Scouting proves its benefit in trying times

By Daneka Hill

For weeks scouts of all neckerchiefs, badges and stripes have been camping virtually and received their certificates through a screen.

Now good news is here – limited outdoor activities are resuming, remote camping is allowed, and new proof was released showing scouts are more resilient, confident and mature compared to their non-scouting classmates.

Those claims come from a recent survey of over 1000 kids aged 8-18 by research company Resilient Youth Australia.

Scouting Australia is no stranger to glowing survey results, but this survey comes at a particularly relevant time following the unparalleled bushfire season and disruption to Australian kids’ schooling lives.

For 1st Echuca scout leader Helen Barnes the survey results are a no-brainer.

“The greatest joy we get as scout leaders is seeing how much personal growth and confidence kids achieve,” Mrs Barnes said.

“There was one boy who walked in at 6-7 years of age who didn't like being away from his parents, they had to sit with him during scout activities and stuff like that, and several years later he could get up in front of a room of a 100 people and confidently talk.”

Over 60 kids ranging in age from 5-25 are part of 1st Echuca scouts, split between 10 to 11 leaders.

During COVID-19, Mrs Barnes said her scouts were going "pretty well" in lockdown.

“We Zoom call and have sessions at the times we'd normally meet in the hall - we are very aware they could be finding things pretty hard without school or their friends, but the scout Zoom sessions are good because we get them talking to one another about what they've been doing at home.”

Scouting Australia chief commissioner Phil Harrison said the results of the study were truly ground-breaking and exciting for the organisation.

“(The survey results) reaffirm the essential service scouting is,” Mr Harrison said.

“We empower young kids to take the lead and give them a safe space where they can work with others to plan and embark on adventures.”

Key findings showed scouts were more likely to:

● Give time to help others (73.2 per cent vs 81.3 per cent)

● Trust others (68.5 per cent vs 81.5 per cent)

● Hold more hope for a positive future than non-scouts (69 per cent vs 78.8 per cent)

● Forgive themselves if they make a mistake (63.3 per cent vs 71.1 per cent)

● Less likely to report feeling tired or having little energy (67.6 per cent vs 79.1 per cent)

In response to COVID-19, Scouting Australia has made joining the scouts free, an initiative that will continue until March 2021.