//That Time I Organised a Mock General Election at Scouts//

Lately my passion for politics has just come flooding back to me. As you may or amy not know, last year I stuided AS Level Government & Politics, and unexpectedly fell in love with it. Whilst studying for my A Levels this year, I’ve had to push politics to the side and focus on the subjects I’m currently studying, but I think the recent political events in the USA, France and now the UK, my love for politics has returned, as it were.

Today at dinner I was discussing the French election with my family, as you do, and suddenly remembered That Time I Organised a Mock General Election at Scouts™ with my sister. After doing a bit of digging on my old blog, I found the post I’d written about it, so I thought I’d write about it again, because it’s something I’m really proud of (and yet another sign that I was in love with politics without realising??? Seriously for the past few years I’ve been like ‘oh yeah history is my favourite subject and I want to study it at uni’ and somehow completely missed all the signs that I was actually really enthusiastic about politics WELL DONE EM). Funnily enough, I can still remember where the idea came from. Basically at my Explorer Scout group we had to take it in turns in organising the meetings, and as we met on Thursdays, our weekly meeting would fall on the 7th May 2015, which just happened to be polling day for the 2015 General Election. I noticed this when we were at the planning meeting in January to plan the meetings for the months ahead and as our Scout hut is used as the local polling stations, it meant we wouldn’t be able to meet at the hut on that night. it was n’t a problem, because as our leaders said we would just have to meet outside of the hut that night, but it got me thinking. Despite the fact that i wasn’t even studying politics in 2015, and had never studied in school, I remember being really enthused about the General Election, and the fact that our Explorer meeting coincided with polling day was just too good an opportunity to miss in my opinion!

So, I talked to my sister who was also part of my Explorer group, and we came up with the idea of holding a ‘mock’ General Election in which the explorers form their own political parties, come up with a manifesto, present their ideas to the group and then have a secret ballot. So we claimed tha evening as our night to organise and got planning!

As we couldn’t meet at the hut, we decided to meet at the local woods instead (which in hindsight wasn’t The Best™ idea because GNAT BITES ARGHH) and instead of getting the ‘parties’ to right a whole manifesto, we just asked them to come up with policies on the EU, the environment and education. I ended up being part of a party as well, because there was an odd number of Explorers there, and our party was called ‘UK Dependent on Immigration Party’ or ‘UDIP’ for short (political pun intended – I think you can probably guess our politcal standpoint). Overall, the evening went really well! I mean, we came up with some whacky policies that probably would never get us elected, but it was thrilling to feel like we were actually engaging with politics.

The result of the ballot was 6 votes to The Bush Party (don’t ask), 5 votes to UDIP and 1 vote to The Fromage Party. Instead of forming a minority government, The Bush Party opted to form a coalition with The Fromage Party.

I think organising and running this mock election is one of the things I’m most proud of doing in Scouts, because I actually felt like I as helping fellow young people to get involved in politics and to the help them understand more about the way the govenrment works in the UK. Thinking back on it now, I think this could be something I want to go into in the future – educating young people about politics. Whether that be through teaching or campaiging or what, the advocacy of politics in education is something that I’m very passionate about (you can read my post about why politics should be taught in schools here), but we shall see where the future takes me!

//Founders day! 110 years of Scouting//

Today is known as Founder’s Day in the Scouting movement as it’s the birthday of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting. 2017 also marks 110 years of Scouting! So I thought I’d talk a bit about what Scouting means to me. 🙂

I started scouting in 2007 when I joined Cubs, and left scouting last September as I couldn’t keep up with it as well as starting a-levels, so in total I’ve spent 8 years of my life in Scouts and what an amazing time that’s been! 

One of the most prominent things that comes to mind when thinking about Scouting and what it means to me and for all the millions of other scouts around the world is the word ‘discovery’. 

Obviously, scouting provides a doorway through which we can have access to the outdoor world and explore more about the place where we live but alongside that, it gives young people a safe environment in which to discover ourselves; who we are and how we fit in with the world and society. 

That’s something that I’ve really valued throughout my time in Scouting, because the inclusive atmosphere at my local scout group made feel comfortable enough to be myself and develop as an individual and I’m really grateful that I had this opportunity growing up. It’s definitely helped to shape me as a person and taught me invaluable skills such as communication and respect which are often lost in the hustle-bustle of modern society. Most importantly, it’s given me a more positive outlook on life as I know that even if I’m faced with challenges that seem impossible, there is always away to get through them with perseverance and hard work.

Despite being a girl in a scouting movement that is predominantly – but not exclusively – made up of boys, during my time in scouts I didn’t once feel that I couldn’t – or shouldn’t – do something just because of my gender. The opportunities and experiences scouting gave me were some of the best of my life – from attending Gilwell 24 and being surrounded by thousands of other scouts from around the UK and further a field to hiking up mountains in Austria and volunteering as a Young Leader and helping other young people get the most out of their time in Scouting. However I know that young people in other countries may not have the chance to experience this so I’d like to say that I hope that as the scouting movement grows, it will help young people in countries where society is not equal or inclusive to have some of the experiences I’ve had and be given equal opportunities to discover the world around them and develop as young people, regardless of gender, religion, race or sexual orientation. 

Although I am not currently a member of the scouting movement, I will never forget what it means to me and one day hope to get back into scouting and help young people get the most out of the wonderful association that I love.

//Scouting for girls, scouting for all//

Today I read an article summarising the 2016 UK Scouting census which was full of statistics – some which made me very proud to be a member of such an inclusive youth movement, and others which made me realise there is still a long way to go before Scouting around the world is fully inclusive.

