Lancashire Scouts: changing young lives and helping kids do more, learn more, and be more

The Scouts are doers and give-it-a-go-ers. Butterflies in the stomach? Forget them and go for it, says the UK’s biggest mixed youth organisation whose mantra is ‘do more, learn more, and be more’.
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The 8th Penwortham St Teresa’s Scouts is part of the West Lancs Scouts, one of the largest scout counties in the UK, with a total membership of over 10,000. Their mission is to provide young people between the ages of six and 25 with what they call #SkillsForLife.

“Scouts is fantastic and being able to contribute to the development of young people who are the lifeblood of our communities is fantastic,” says Group Scout Leader John Topping, who’s been involved for almost 35 years. “Kids have a real desire to learn.

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“When you see them do something they never thought they could, their confidence grows,” adds John, 75, from Penwortham. “That’s why we’re always desperate for more adults to get involved to facilitate that - it’s the most rewarding volunteering you can do.”

8th Penwortham St Teresa's Scouts8th Penwortham St Teresa's Scouts
8th Penwortham St Teresa's Scouts

Having been involved for a decade, Beaver group leader Andrea Love agrees. “To have seen my son and his friends come through Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts and now become young leaders passing on their skills is fantastic,” she says. “It’s fabulous to see how being involved brings young people confidence.”

During Covid, the Scouts were quick to pivot online, too.

“We continued to deliver #SkillsForLife to ensure young people could stay in contact and learn new things,” says John. “It took a lot of work from a lot of dedicated volunteers, but it was of great benefit to the kids’ mental well-being.”

“We encouraged kids to do their badges in lockdown through things like helping their mum or dad mend the car or with gardening,” adds Scout leader Andrew Pennington. “It’s been great to be back in-person, though.

Cub Camp 2022Cub Camp 2022
Cub Camp 2022
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“The kids were so pleased to see their friends again,” adds Andrew, 55. “When restrictions were eased, we had a camp trip on Lake Windermere and they did things like climbing and water sports, so they had a great time.”

“Having a lifeline during Covid was essential – kids were cut off from the outside world, so for them to be able to have a bit or normality was crucial,” continues Andrea. “Parents said the online meetings were the highlight of their kids’ week.

“We got 80 people on one call where we all made ginger snaps – it was brilliant and made such a difference to people’s mental well-being,” she adds. “It was lovely to give the kids a chance to see their friends and keep their social lives ticking over.

“I’m really proud of what we achieved.”

Beavers Zoom sessionsBeavers Zoom sessions
Beavers Zoom sessions

Since restrictions have allowed, Scouts has returned in-person with relish and has once again hosted their annual Bowlander Competition, which is a test of core scouting skills such as teamwork, hiking, navigation, camping, and cooking.

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Over a weekend in March, 25 scout teams had to walk and navigate 20km, cook, camp overnight, make breakfast, and then walk and navigate a further 10km the following day. The 8th Penwortham St Teresa’s Scouts won the competition.

“Our scout group is such an integral part of the community which benefits the children and society in general,” says John, a proud smile on his face. “It’s a real win-win.”