15/06/07 Scouting comeback


Well dib, dib, dib – today’s children would rather pick up a tent peg to get ready for a night in the great outdoors than hold a remote control.

Virtual adventures on the screen are giving way to real-life fun thanks to a big comeback of Scouting in Lincolnshire.

More young people than ever are abandoning wall-to-wall TV watching and hi-tech games in favour of the traditional exploits of the Scouting movement, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

What’s more, mums and dads are once again getting excited about helping children experiencing the rough and tumble of the Scouting world than a more closeted existence at home.

The number of new recruits in Lincolnshire has risen steadily over the past year, reversing 13 years of decline. Now 4,035 young people are signed-up, compared with just 3,957 in 2003.

Lincolnshire Scout media development manager Ian Cashmore said there’s never been a lack of interest among the youngsters themselves.

“The difficulty is normally not enough adult support,” he said.

“But when we re-launched a new campaign several years ago we emphasised the importance of adult help – with outdoor activities there needs to be a child to adult ratio of 6:1.

“We were eager to encourage parents to take part too and we feel the message is getting across because this year we’ve had a substantial number of adults come forward.”

Five years ago a fire gutted the Scout hut at Fiskerton, east of the city.

The youngsters temporarily had their headquarters in the neighbouring village of Cherry Willingham but the whole village got together to build a new centre at the same site.

Caroline Wills, from Reepham, has two sons, Laurence (12) and Freddie (11), who are both members of the group.

“There are so many activities for them to do and they have good people in charge,” she said.

“As for the popularity of it, the numbers speak for themselves.

“Fiskerton has a lot of youngsters on its books and it’s very popular among children I know.”

Girl Guide groups in the county are also thriving. In Potterhanworth a new brownies group has started from scratch and is already close to capacity.

Julia Winstanley, district commissioner for Lincolnshire East, said any problems with numbers have been caused by a lack of adult helpers.

“The numbers are good in the area at the moment and I believe that even more helpers would mean more youngsters taking part,” she said.

“It’s really good that the group in Potterhanworth has started because it’s so rare for one to start from scratch. I don’t know of any others in Lincolnshire over the last few years.”