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    TREVOR PHILLIPS october 22 2019, 12:01am, the times Scouts should shun political co

    From today's Times.

    TREVOR PHILLIPS

    october 22 2019, 12:01am, the times

    Scouts should shun political correctness

    trevor phillips

    The organisation I loved as a child is in danger of falling foul of today’s trendy liberal agenda

    I must have been less than 12 years old when I strapped on my first combat knife: a glittering six-inch bowie with a carved wooden handle. Its leather sheath sat snugly against my hip as I roamed the north London streets, the envy of my pals. I wasn’t unusual. Other boys carried their own weapons and we would compare their heft and sharpness after school. And no adult dreamt of banning them because, of course, no one imagined that a boy scout would ever use his blade to injure someone else. To sharpen a stick, spear a sausage, splice your twine, yes — but to shorten a life? No way.

    I spent almost a decade in the scout movement, until I went back to school in the Caribbean where boys got to carry guns as well as knives in the cadet corps. Even if I’d stayed, the scout movement’s scarves, shorts and woggles (yes, I was the butt of that “joke”) began to look increasingly outdated in the 1970s. I reckoned this an incalculable loss. No other youth organisation had the scale to offer poor kids the chance to learn something their parents could never afford for them: climbing, sailing, or skiing to the South Pole. That’s still true. Dwayne Fields, a young black Londoner, was once homeless; next year he and a female scout adventurer will walk 750 miles across Antarctica to show that such adventures aren’t just for rich white public schoolboys.

    Most of all, when others abandoned inner cities in the 1980s the scout movement stayed and its young leaders, some of them barely out of their teens, brought something special to the toughest parts of society. Skip, my old scoutmaster in Tottenham, once confronted a group of bikers who had been smashing bottles outside the local chippy and were threatening to invade the shop. The owner called the police. Skip broke up the trouble by sheer force of personality, made the gang clear up their own mess, and then, when the cops showed up, calmly told them they weren’t needed. Nothing to see here, officer, move along. A few weeks later the same gang returned the favour by calling off a fight in our street at the sight of Skip looming into view.

    Today the scout movement is slowly coming back into fashion but the world has changed around it. Adult confidence has evaporated. No one would risk challenging a knife-wielding teenager. Almost 300 people were killed by stabbing in the past 12 months, a figure not seen since 1945. A quarter of the victims were under 24, and they were almost twice as likely to be people of colour as to be white. Yet the scouts are still there in the rough streets and estates, fighting for the souls of the young, alongside the police and the Salvation Army, which might these days be described as the provisional wing of the Church Militant. They all stress similar values: duty, integrity, self-improvement and practical help for other people.

    That’s why I find it alarming that the movement plans to shift some of its focus to campaigning on issues such as climate change and homelessness. The chief scout, Bear Grylls, who has been a champion of the movement’s traditions of self-reliance and outdoor activity, has been quoted praising the Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg as a “compelling and trusted” voice. Five-year-old beaver scouts are now being asked to imagine themselves as homeless.

    Worthy as this all may be, it makes me uneasy. It sounds suspiciously as though the “woke” brigade has grabbed the reins of the world’s most successful youth movement and decided to downgrade learning personal resilience and consideration and making the world a better place one act of kindness at a time (yes, they do still give up their seats and help old ladies across the road) in favour of getting governments to say the right thing. Fewer badges, more placards, and if there’s any camping to be done it will be in Parliament Square. There’s a place for this sort of advocacy but it would be a shame if virtue-signalling were to bury the scouts’ special contribution — what might be called “virtue in action”.

    I’ve met some of the Scout Association’s leaders, including its chairwoman, Ann Limb. Neither she nor her colleagues seem to be people who would undermine the traditions of the movement. However, as in many other areas, the instinct to modernise can run away with itself. No one can argue with the National Trust’s desire to expand its patrons beyond the wealthy, white middle classes, but showy symbolic gestures and rainbow-flag waving may not be the answer. After all, many people choose to live in Britain precisely because of the old-fashioned virtues that its great institutions embody.

