local action provides a great template for other initiatives, not least of which is Scout Community Week, with our wider community impact work being just another example.

All in all my rather hectic 48 hours provided a great re-introduction to Scouting after an equally enjoyable, and much more relaxing, vacation with the family!




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