Why volunteering matters
You may not know that I have been an active member of the Scouting movement in Exeter for around twenty years.
Over this time I have held a number of roles, beginning as a pack helper with the 6th Exeter (St Thomas) Cub Pack, and soon then achieving my Warrant and becoming an Assistant Cub Leader (ACSL).
The training that we receive in Scouting has translated into my working life. There is an excellent framework of initial training, followed up by CPD. This includes not only traditional Scouting skills, risk assessments and First Aid, but also many softer skills which have been useful throughout my career. For example, holding meetings with parents in a group situation and 1:1 was useful in growing my confidence in addressing group. Calling to attention a large group of delegates is nothing when you have had to manage a room of (sometimes unruly) twenty to thirty 8 – 10 year olds!
As Personal Assistants, we are in daily contact with people from all walks of life and need to understand how to get the best out of people – Scouting is an excellent grounding in this – managing young leaders, volunteers and parent helpers whilst also running an activity for Cubs with a wide range of personalities, skills and abilities!
A few years ago I found that running a group was quite difficult with a busy and challenging career as an Executive Assistant. I worked for a Chief Executive and Chairman in a growing and ambitious organisation and it was becoming increasingly difficult to leave work on time – but rather than leaving Scouting, I undertook a different role (or three!). I became an Assistant District Cub Leader so instead of running my own pack, I helped out with other packs and assist running District events. I also agreed to take on the task of keeping our website up to date, so had to learn WordPress – little did I know at the time that this would become a valuable skill when I started my own business and launched my website! I also undertook the role of Appointments Secretary for a year, approached because of my reputation as a great organiser.
The connections that I have made in Scouting have also been incredible. I have a wide network of friends through Scouting. One leader recently introduced me to a new business networking group; another offered to display posters advertising my Virtual Assistant services in the Scout Hut – you can’t underestimate the value of free advertising to what was then my new business. My connection to Scouting also inspired the original logo for my business, although I rebranded a couple of years ago.
One of our local groups holds an annual firework display and I often see some of the Cubs that were in my pack all those years ago, now 18+ years old and still in Scouting as Young Leaders. It is so rewarding to know that the effort that we put in as leaders is valued by the children and they had enjoyed their time in Scouting so much that they have continued in the movement and are now giving something back themselves.
And you can’t underestimate the the amazing things that you get to do as a Scout Leader, it pushes you to do things which may be out of your comfort zone! Through Scouting I have abseiled, swamp walked, camped, caved, climbed and scaled the heights of the Go Ape tree rope walks!
If you have ever thought about volunteering? Go on, you’ll regret it if you don’t and you never know who you might meet and how it might change your life.