    Last week saw the loss of half a dozen more young lives to knife crime. I don’t imagine that these lives are getting less attention than others because so many of them are children of colour. I really believe that we are a better nation than this, in or out of the EU. Is it too much to hope that when the smoke of Brexit clears, the stench of blood in our streets will so sicken our political and media classes that they will finally gag on their own pointless words and force themselves to do something to confront the carnage?

    And the people who are still fighting this grim battle shouldn’t have to deploy Thunberg-style rhetoric to get their attention. The people in uniform — whether cops, cubs or Christian soldiers won’t solve knife crime on their own — but they have a unique contribution to make, and it shouldn’t be diluted by efforts to show how “woke” they are. Leave political lobbying like that to less noble souls.

    Trevor Phillips is chairman of Green Park Recruitment and a senior fellow at Policy Exchange



    Sent from my ONEPLUS A5010 using Tapatalk

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    He makes some reasonable points, but it doesn’t have to be a binary choice. Scouting can and should offer both outdoor skills / resilience AND a social conscience.

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Thanks for pasting this up (The Times is still behind a paywall right?)

    This is what I feared from the Guardian headline. In fact I had a slightly terse exchange on twitter with Andrew Thorpe and Simon Carter about this who didn't seem to take my point. My point being that there is nothing wrong with promoting the community service side of scouting, but when it is done by implying that we are putting aside aspects like the outdoors then it is like shooting yourself in the foot for PR. Sadly it seems that comments from the coal face don't seem to count for much.

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    It's an opinion that's for sure. And he appears to be contradicting himself, saying scouts is still positioned to make a difference, but also that we've had the reins grabbed by campaigners. Which is it? Or is it both?
    Ian Wilkins
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    I don't really recognise the direction he seems to think we are going in. Sure I'd hope we are always topical and I have talked with Cubs about the environmental impact of poorly managed wood fires, whilst showing them better and more efficient ways to cook on outdoor wood fires and stoves. That's about developing what we're doing (someone yesterday in another place was asking about Cubs still carrying coins to use a phone box - it was barely relevant in the 1980's when I was in Cubs let alone now!) as knowledge develops. We use lightweight hike tents now to expand what we're doing - we don't insist that we can only camp in Icelandics because that's what we've always done.

    Slightly cynically I also think he over estimates the cohesion of the organisation - there might well be someone at the top that thinks we should be out waving placards (I actually doubt it) but the chances of that making it all the way to my Wednesday evening Cub sessions any time soon are pretty remote.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Hmmm.

    Interesting read. First reaction (mine that is), is that it's not the woke brigade who are an existential threat to scouting, it's the professional charity industry. Arguably, the end results might be the same, since the PCI are highly tuned in to the zeitgeist, not because of it, but because of how it can be used.

    I also don't think climate change is a political issue, it's a humanities issue. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but Arnold Schwarzenegger was on the Graham Norton show on Friday there and said it pretty well. The climate issue isn't a left or right thing, it shouldn't be a political football. The Policy Exchange is a right wing (it says centre right) think tank. It's probably not surprising they might try to link woke tendencies to climate change.

    I think with the knife crime issue, Scouts may have had a role - and could have one now. But the gang problems are so ingrained, so deep, that it would be like, well, chucking a 15 year old girl against the combined might of the entire world's capitalist machine.

    And now I sound like a communist.

    Oh well.

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    There is a vast difference of being 'topical' and reflecting society and jumping on every band wagon that passes by. Teaching kids about the environment in an ecological framework, teaching them about trees, woodland and ecological camping nurtures a deep love and respect for our world in a way that telling them that the world is going to consume them in ten years if they dont become vegan, stop flying, and plead with their parents not to have any more carbon consuming children, doesn't. Just as you don't need to join the rainbow coalition to teach them about respect and tolerance. Stick to your core values, and stop trying to re-invent the wheel, or Scouting will become a vanilla organisation that doesnt appeal to the majority of kids who could most benefit from it.

