Scouting in Shields is just the job

Cubs from 7th lighting fires with the help of leader Marjorie  Perriman.
Cubs from 7th lighting fires with the help of leader Marjorie Perriman.

Today Jack White continues his look back at the scouting movement in South Tyneside.

“Despite all the changes to scouting within South Tyneside – changes to leadership, meeting places, groups etc. – one thing that has remained constant is the existence of our District Scout Campsite, West Hall,” explains Jack.

“West Hall has been used for scout camps since 1936, and came formally into our ownership some time after the Second World War.

“Readers can find more history about West Hall at // where there is one particular piece of folklore about the Miller’s stump.”

Even in Jack’s relatively young lifetime, he has seen a lot of changes in the scouting movement, as he now explains.

“I joined scouting in January 2003, aged six, as a Beaver. Now, aged 19, I continue as an adult leader in my own group – the 7th South Shields Scout Group, in Highfield Road.

“Scouting, as the largest co-educational youth organisation in both the UK and the world, has changed in that time beyond recognition.

“As a Beaver back in 2003-5, I remember it mainly being a ‘boy’s club’. Now, however, one-quarter of our youth members (aged six-25) are girls.

“Also when I joined in 2003, the organisation was in resurgence from a period of long-term decline.

“Membership was down to record lows, and scouting was stereotyped as being old-fashioned, too traditional, too white, too middle-class.

“That is far from the case now – with record growth in recent years; membership is up by a third since 2000, and the organisation is modern and relevant.

“We have also have record levels of young people and adult volunteers joining us from BME (black and ethnic minority) communities.

“The programme is also modern and exciting.

“We focus on adventure, learning relevant skills and making a contribution to our communities while still remaining true to our roots, and occasionally doing some knot-tying.

“We now have badges for PR for instance.

“There is a focus on citizenship too, for instance to celebrate Parliament Week, the leader of South Tyneside Council, Iain Malcolm, will be delivering a session to my cubs on November 16, about being active citizens.”