Pears Project Update

The Pears project team working in Gloucestershire currently consists of Ben Powlesland – Project Manager, Coralie Thompson – Senior intern, Becky Thorpe and Chris Padgett interns.

Becky was supporting the Prestbury Scout group in Cheltenham where a new Beaver colony is now open and some support was given to help split the existing Cub Pack in two to allow for future growth. The new sections are between 13 and 16 in number so they have the potential to grow to allow even more young people to be able to access Scouting.

Coralie has been supporting the new Coopers Edge Beaver Colony that is part of 1st Upton St Leonards Scout group in Gloucester. The 8 new Beavers and 7 new adults are all invested with the group now providing support to the new sections.

Currently all of the active projects are in Cheltenham:

Waddon Scout Group – The team are working with the Cornerstone Centre to open Scouting in Waddon. We held a good open evening before February half term attracting about 20 young people and some initial interest in volunteering. We are supporting some taster evenings with a growing number of Beaver and Cub aged children attend each week. A suitable experienced Scout Leader has been identified to run the Troop and a School assembly has helped to swell numbers.

1st Warden Hill – We are supporting the Scout Leadership team to alter the programme now we have increased the number of young people following some successful school assembles and an open night. We think we have found a new volunteer to give a third adult at the Scout Section.

49th Cheltenham – We are helping grow and split the sections. We have given some support to the group and visited the sections. There are school assembles planned over the next few weeks. The Beavers and Cubs will continue to use the same time slot but meet in separate spaces with different leadership teams and programmes.

The next phase of projects now starting are in the Forest of Dean:

Newent – Support to the existing sections in the group to find leaders and young people and new sections.

Aylburton and Lydney – Recruitment of leaders in Beavers, Cubs and Scouts – Recruitment of young people, particularly girls, in Beavers and Cubs

Meet the new International Team

There have been a lot of changes to International Scouting and the Global programme in the last couple of years. As well as programme changes, we now have a new team responsible for supporting International and Global activities in Gloucestershire. Chris Langham, Ben Klinkenburg and Dave L’oste Brown have formed the new team and are looking at ways they can help support your international programme. They have a wealth of experience and enthusiasm and between them have visited a plethora of countries with Scouting.

To help get you are up to speed with recent changes they are hosting a Global Refresh evening on Wednesday 3rd May at Cranham, particularly aimed at Leaders who completed their Wood badge training or Module 19 more than two years ago.

The evening will include presentations on some new Awards, hints and resources of how to include Global activities into Section Programmes (there will be something for everyone, from Beavers to Network), and a chance to meet the new team.

Water Activities 2017

The County water activities team recently launched their new look brand and were looking ahead to what promises to be an exciting year. With more water based permits in the County and new advisers, they are looking at needing more space to dry out wet kit! Activities from kayaking and sailing to the more unusual bell boating and scuba are all available to young people in the County.

The new logo brings together the team under a common brand. A new water activities micro-site has also been launched. It aims to bring you the information you need to take everyone from Beavers to Network and Active Support out on the water.

While at the launch they celebrated the 40th anniversary of “Spade” Gardner teaching scouts water activities in Gloucestershire. This is a fantastic achievement and he’s introduced many thousands of Scouts to activities on the water. They did wonder if he’d started to grow webbed feet!

Are you interested in leading water activities for your section? Contact Shelley Wright for more information.

Strategy & Evolution Update

We’re really excited to let you know that Strategy is now over 50% full. Don’t forget to make sure your Scouts are booked on before the price increase on the 30th April. Last year over 600 Scouts, Explorers and Network members from Gloucestershire attended over the two weekends, fully catered and now on a site even closer to the forest why not come and join the adventure? Book now at

Strategy is a challenge event for Scouts that lets them loose in our 3,000 acre ‘Play Area’. The multi-activity challenge hike has over 30 bases scattered across our woodland site, which our Strategists get points for completing. You’ll have to plan your own route to make best use of the allocated time!

