Scouts move into the modern era

NICHOLAS BOYACK
Last updated 13:51 29/01/2013
Scouts
FAIRFAX NZ
Scouts honour: The Belmont Scout group heading to Australia, Craig Fraser, Callum Arnot, Carl Longstaff, Liam Stewart, Ethan Courtney, Marcus Manning, Braden Longstaff, Connor Fraser.

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Scouting has received mixed publicity over the years, but the organisation is keen to get the message across that it has moved with the times.

National secretary Murray Charlesworth said it had modernised the way it operated, introduced changes to make leaders and Scouts safer and, most importantly, put the emphasis on outdoor activities.

He said it was clear many youngsters wanted to enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as camping and tramping.

Scouting has revamped itself around what Mr Charlesworth called "adventure plus" and he said the strategy had worked well.

"They tell us they want to get out and get into the bush. That is what kids want and that is what we provide."

There are about 18,000 Scouts nationwide and after a long period of decline, there has been steady growth over five years.

Scout numbers in the Wellington region are: Lower Hutt 705; Wellington 879; Upper Hutt 377, and Kapiti 618.

Scouts is no longer a male-only organisation.

That changed in 1988 and today 20 per cent of members are girls.

Mr Charlesworth said that for girls, it was definitely the opportunity to do outdoor activities that was the appeal.

As evidence of how much the organisation had changed, he pointed to the recent appointment of Niamh Lawless as chief executive.

She is the first woman to hold the job.

Scouting is also no longer organised in age groups.

It is now based on school years, with Keas being year 1 to 3, Cubs years 3 to 6 and Scouts years 6 to 10.

That means youngsters can join with their mates and go though as a group.

If Scouts is to continue growing, it will need leaders. Some people are reluctant to put their names forward because of the bad publicity Scouts has had.

These days all leaders are subject to a police check and Scouting New Zealand provides programmes to make things easier for them.

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- The Wellingtonian

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