'Bear Grylls effect' sees boom in Cumbrian Scouts

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10 April 2017 6:50PM

ADVENTURER Bear Grylls has joined Scout leaders in Cumbria to issue a public plea for volunteers as the waiting list for young new recruits in the county hits an all-time high.

While young people are often painted as device-addicted, technology-obsessed, social media junkies, Cumbria appears to be bucking the trend.

Figures from this month’s Scouting in Cumbria census reports that 281 youngsters across the area are hankering for a space in their local groups.

The Bear Grylls effect, movement away from traditional gender stereotypes and desire for digital detox are just some of the factors which, leaders believe, have contributed to demand outstripping supply.

This comes as the local branch of the association also reports a record number of adult volunteers - more than 1,000 - on its books.

There are now 3,412 young people involved in Scouting in Cumbria. Including adult volunteers, the total membership today is 4,426, up by 32 per cent in the last decade. The association puts the success in the growth of the movement down to changing with the times to meet the needs of modern members - young and old.

Eddie Ward, county commissioner for Scouting in Cumbria, said: “Our adult volunteers today seek much more flexible volunteering arrangements than in the past so that they can fit it around their busy lives.

“Many adults who are signing up with the Scouts have a limited amount of time to donate to us, and so we need more volunteers as a whole to accommodate the continued demand for Scouting among young people.”

Mr Ward is urging the adults of Cumbria to consider giving their time to the association in a bid to reduce the waiting list.

He said: “I am calling on adults who want to make a difference to the lives of young people in their communities to give Scouting a go.

“We know that not having enough time is the main barrier to volunteering among adults, which is why we want to make it easier by offering flexibility in a range of roles from Scout group leaders to administrative and trustee positions.”

Chief Scout Mr Grylls said: “I’m super proud that we have so many adult volunteers who are helping young people develop the skills they need to succeed in life.

“Volunteering changes us all for the better. Please join me.”

Scouting continues to be the largest co-educational youth movement in the UK, with 12 consecutive years of growth in its youth membership. Data shows the Cub Scouts - for children between the ages of eight and 10 - is the most popular Scouting section, with 1,140 members in Cumbria.

Last year it was reported that nationally, the number of girls signing up accounted for three quarters of all new recruits. According to local spokesman Matt Sanderson, Cumbria has seen "steady year on year growth" in the number of young females joining the association.

He also said television presenter and international adventurer Mr Grylls, who became the youngest ever chief Scout in 2009 at the age of 35, had raised the profile of the association.

“He’s certainly helped. Whenever you see him on television, he is wearing his badge,” added Mr Sanderson.

Kieran Harrop, an Explorer Scout aged 14 from Duddon Dragons Explorer Scout Unit in south Cumbria, said: “My leaders are awesome! Every week they provide me with new skills that help me develop as an individual."

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