This year marks the 25 anniversary of girls being accepted and welcomed in to all sections of Scouting, for all age groups. 25 years is a relatively short amount of time compared to the 109 years that Scouting has been running in total. For just under a quarter of the Scouting movement’s lifetime, girls like me have been allowed to explore the outdoors, enjoy thrilling adventures and most importantly have fun with other youngsters whilst boys have been able to do so for 109 years.

Although 25 years of girls in Scouting is a very important and exciting milestone to have reached, it does disappoint me a little that it wasn’t until 84 years after Lord Baden-Powell hosted the first ever Scout camp on Brownsea Island and therefore created the Scouting movement, that girls were given the same amazing opportunities that Scouting has to offer as boys had nation-wide.

Despite this, I do feel very lucky and honored to be a representative 25% of the Scouting movement in the UK on this blog. Although I do wish the percentage of females in Scouting was higher, I’m sure, over the years, this figure will continue to grow and I want to be a part of that.

Over my 8 years in Scouting, I have seen the number of girls in my group steadily grow. When I first started in Cubs in 2007 – which was, coincidentally, the 100th year of Scouting – I was one of two girls in a Cub pack of around 30. A few years later when I moved up to Scouts, there were probably around 5 girls at any one time. Now I am an Explorer scout and am proud to say that my Explorer unit has a healthy, almost equal, balance of girls and boys.

Scouting has been such a life-changing experience for me –  I have grown in confidence, for a start, but I have also experienced so many extraordinary things that outside of Scouting I could never have dreamed of participating in and achieving .

For example: I have been white water rafting in the rapids of an Austria river, I have zip-lined over a ravine despite my fear of heights, I have led a group on a 10 mile hike in the middle of the night, map reading as well as completing various challenges along the way, I have learnt valuable skills such as first aid and fire safety, I have attended a national camp with over 7,000 participants from around the UK, I have visited the birthplace of Scouting – Brownsea Island, I have been on more muddy, wet, cold Scout camps than I can count on my fingers yet all these memories make me beam with happiness at as I remember them. I have done so much in Scouting that I never thought I could ever and would ever do, however there is still so much more I could do to ensure other girls and young people get to have opportunities like these and memories to last a lifetime.

That is why I’m blogging about Scouting, to get the word out that ‘Scouting is for girls and Scouting is for all’. That’s also why I have been a Young Leader at a Cub pack for 2 years now, to show the next generation of young people what Scouting is all about and to inspire more youngsters to join the adventure. As my Explorer leader said to me a few weeks ago – ‘people like you are the future of Scouting’. In the next 5, 10, 15 years it is going to be young people like me who already help to run and organise Scouting on a small scale, volunteering our free time despite having to study for exams and complete vast amounts of school work, to help youngsters get everything out of Scouting that I did when I was their age. It is going to be us that are going to be the face of Scouting in the years to come, adding to the already 115,000 strong network of adult volunteers in the UK. It’s my way of giving back to Scouting, for saying ‘thank you’ for everything it has helped me achieve and for making me the person I am today.

However, despite the fact that UK now has 573,000 members in the UK alone, it has been estimated that as much as 50% or more of the British population do not know that girls are welcomed into Scouting, and we need to change this.We need to spread the message that Scouting is for all.

Although in the UK I am able to be a Scout, in other countries around the world girls don’t have the same opportunity as I have to take part in Scouting and it’s not just girls either – in some other countries, youngsters are prevented from joining Scouting because of not just their gender but their sexuality, their race, their religion…the list goes on. Although I would love to see the day when the proportion of female Scouts in the UK equals or even beats that of males, even more so would I love to see the day that all youngsters around the world have the chance to be involved in such a wonderful movement.

Yes, Scouting in the UK is inclusive, and we are very lucky to have that, but Scouting around the world at the moment isn’t entirely inclusive. Not only do we need to spread the message within the UK that Scouting is for girls too, we need to do so in every country around the world. Scouting isn’t and shouldn’t be a gender specific youth movement in any country and in order to move towards a more equal society, we need to spread this message. Even if you are not or have not been involved in Scouting yourself, even if you don’t know anything about Scouting whatsoever, I hope that you will take away from this post that Scouting is for all and understand why it is so important to me and many others that this message is spread across the world so that Scouting isn’t known as ‘a youth movement for adventurous boys’ but ‘a youth movement for adventurous young people’.

//Leaving parties are the worst//

Bonjour! How are you? I’m feeling a weird mixture of sadness, joy and ill (my year group had a meningitis vaccination yesterday and a lot of people are now feeling ill which is probably not a good).

Yesterday I had an absolutely amazing evening though, despite feeling sick the whole time.

Now, I haven’t mentioned it on this blog yet but I go to explorer scouts and scouting as been a major part of my life for 8 years now. I’ve always been a really adventurous person who loves the outdoors so scouting is literally my life.

Last night my two explorer scout leaders had their leaving party. I have known them for about two years now so it was really sad to see them go. My explorer unit got on so well with them that they were more like friends than leaders so we always had lots of banter but now they have officially left and it’s sad because the dynamic of the group is going to change. On the plus side though our new leaders are nice too so hopefully we will get on with them too.

To celebrate and thank them for their time as our leaders, we went ten-pin bowling. It was absolutely brilliant!

We had a great time just joking around, singing and dancing to the music and taking loads of selfies, as well as actually bowling of course.

It made me realise how much I love my scouting friends and how I could never leave them. As far as bowling was concerned, I wasn’t that great at it in the first game but by the time we played the second game I had got the hang of it and came a respectable third place.

I am so exhausted now though as I got home at like 11 pm and was too hyper to sleep until 1 am. Plus feeling ill from the jab doesn’t really help either.

I did manage to do some photography whilst bowling though.

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I hope you all had a relatively good week and are looking forward to the weekend!

I’m going to spend the rest of my evening watching the UK’s Eurovision song contest finals. 🙂