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    I dont identify with this at all, our Scouts are obtaining more badges that ever, and whilst the campaigns get all the headlines, its the young people earning badges, achiving and contributing to society, and yes Camping and learning important life skills that make Scouting more relevant than ever.

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    I think questions could be asked about how we portray ourselves to government etc. Do they only see us claiming to have 500,000 people all working on community projects about dementia and clean water?

    Where is the real benefit of scouting? What do we do that is so important? How do we explain that?

    It's much harder to describe how week after week of positive activities and games lead to better members of society... how playing ready steady cook with mystery foods, or racing to burn a piece of string, or shooting a silly video on a phone can be a hugely important experience to a child.

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    Can't speak for anyone else, but for me it's all about fostering good relations (in work and fun) between adults and young people.

    Everything else is incidental to, or a positive byproduct of that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Can't speak for anyone else, but for me it's all about fostering good relations (in work and fun) between adults and young people.

    Everything else is incidental to, or a positive byproduct of that.

    I agree, I think.

    My view has always been that we should work as a group. I like many, eschewed the patrol system because it was inherently competitive and cliquey. I know that does not go down well with a lot of people, but it worked for us. It worked to the point that when my successors tried to impose the Patrol system, they lost almost all of the Scouts.

    I have also argued, and still do, that we should be part of the community. Not just being present when we want something, but taking part in community events, talking to community "partners". In Scouts, we were limited, but we ran two community events each year and we tried to invite others to join us, but few took up the offer.

    As Navigators, we are much smaller, but we do get involved where we can, in conservation and a local volunteer managed woodland, in Christmas lights festivals, and, we are key players in a community event called Light Up The Woods. This latter event is built around an idea that Navs had when we used Tilleys to light the woods for a BBQ we were having. In three years it has grown from its original 12 exhibitors, to 32 exhibitors from local schools and community groups. I am delighted that Beavers and Cubs from my old Group take part, but somewhat saddened that no other sections from any other Scouts or Guides have taken up the opportunity to get involved in a non-profit community event. The Guide Divisional Comissioner told me that she had sent the invite to all the sections in the area. I just think it sad that they don't get involved.

    However, I was at a community project meeting, where they aimed to build relationships between those groups involved in working with young people in our area of Kirklees. There were people there from social services, education, health services, a couple of community centres and a couple of youth groups. There was no representation from Scouts or Guides. Now, it may well have been that they did not get invited. It may be that they were and ignored the invite. Either way, is syptomatic of the attitude about and by Scouts. In the first, they are not worth bothering about because they are inward-looking and don't take part in community projects, on the second, they feel outside the scope of such community projects.

    Before the excuses get trotted out, I am runing a little known Navigator group , and I got the invitation - three times! Scouts and Guides are well known and are by far the largest ex-curricula youth provision in the UK - and they either didn't get the invites, or they ignored them. Either way, is a sign that something is wrong.
    Ewan Scott

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    Woke? From the use above I’m guessing this is nothing to do with what time my alarm was set this morning!
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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    Woke? From the use above I’m guessing this is nothing to do with what time my alarm was set this morning!
    "Woke" - someone who has woken up to the inequalities that are around them, especially if those inequalities don't apply to them. Usually refers to racial inequalities. Can be used as an insult a bit like lefty virtue signalling "that white boy so woke it hurts", or as a suggestion "Bob needs to be woke", or "Bob needs to be more woke".

    (I've been watching Dear White People on Netflix, nearly put subtitles on but actually it's almost a translator I need)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    I agree, I think.

    My view has always been that we should work as a group. I like many, eschewed the patrol system because it was inherently competitive and cliquey. I know that does not go down well with a lot of people, but it worked for us. It worked to the point that when my successors tried to impose the Patrol system, they lost almost all of the Scouts.

