Did you know that the Scout movement still exists and, surprisingly, is stronger than ever? I certainly didn’t. Radio 5 Live were so kind as to remind me of this fact earlier this week broadcasting from this years World Scouts Jamboree (40,000 scouts from around the world camping in Chelmsford), in what they claimed to be the biggest year yet. The festivities this week marked 100 years of the movement and I read in the Metro that a whopping 28m Scouts celebrated the event world wide.
I can claim, as a lad, to have attended the odd cub/scouts meeting and was certainly involved for a few years – years before I discovered games consoles, music and other distractions. At the time I thought it was great but remember getting bored with it very quickly, the uniform seemed ridiculous and the whole thing just felt really dated and that was some19 years ago now.
So I was a little taken back by the coverage around this event, and the scale of the movement today and it got me thinking – how, in Society 2.0 does a movement like the scouts keep thriving? In my head it really shouldn’t be doing so well it should by all rules be a movement in decline. Distractions for children today are more numerous than ever before and certainly when compared to when it the Scouts movement first started 100 years ago, and even (worryingly) back to my time as a Scout…
One of the Scouts mottos seems to give some clues:
Scouting is a movement because it keeps on moving forward.
If it stops moving it becomes an organisation and is no longer scouting!
– Robert Baden-Powell
Evidently they’ve been doing plenty in recent years to keep the Scouts ‘moving forward’ by making themselves relevant to the youth of today. As well as some of the obvious things such as ‘toning’ down and modernising the uniform, they’ve also been partnering with local ‘activities’ businesses such as swimming centres, rock climbing walls, skate parks etc where scouts can attend, have fun and don’t have to wear their toggle and caps.
Probably most notable, they’ve been ‘modernising’ the badge scheme increasingly giving out badges for key skills such as chocolate tasting (sounds hard that one), skateboarding, web design and circus skills.
Do you have the PR scouts badge?
However, after a little bit of digging around, I also discovered that you can now get a scouts badge for PR. Oh dear – I thought PR degrees were bad enough (sorry to anyone I’ve offended who has one – I don’t really mean it honest). Actually in all seriousness I think it’s probably quite a good thing. I hadn’t even heard of the term PR until I went to university it just wasn’t an industry that I had any idea about at all. So anything that helps raise awareness of the industry outside of the work done by Alistair Campbell, or the silver fox Max Clifford, is fine by me. Also it seems, by the amount of coverage the Scouts got this week, that they’ve been putting the skills to good use.
I’m still not 100% convinced that the Scouts movement will be going strong in another 100 years time; certainly not in the UK. On one of the interviews the BBC conducted this week with an inner London youth worker (name of the chap escapes me) they said there was just no way on earth that children/teenagers in his area (South East London) would take it serious. It just isn’t ‘cool’ to be a scout.