Last year bases included everything from Pioneering to Supermarket-Sweep, Climbing to Caving and even Nail-Painting and Custard Jumping! Who knows what this year will hold but trust us – all your physical stamina, mental prowess and Scouting & Guiding skills will be tested!

Evolution decided to throwaway the challenge event rule book, why have the same challenge every year? So year on year we provide you with a new challenge (and ultimately a new challenge for ourselves too!). So what can you expect from the main event? The main event always tries to challenge your scouting teamwork and skills with either physical bases or more mental challenges. So far we’ve had assault courses, inflatables, air rifles, a cave bus, and even scrabble. So come join the fun and see what is in store for you this year!

County Update – February 2017

It’s been a busy few months across the County with lots of activities and events taking place from the Chief Scout Awards held at Head 4 Heights to the 44th Cotswold Marathon that took place at the start of the month.

It has also been a very busy time for changes with District and County leadership teams, and some other exciting developments across the County. So it would be good to update you about all that has been going on!

County Personnel

  • Liz Hodge stepped down as Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Programme at the end of 2016 – although Liz isn’t running away from the County (as if we would let her!) I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Liz for all her hard work over the years and for the support Liz gave me (and continues to give) since I became Acting County Commissioner (CC) in May 2016.
  • Mick Seamarks stepped down as Assistant County Commissioner (ACC) Beavers at the end of 2016 – again Mick isn’t running away but deserves a big thank you for all his support to the Beaver section and the events he has gotten involved with over the years!
  • Chris Meadows has taken on the role of DCC Scouting Operations – which means he has a responsibility for managing the team that supports Programme across the County. Chris will be building a few teams to support sections, activities, events and such like. Chris can be emailed at
  • Chris Langham and Ben Klinkenberg (Benk) have both taken on the role of ACC International, with Chris leading on the global programme and Benk focussing on trips abroad. Dave L’Oste Brown who has held the post of ACC International for a number of years will gradually handover as the team becomes more comfortable with the administration. They can be reached at
  • Bruce Warden stepped down as District Commissioner (DC) for Gloucester District on the 31 December. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bruce for his hard work in developing Gloucester during the 2 years he was in post. Michelle Vaughan has been appointed as Acting DC, and Barry Smith is leading the Search Team for a new DC.
  • We welcome Tony Dale as the new DC for North Cotswold when he takes over on 1 March 2017, I’d like to thank all those involved in the Search process but particularly Chris Langham for leading the Team. With a new DC coming in I need to say a big thank you to Stephen Perry who has led the North Cotswold District for almost 10 years now, especially given the warm welcome and words of advice he gave me when I took on my Acting role!
  • A number of Districts have recently appointed Youth Commissioners, and they will have been very busy working over the last few weeks as February is #YouShape! Alex Jenkins was appointed as District Youth Commissioner (DYC) for Cotswold Vale in November. Jordan Randall was appointed in January as DYC for Cheltenham and Matt Dann has been appointed as Deputy DYC for Cheltenham.
Around the County
  • Gloucestershire has been selected as a beacon County for the relaunch of the Scouts of the World Award (SOWA); this is an WOSM (World Organisation of Scout Movements) award that is Network age range only. This is a really exciting development for the County and will give our members first access to the really rare award. Chris Meadows and Benk attended the training course a few weekends ago so expect a few announcements soon!
  • Cranham Scout Centre continues to flourish under Andy and Mairead who have recently accepted a permanent contract as the joint centre managers. Tom Harding has taken over as Chairman of the Cranham Management Sub-Committee from Dave Hall.
With all the exciting things happening and enthusiastic people I’ve met over the last few months 2017 will be a fantastic year for Scouting in Gloucestershire!

