How and Why to Volunteer for The Scout Association

Let’s get one thing straight – you don’t need to be Bear Grylls to volunteer for the Scouts, the UK’s largest youth movement. All you need is a little time, a positive outlook and a good waterproof for those drizzly afternoons outdoors – what those in the movement like to call ‘Scout sunshine’.

Put simply, the Scouts prepare young people with skills for life. Local Scout Groups give young people the confidence to step up, speak up, and play their part. With activities from canoeing and coding to, dragon boating and den building, Scouts learn how to work as a team, and gain skills that will help them in later life.

With 8,000 groups across the UK, it’s easy to find one near you. And there are so many roles to choose from, not just working directly with young people. Those who can balance the books, drive the minibus or give a meeting place a new lick of paint are all equally welcome. They’re on the lookout for friendly, reliable and proactive volunteers to join give young people the best possible start in life.

Here are just a few good reasons why you may want to become a Scout or local volunteer:

1. Help young people balance screen-time with green time

With terms like ‘doomscrolling’ creeping into news headlines, many young people are letting their lives become dominated by social media. That’s why it’s more important than ever they understand the mental health benefits of spending time outdoors. The Scouts helps young people and adults alike balance their screen time with green time by letting them experience the freedom of mountains and open spaces while they find their place in the world.

Each week, through the generosity of volunteers, the Scouts give over 460,000 young people the opportunity to try new things while developing the skills that they need to succeed, now and in the future, no two weeks are the same. From conquering a hike, camping and cycling, abseiling down a cliff face, or canoeing or kayaking for the first time to picking up a creative or practical hobby like writing, music, or DIY, talent and passion exists to be nurtured. Wherever your interests lie, there is a badge to be earned at the Scouts. Explore the full list of Activity Badges here.

Overcoming challenges builds strength, resilience and invaluable teamwork and leadership skills; it worked for rower, Helen Glover, who got her first taste of watersports in Scouts and went onto win double Olympic gold. It also worked for Tim Peake, who said that Cub Scouts was the first step on the path that took him into space.  

Today’s global Scout membership tops over 55 million and there are over 640,000 Scouts and volunteers in UK alone. With now over a quarter of Scouts who are female, it’s more diverse and inclusive than ever, helping every community across the UK. It now supports young people in 98 of the 100 most deprived areas of the country. 

2. Improve well-being

A major study made by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow said that by the age of 50, Scouts are 15% less likely to suffer from mood disorders, including depression and anxiety, compared with others. That’s down to the grounding and perspective Scouting gives you, as well as the positive benefit of spending time outdoors.

Edna H, a representative from 1st Stretford (Longford) Scout Group, said:
When humans talk about adventures, we usually talk about the physical ones. The volunteering opportunities with Scouting have opened the doors to many adventures for me that have encompassed not only a physical journey, but an emotional one. Volunteering has not only helped me bloom into being a more confident person, but I have made friends who have become more like family.”

In the UK alone, there are over 60,000 young people on the waiting list to join the Scouts. As more and more young people from different backgrounds want to become part of the adventure, it’s hard to keep up with the demand.

That’s where adult volunteers come in. Volunteers give a little of their free time to help young people in their communities but along the way they also learn new skills that can be taken into the workplace. In a similar way to all other members of the Scouts, young adults who volunteer for their local groups gain self-confidence and a strong sense of identity, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety.

3. Be a flexible volunteer

Edna, from 1st Stretford (Longford) Scout Group is just one of the volunteers supporting Scouts.
‘Together with other volunteers, I have been a part of inspiring other children to learn and embark on their own journey by encouraging them to be themselves, express themselves and find their own adventures.’

However, not all our volunteers deliver activities to young people. Scouting only works when they have a wider team of flexible volunteers to make the magic happen – that means people who can decorate a meeting place, cook at camp, chair a meeting or manage campsites.

Volunteers range from:
– Adult volunteers at a range of levels such as Section Leaders, Group Scout Leaders, District Commissioners and County Commissioners to help things run smoothly and support other volunteers
– Adult Helpers who support Scouting meetings and activities on a flexible basis
– Parent supporters who can only help out occasionally or with specific duties
– Executive Committee Members assist with the running of a Scout Group by taking on roles such as Treasurer

The Scouts can make use of a wide range of skills. They also provide full training and support to adult volunteers.

Sazeda Patel, who started a Scout group in Blackburn, said:

“I have seen positive things in Scouting and it has taught me so much – real skills for real life. Adults like me, all over the country, are dedicating our time, because we see the value in Scouting to make a real difference in our communities and the world.”

4. There are tons of practical benefits to being a volunteer

Scouting happens because of a lot of busy people coming together to give a little bit of time in their week to lend a helping hand. Since so many mums, dads, sons and daughters volunteer together, it becomes more like a family and it’s a great way to bond as a team.  And here’s the secret: you always get out more than you put in. Not only does it improve health and self-esteem, the experience is brilliant for your CV and higher education applications too. As a volunteer, you’ll be actively helping your local community and expanding the community awareness of the young people in your group.
You’ll gain skills of your own and help inspire future generations.

5. The Scouts are partnered with us!

The Scout Association has an ongoing, well-established relationship with us at Go Outdoors. Since we specialise in camping gear, tents, outdoor clothing, footwear, and anything else that may come in handy for Scout Groups, we are the Scout Association’s Recommended Outdoor Retailer and sponsor of their Hikes Away and Nights Away Activity Badges. These badges let members agree at least four hours of a particular activity with their leader to gain the badge. Whether it be a bike ride, horseback ride, an overnight walking expedition, or a night spent at a lodge a little further from home, Go Outdoors kit out thrill-seeking and enthusiastic youngsters with all the resources, in-store activities and anything else that they’ll need to prepare them for their adventure. Find out more about the Hikes Away and Nights Away Badges here.

To find out more about the Scouts, visit our Scout partnership hub.