Once upon a time this started out as a blog about being a cub leader, so I just thought I'd share something with you which may seem a bit rambling but bare with me.......
I'm an occasional visitor to e.scouts, it's a discussion forum for scout leaders to exchange ideas and can be quite useful. Over the last few days this discussion has developed For info I am the poster cambridgeakela.
In summary a Canadian Rover Scout came on asking for ideas for pranks to pull on camp and some individuals went off on one at him and told him how selfish he was, as you can see I defended him. Two points to make here, which lead into each other.
First, forget the uniform and the promise and the history, first and foremost scouting is meant to be fun. Those involved should come back with a smile on their face. They may be cold, muddy, tired etc but they should also have had a brilliant time. Being a leader can be dam hard work, it really can but I keep going because of how much fun it is, it's difficult to put into words just what a buzz it can be. And that is why I keep going. And part of the fun is the practical jokes, I've pulled them and been the victim. I ran one leader's bra up the flag pole once, I've tee peed tents (for the uninitiated that means wrapping them in loo role over night), I've stolen shoes left outside tents. Equally I've returned to my tent to find it containing nothing but a giant inflatable palm tree (I'm not kidding!) and been cable tied inside it as well. All very childish at times but utterly hilarious when you are in a group of like minded people.
Which leads me onto point 2. For scouting to be fun, you need fun leaders. They have to have a sense of humour. And this isn't about being young (I became "Akela" at the age of 24, terrifyingly young as this species goes!), it's about being young at heart. Take a look at the responses on that thread, just look at them. Just how much of a sense of humour bye pass have some of these people had?
If people like that are the voice of scouting then it's no surprise that in places we cant recruit and retain leaders. My group has plenty of leaders, I like to think that's because we have brilliant time together, we look after each other as all friends do and we also tease each other mercilessly when its appropriate. We do it to the kids as well! I've lost track of the number of kids I've sent looking for a long wait or stripey paint etc. Unfortunately this attitude to jokes etc reflects a general attitude amongst certain leaders which I think is best described as being officious little gits. The best example is that I have a Girl Guides promise badge on my uniform. Officially I shouldn't but generally no one minds, it is simply a symbol of friendship between two organisations closely linked. It was given to me as a thank you after I turned out to help look for a missing 13 year old girl at 2am who had vanished on camp (found safe and well by the way). Some jumped up little berk of a commissioner tried to get me to take it off. A minor point but one that pissed me right off.
Thankfully scouting both in the UK and across the world is thriving, numbers are heading out of control just about everywhere but we could be doing better if we had the number of leaders, but who wants to be a leader with some of these miserable fuckers as your friends and colleagues?