Our Scouts of the World Award Project...
In January 2018 Alex Jenkins and Sam Kingstone achieved their Scouts of the World Award (SOWA). Both Alex and Sam are from Tamworth District in Staffordshire and were members of the same Explorer unit, Barbarians ESU. Alex is now the Explorer Leader of Barbarians ESU and Sam is an Assistant Explorer Leader at Spartans ESU –a satellite Explorer unit within Tamworth District. Both attended SOWA discoveries – Alex in Greater Manchester and Sam in South Birmingham, where they received loads of information and advice on the Scouts of the World Award and how to fulfill the requirements of the award. Here, they tell us a bit about their experience.
After the Discoveries, we were assigned a mentor, Bruce Field, who was our ACC (Scout Network) within Staffordshire Bruce has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the higher awards in Scouting, and so we felt fortunate to have him as a mentor.
Alex was sitting in the front of our DESC’s campervan on the way back from Winter Camp last January when the Scouts of the World Award idea came up. Our DESC told Alex about how a local Guide Leader had turned up on her doorstep requesting help from our Explorer Scout Group to develop a piece of land on the grounds of a grade 2 listed building, Middleton Hall. Middleton Hall dates back to medieval times and is now run by an independent charitable trust. Our DESC, Suze, (understandably) wasn’t sure how she would find the time to organise this. Alex saw this as an amazing opportunity for us to do something for our local community and also work towards the Scouts of the World Award.
So, we got together during a Network meeting and Alex explained the idea and we became equally excited.
For the next few weeks we spent more time together than we did with our families, putting a plan of action together for the next year. We then decided it would be great to use the land as a campsite not only for Scouts but also for Guides and other youth groups. We spent time looking at how to address the lack of toilets, doing risk assessments, and thinking about everything from funding and the hiring of tools and equipment, to the more important matters like which is the nearest chippy site for dinner.
We then managed to get the backing of both Bruce and our DC, Chris, after explaining our proposal and plan to them.
So, on a cold yet sunny day in February we visited the site and as you will see from the photo there was a lot of work that needed to be done to make the land suitable for camping. We soon realised the scale of the task ahead of us. It was a real reality check.
We started having second thoughts, as often happens when confronted with a big challenge However, working together we soon realised that we could achieve it. We got excited thinking about the difference we could make and the challenges that lay ahead.
Over the next nine months we used our powers of persuasion to bring together a diverse mix of people to assist with the project. These individuals ranged from Scouts, Explorers and Guide Leaders to parents. We even managed to get old Explorers to attend (who are now regular Network Members). A County team member managed to come down to join in too.
We spent most weekends clearing overgrown shrubs, fallen trees and paths. We then started to cover the ground in weed prevention sheeting, dig out tree stumps with a spade and saw and repair bridges over small streams.
Once the area started to look suitable for a future campsite we started on the mini-project to build a campfire. This is where we quickly learnt the skills of brick laying and cement mixing by hand. We ensured the materials we were clearing were put to good use by creating a wood store for future users.
On the 5th November all of our hard work and determination paid off when we held the Middleton Hall Campsite Open Day where leaders from anywhere could come down and view the work done over the previous months. The day was a great success. We brought together Scout and Guide Leaders from across Tamworth, as well as our fellow Scouters from across Staffordshire.
We were really shocked when they compiled the record of hours we’d worked, which they needed to provide in order to achieve the award, and saw that we had manually worked on site for over 500 hours. When the hours from everyone else who helped were added it worked out to over 1000 hours worked on site! This didn’t include the time we’d spent planning and the extra odd couple of hours here and there – not to mention the fundraising events and time spent writing many letters to local councils and businesses for grants.
Being Explorer Scout Leaders has proven to be a great platform to show and inspire the future Network generation what can be achieved. We hope we’ll be able to support them to achieve bigger and better things.
We’ve now achieved the top 4 awards in Scouting available to us as Scout Network members – Explorer Belt, DofE Gold, SOWA and Queen’s Scout Award. Whilst neither of us went to University, we believe that these awards have given us just as great lessons and life skills that we could have gained in an academic environment.
To find out more about the Scouts of the World Award, visit the website at scouts.org.uk/sowa