As always if you have any questions or comments please get in touch with me

Development Opportunity

We have teamed up with the Pears Project and The Scout Association and are excited to announce some paid intern opportunities for the coming year. This is a unique opportunity to gain experience and develop skills whilst leading part of a project team. The project aims to open new Scouting provisions across Gloucestershire Scout County (youth sections for young people aged 6-18yrs). The development interns will be lead by a project manager and will work with local volunteers to provide hands on practical support engaging with schools, the community, partnership organisations and parents of the new youth members. The project aims to enable and deliver the recruitment of adults and young people and to open new sustainable Scout provisions in Gloucestershire initially focusing around Cheltenham.

Interested? Have a look at the advert

Why Am I here?

For many of us the first few weeks of September signify the start of the Scouting year, it’s also typically the time to hold our County AGM and the County Commissioners chance to give a report on what has happened in Gloucestershire in the last 12 months.

It was with much trepidation I stood up in front of 40 or so Scouters to tell them what had gone on in Gloucestershire, but before I launched into my report I asked a question. Pause, for a second, and ponder this…

Why are you here?

…So why am I here? Why am I the Acting County Commissioner? Why do I Scout?

I am here because back in May 2016 I said ‘Yes’ to Hamish Stout, our Regional Commissioner, when asked if I would be prepared to become the Acting County Commissioner.

I am here because, as many of my friends will tell you, I have an inability to say ‘No’. In fact I’ve got a message on my phone from one Scouting friend who I asked advice from when deciding whether I should take on the acting role. They said, I shouldn’t take it on, and then finished their message with ‘You are mad, completely bonkers, I’ll support you all the way’.

But why am I really here?

I’m here because 22 years ago, as a quivering 6 year old, my mother held my hand and walked me through the door of Selsley Scout Hut, in Stroud and Tetbury, for my first night of Beavers and what was to become the start of my Scouting adventure. I remember the night vividly, there was a charity sale going on, I begged my mum for some money and bought a toy tractor in blue and grey. I made new friends, we did Beavery stuff, we went outside and jumped off the bank into a big pile of fresh grass cuttings. (Which in hindsight was a bad idea – 1. My mum was not amused over the grass stains in my lovely grey uniform. 2. Someone had spent a long time making the pile of grass cuttings which we destroyed in minutes!)

I’m here because for 22 years volunteers have given their free time, invested their free time in me. I’ve been helped to grab opportunities that I wouldn’t have had; I’ve met and made life long friends I wouldn’t have known; and I’ve learnt things about myself that I wouldn’t have learnt.

For 22 years volunteers with a passion for Scouting have given their time to me, and it’s a passion I’ve now got. A passion and a belief in Scouting and what it offers to young people. A passion that each, and every volunteer in our movement shares. A passion that means we deliver high quality programmes to young people week in week out. A passion that has helped us grow Scouting in Gloucestershire again.

In the 2016 census our we had 71 new young people join the movement, and I strongly suspect we will see a further increase in the number of Cubs due to the fantastic events and activities that have been going on for Cubs 100. We also had a 175 increase in the number of adults – I’ll let you decide if that is connected in anyway to the removal of membership fees for adults.

It’s fair to say there have been a number of challenges in our County (and indeed nationally) in the last 12 months:

  • Compass – it’s been a difficult journey the last 12 months, and some would say we did loose our way (the puns don’t get any better). But things are much better now and we are moving in the right direction. We need to say a particular big thank you to all the managers, district secretaries and compass champions who’ve had to pick up the pieces, thank you for perservering.
  • DofE – as a County we were not operating at an acceptable standard, and through a committed effort from DofE Leaders, DofE Advisors and leaders we are now working to high standards.
  • Pete Richardsons recent departure from Cranham, where he was centre manager for 5 years. The Executive have commissioned a report into Cranham so they can better understand the centre, how it’s run and all the other pieces involved with it. I would like to thank the Cranham Management Committee for their continued hard work, especially in the last few weeks where they have been busy trying to recruit temporary cover to March next year.
  • Paul Trott’s announcement at the AGM last year that he was looking to step down, and the subsequent search for the next County Commissioner.

