Why I volunteer #1: The Beaver Scout leader

Photo of Donna Carl standing in front of a group of Beaver Scouts.

By Donna Carl, 1st Bradley Stoke Scouts Beaver leader.

I give up two evenings a week, and the odd weekend to run a Beaver colony with lots of six to eight year olds, and two other leaders to keep me sane, as well as some fantastic young leaders, and it’s safe to say I love it!

I’m now in my 4th year of being a Beaver Scout leader. I started by responding to an advert when my local group was expanding and were looking for leaders. I didn’t think they would be interested in me as I don’t have any of my own children, and I wasn’t part of Scouting growing up. Being of a certain age, and a girl, I wasn’t allowed to join my brother when he went to Cubs, even though I really wanted to.

Fast forward some 40-ish years and thankfully Scouting is now available to both boys and girls, and the same for leaders. Despite my initial reluctance of thinking I might be judged or looked at oddly for wanting to join a youth organisation when I didn’t have any youth, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I applied, went through a relatively straightforward selection process and background checks, and was very soon welcomed into the Scouting family. Before I knew it, I had 18 very boisterous, very loud, very energetic six and seven year olds, whose parents had entrusted into my care for one hour a week. I had the help and support of a great team, who were old hands, and who knew the ropes and could put together a varied programme. Despite my initial reluctance of wondering how I would cope, not only did I cope, but I loved it! The Beaver age is such a great age, they are still exploring the world and get joy from the simplest of things. That joy is infectious!

It’s great to see the changes in them as they start their route through Scouts, and often they join as a shy, insecure child, who doesn’t want to leave their parents and they will leave us two years later as a confident eight-year-old that has learnt both practical and life skills and is rapidly gaining that independence and confidence to try new things, wanting to push themselves to achieve more and more. It really makes me feel proud to see just how far they come in such a relatively short time.

If I’ve had a bad day at work, just being around my Beavers soon puts a smile on my face again.  It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you have all these eager, excited Beavers wanting to know what this week’s activity will be. We do everything with them, from teaching the basics of cooking to the life-saving skills of first aid. During the summer months we like to go out and about as much as we can, even if it’s something as simple as making dens from sticks in the wood or going to the local park. In addition to that, we do lots of adventurous activities; canoeing, climbing and days out to theme/adventure parks. Being a Beaver leader definitely keeps me active!

I’ve also gained some great friends through Scouting. My leadership team are fantastic, and we really do bond as one.  We often meet up socially outside of Scouting, so I’ve extended my friendship circle as well.

Inspired to volunteer?

If you want to find out more about scouting, please visit www.bradley-stoke-scouts.org.uk

This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 13). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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  1. My granddaughter has just moved to Cubs after a wonderful time at Beavers with the team of which Donna is leader. They have done so many activities, all of which Bella loved. I think night hikes and going on camp were probably her favourites. I live in Glasgow and visit Bradley Stoke frequently to see my family. I have been welcomed every time I have been to their meetings. Bella is very proud of her badges, some of which I have made time to sew on! Both her father and her aunt (my son and daughter) loved Scouting and got a great deal out of it. It is so good to see Bella already benefiting and thoroughly enjoying Scouting.

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