Had plans not been scuppered by Covid-19, I would have been writing this at WINGS2020 international jamboree in the grounds of Windsor Castle. This camp would have been the largest contingent BSO has ever sent to an international jamboree and it’s deeply sad that 250 of our members have been disappointed (including myself) as the event has been postponed till next year. Of course, this also doesn’t count all the countless section meetings and local camps that have been missed due to the pandemic. It’s been fantastic seeing all the virtual Scouting happen across the Area but if you’re like me, you’ll be missing face to face Scouting and the personal contact with your members. I’m glad that there is now a ray of light on the horizon for us as the storm brought on by COVID-19 begins to pass in many of our countries. It is good to see that several of our Groups have restarted face to face Scouting and can take the first steps along the path to a more normal world while continuing to making the best of all that the virtual world of Scouting can offer. We have been working hard with the Scout Association to ensure BSO’s unique requirements are understood which allowed us to reopen a small number of Groups almost immediately once the restrictions were lifted. My sincerest thanks to Matt Lightfoot, Yasma Osman, Debbie Phillips and Charlene Rupp who formed the BSO reopening team. They have worked tirelessly with Groups which enabled them to create a reopening process for BSO which has now been passed to the DCs. This aligns closely with the Scout Association’s reopening framework which gives us a pathway to restarting Scouting face to face.
Duke of Edinburgh Awards Relaunch
I’m delighted to report that we have made significant progress with the creation of a delivery strategy for the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award. BSO has now fully aligned with the DofE International Award and will soon be relaunching with an information webinar and detailed delivery guidance to support the delivery of the Award across BSO which along with attaining DofE Bronze, Silver and Gold will give our young people more opportunities to achieve the top Scouting awards like the Queen’s Scout Award. We will be sending invites direct to your inbox once we have the webinar details. In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to form part of the Area’s DofE virtual team please email the Area DofE Coordinator – Tam Pearce: firstname.lastname@example.org
The UK’s involvement with Intercamp stretches all the way back to 1966 when the British military Scout Groups in West Germany teamed up with local German Scouts and Dutch Scouts to deliver the first Intercamp which is held yearly on the Whitsun holiday weekend. Since then it has run yearly hosted by the different participating European nations. Since 2010, British Forces in Germany have slowly scaled down from about 20,000 to less than 200 today and BSO has likewise shrunk from 12 Scout Groups in 2012 (when BSO formed) to only one remaining Group. In 2014, BSO leaders in Germany hosted Intercamp at Bad Lippspringe, Germany for the UK’s ‘last ever’ UK-hosted Intercamp in Europe. Since then BSO has continued to advertise Intercamp to our Scout Groups across Northern Europe but has had very little interest in attending. i.e. For 2020, Intercamp was hosted in Kent – we even offered to provide camping equipment to any BSO Scout Group that wanted to attend and had only one Scout Group due to attend before it was cancelled. Unfortunately, Intercamp’s value to BSO has diminished over the years as our German Groups have closed down and BSO’s participation in the event has fallen to a tiny level. We must concentrate our limited volunteer resources on activities that benefit our wider membership and it was with regret that we have now withdrawn our representation and responsibilities to Intercamp. Although this means that the UK is no longer a partner nation in Intercamp, it will not prevent any UK Scout Association members from attending this amazing international camp and we will continue to encourage BSO Groups to attend.
Queen’s Birthday Virtual Camp 12-14 June
It was brilliant to see so many BSO members from 33 BSO Scout Groups in all our Districts taking a full part in our second virtual camp with a series of challenges, games and meetings. The photographs and videos on the camp’s members-only Facebook page were brilliant and some of the highlights of the year with many British-themed works of art. A big thanks to the Bob Thorpe and his Events team and to our leaders for encouraging attendance.
World Scout Jamboree 2023
Only one year ago we were saying goodbye to our USA WSJ contingent and we are now starting preparations for the next WSJ in Korea. We will not know unit allocations until next year but once this is known, I would expect Unit Leader(UL)/Assistant Unit Leader(AUL) selection to commence shortly afterwards. There won’t be anything formal for us to do until the first half of 2021 but it might be good to start warming up your young people who should be aged between 14 and 18 in July 2023 (currently aged between 11-15).
Help wanted with Young Leader Training
We’ve recently appointed Victoria Mitchel as an Area Scouter to lead the Explorer Scout Young Leaders (ESYLs) across the Area. This would normally be a District role but there is not currently enough Young Leaders in each District to warrant a dedicated leader in this role. You might not know that ESYLs are Explorer Scouts who volunteer alongside adult leaders in a Beaver Colony, Cub Pack or Scout Troop. With good training, they could be a very valuable asset to your leadership team, ESYLs play an active role in the section, bringing a range of fresh ideas to the table, and acting as positive role models for the young people they work alongside. Victoria is currently looking to gather a team of trainers together to create and deliver the YL training for the ESYLs by delivering online sessions as well as helping to create some training material and generally be involved with Area Young Leaders. If you’re interested please email email@example.com
The past term has been one of the most extraordinary times we’ve ever seen. I’ve been constantly amazed at the resilience of our young people and it’s been great to see technology being used to deliver great virtual programmes. However, the circumstances surrounding a total change of our normal life has been incredibly stressful for many of us. I would urge you to down your Scouting tools and take the opportunity to concentrate on YOU by taking a break from Scouting and recharging your batteries. It’s likely that we’ll now be running a mix of virtual and face to face Scouting for some time to come and this will need some creative thinking and enthusiasm which will be almost impossible if you’re feeling burnt out.
I know that sometimes we don’t appear to get the gratitude we deserve, but be assured the gratitude is there from your young people, their parents and also from your District, your Area team and myself. In June, I attended the 1st Bougival’s final meeting of the term. It was lovely to award several Chief Scout awards and hear all about the Scout’s adventures over the last few years. At the end of the meeting one of the Scouts read out a heart-felt poem for his section leader. I would like to dedicate this to you in gratitude for all you do…
You are amazing – Thank you…
With diligence and integrity
With care and happily
You’ve arranged meetings for us consistently
You go out of your way
To make our day
A show of kindness, you regularly display
You work with determination
And you’re full of innovation
But most importantly, you never lack patience
I think I speak for everyone
And probably for anyone
As leaders go, our Scout Leaders are the most
Thank You! Thank You!! Thank You!!!
Yours in British Scouting Overseas,