But…its been a great year too

  • Tom Harding, our County Trainer Manager, has been successful in recruiting Local Training Managers to cover all Districts.
  • 81 Scouts achieved their Chief Scout Award
  • 80 Young People achieved their Platinum and Diamond Awards, Young Leader Buckles, DofE Bronze and Silver Awards.
  • We’ve had every section offered the opportunity to camp in the last 12 months – 172 Beavers at County Camp, 650 Cubs at the Cubs100 Camp at Rhydd Covert (where your’s truly was conned into being Alex the Lion! I must say I feel emmense pride in the roaring success this camp was, and the team behind it should remember that despite all the heartache, blood, sweat and tears the maine thing was the Cubs all had an amazing time!) As well 89 Explorers at Beast last year.
  • The Strategy and Evolution events were successful yet again with 1,250 Scouts and Guides at Strategy; and 360 Explorers, Network members and Rangers at Evolution.

So what does the future hold?

  • I’m looking at the County structure and how best to rebuild the County team so as to offer better support to Districts, Groups and Leaders.
  • Lauren Greening is forging ahead with reminding people across the County that Youth Shaped Scouting should be at the heart of what we do.
  • There’s going to be another year of fantastic County events – Beast, S&E and a refreshed Chief Scout Awards.
  • We have been chosen to be the second County to get the support offered by the Pears Project, which will help us develop Scouting across Gloucestershire.

I’ll leave you with one final thought that was put to me while dealing with a difficult issue earlier this year, something I think all leaders think when the going is hard. Only one person has a right to Scout – that is a young person aged 6 to 25; for everyone else being able to Scout is a privilege. A privilege I’m proud to say I have.


Intern Opportunities

We have teamed up with the Pears Project and The Scout Association and are excited to announce some paid intern opportunities for the coming year. This is a unique opportunity to gain experience and develop skills whilst leading part of a project team. The project aims to open new Scouting provisions across Gloucestershire Scout County (youth sections for young people aged 6-18yrs). The development interns will be lead by a project manager and will work with local volunteers to provide hands on practical support engaging with schools, the community, partnership organisations and parents of the new youth members. The project aims to enable and deliver the recruitment of adults and young people and to open new sustainable Scout provisions in Gloucestershire initially focusing around Cheltenham.

Interested? Have a look at the adverts below

Advert Interns
Advert Senior Interns

A4 Detailed Development Intern
A4 Detailed Senior Development Intern

Could you be the next County Commissioner?

We are looking for a passionate person to help lead Scouting in Gloucestershire. Heading up a team of enthusiastic volunteers, the County Commissioner shapes Scouting throughout the County and enable more people to experience everyday adventure.

If you can think of anyone who might be suitable for this vacancy, or want to put yourself forward for the role hen please fill in the application form.

Nomination form – Gloucestershire CC 2015
Gloucestershire CC Letter advising search group
CC Vacancy Pack Gloucestershire

County Commissioner’s District AGM Speech 2015

How things change. May’s General Election seems ages ago now. Yet when I started doing the round of District AGMs it was all so topical. But I would like to start by talking about another election – the US Presidential election of 2008 – when Barak Obama first ran for President and as part of his campaign he used a poster which was no more than his picture and the single word “Change”.

And that was very clever – most people can think of something they would like to change – few people are entirely happy with the status quo – all want to change something. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “There is nothing permanent except change”. The trick of course is getting enough people to agree on changing the same thing in same way at the same time. And it’s the same in Scouting. The Scout Movement has changed so much in recent years. And this year we have been required to make even more changes.

Scouting is not naturally pro-change – it has traditionally tended to attract and retain people who like structures and hierarchies – who are comfortable wearing a uniform – willing to repeat their Promise in public, often several times a year. This provides certainty and continuity, clear values, and as a result Scouting is trusted and valued by the public at large – so why change?