    I have also argued, and still do, that we should be part of the community. Not just being present when we want something, but taking part in community events, talking to community "partners". In Scouts, we were limited, but we ran two community events each year and we tried to invite others to join us, but few took up the offer.

    As Navigators, we are much smaller, but we do get involved where we can, in conservation and a local volunteer managed woodland, in Christmas lights festivals, and, we are key players in a community event called Light Up The Woods. This latter event is built around an idea that Navs had when we used Tilleys to light the woods for a BBQ we were having. In three years it has grown from its original 12 exhibitors, to 32 exhibitors from local schools and community groups. I am delighted that Beavers and Cubs from my old Group take part, but somewhat saddened that no other sections from any other Scouts or Guides have taken up the opportunity to get involved in a non-profit community event. The Guide Divisional Comissioner told me that she had sent the invite to all the sections in the area. I just think it sad that they don't get involved.

    However, I was at a community project meeting, where they aimed to build relationships between those groups involved in working with young people in our area of Kirklees. There were people there from social services, education, health services, a couple of community centres and a couple of youth groups. There was no representation from Scouts or Guides. Now, it may well have been that they did not get invited. It may be that they were and ignored the invite. Either way, is syptomatic of the attitude about and by Scouts. In the first, they are not worth bothering about because they are inward-looking and don't take part in community projects, on the second, they feel outside the scope of such community projects.

    Before the excuses get trotted out, I am runing a little known Navigator group , and I got the invitation - three times! Scouts and Guides are well known and are by far the largest ex-curricula youth provision in the UK - and they either didn't get the invites, or they ignored them. Either way, is a sign that something is wrong.
    Digressing slightly...

    I think I might be a wee bit guilty of what you describe. Must admit, we don't get the kind of invites you're talking about. Those things, if they happen at all, we don't get invited to. What do often get invited to, are events and activities where they need our resources - be that people or equipment. These are other community organisation (gala, sports clubs - and sometimes district.) I usually say no (rightly or wrongly) because I feel I already do enough.

    Also, I'm now spending more time doing what I am told is mandatory (in someone's head it might be) scout stuff, that has nothing to do with actual scouting. So my time is now even more finite.

    I suspect that might be why Scouts (in places) is thought of as inward-looking. And I think it's probably an unforeseen by-product of the absolute waste-of-time activities coming from 'HQ' and the gold-plated whims of a very few district people.

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Those things, if they happen at all, we don't get invited to. What do often get invited to, are events and activities where they need our resources - be that people or equipment.
    ...

    I made this very point to the co-ordinators of this community hub. In any of these co-ordinated attempts to bring community groups together, it is often a one way street for us. We have the people and the resources, they want to use them, and by default our volunteer time, but they offer little or nothing in return. We get asked to get involved when they need us. Nowadays, I carefully consider before saying yes or no.

    I'm not sure where Council comunity co-ordinators see the likes of Scouts and their ilk. I tried to dispell the myth that they were promoting that the kids who attended Scouts were all from well-off families. I pointed out that we had members from both ends of the spectrum - but by contrast, the kids vandalising the local schools, when caught, turned out to be the sons of well-off company directors and the like. Not the kids from poorer backgrounds. - At my age you would have thought that I had learned when to keep my mouth shut, but nope.

    In my email to the co-ordinator, I expressed my concern that the largest ex-curricula youth organisations were not present/ invited - (In a GDPR failure, I had access to all the recipients of the invite to the event - no Scouts, no Guides, No Cadets.)

    I have gone and helped at school where they wanted to know about archery and later, as a group, we went and took the whole school through archery sessions. No money was involved, though they did offer to pay us. The Light Up the Woods Event is a real community event, and although we partner with a community organisation to make it happen, the load is shared across the groups involved - each putting in what they can. That, I like. That is proper community operation.

    We will also be taking part in a Christmas Light Parade this year - no financial gain for anyone and all those involved do their own thing at their own cost, another true community event.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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