Because, as another American President, John F. Kennedy, said

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”

Everything changes. The question is whether that change is positive or negative. While physics says you cannot have perpetual motion – and everything must come to rest as some point – even a stationary object will eventually rust or rot or decay if left to its own devices. Some things might mature with age for a while but not even the best cheese or wine can mature for ever. So – change is natural – but natural change can also be negative. You kick a ball & it will eventually stop moving and come to rest. You paint a beautiful picture but it will ultimately fade or tarnish. So to counter those negative changes we have to do something about them by making positive ones.

Imagine you have just moved into your ideal home. Either you can preserve it just as the architect intended it to be on the day it was first built, to maintain it for all time as a monument to the people who designed and built it or you can improve it – redecorating – extending – landscaping – modernising – to meet your current and future needs, building on the investments that others have made by investing your own capital in it for yourselves and those who come after you. Which would you do?

Going back to Barak Obama, in the course of his campaign he also said

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

And it’s the same in Scouting. Society is changing, the population is ageing and growing. As it grows it is becoming more risk averse, it is more diverse in all sorts of ways, education is, on average, improving, people are far less deferential and less inhibited than they were. If your house is going to continue to serve you and your family it will need to be put to different uses, with new rooms, doors and windows in different places, the installation of new technology, and adaptations to suit your age and your health.

And so it is with Scouting. If our Movement is going to remain relevant, useful, valued & satisfying, it will have to adapt to the needs not just of its current members but of its future ones too. That is why we are currently seeing so many changes in Scouting.

We have a new Programme for young people – new badges – new requirements – and I hope you are all becoming familiar with it and are deciding how you will offer your young people the challenges and opportunities afforded by it. To support that programme there will also be changes to the adult training scheme as we help one another appreciate the new programme and the ideas behind it.

There are changes to the Scout Network as it becomes a District rather than a County provision – all members aged 18-25 will automatically be enrolled in Network – to allow and encourage them to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities as they transition from being young members to adult leaders.

Next year the annual Membership Fee will no longer payable by over 18s. This means that the Subs charged to young people will increase slightly but it now means there is no longer a financial disincentive for us to recruit more adults as leaders, commissioners, section assistants or Network or Active Support members. Also next year Executive Committee Members (our Trustees) will finally be recognised as full members of the Association – resolving an issue that has been fudged for many years.

On the subject of Executive Committees, we will continue to work at enabling more young people to be involved in our decision making structures, either within their own sections or at Group, District and County level as we strive to make Scouting more youth shaped with the establishment of District and County Youth Councils and the appointment of Youth Commissioners.

And on top of that we this year have the Cub Scout Year of Adventure – a special year long programme of activities for the Cub Section as they prepare for next year, 2016, and the celebration of the centenary of Cub Scouting.

So, these are not changes we have chosen to make locally. The Movement is changing and we need to change to keep up, in order to better serve the communities of which we are part. In fact, we are already changing in many ways as we strive to achieve our strategic objectives of Growth, Inclusivity, Becoming Youth Shaped and Increasing our Community Impact through the implementation of our County Development Plan.

And we have certainly seen some of the effects of that change in recent weeks and months here in Gloucestershire as sections have closed and then re-opened to meet changing needs and requirements, some leaders have come, some have moved and some have left. Change is often difficult, risky and not always successful. Change is sometimes scary and sometimes painful. It is never easy, but it is absolutely necessary.

Thank you very much indeed for all you have done over the last year, for all the changes you have made and all the changes you have tried to make which maybe didn’t work so well. Thank you for trying. And thank you for sticking with it and not giving up. Please keep trying to change, adapting to the changing needs of our members and the society in which we operate. Thanks for everything and I look forward to seeing and hearing more of your achievements over the coming year.

We are periodically reminded that Baden-Powell once remarked that he had founded a movement not an organisation”. So perhaps, the better champion for change is not Mr Obama, but B-P himself.

Thank you.

Paul D. Trott

County Commissioner