Scouts in South London

THE number of young people joining the Scouts in South London is growing at its fastest rate for nearly 40 years. As well as the traditional knot-tying and first aid skills, Scouts can now enjoy water skiing, abseiling and glider flights. Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and the older Explorer Scouts membership went up by four per cent last year in Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Wandsworth. The rise in the boroughs, the biggest since 1972, was higher than the national average rate. Harvey Ward, a Scout leader at the Battersea Westside Scout Group in Battersea, said: “I’ve been a leader for almost two years now and I love it. “I decided to get involved because I wanted to give something back to young people in my community – but I’ve really benefited as well.” Children can join the Beavers from just six years old, moving on to Cubs at eight and then the Scouts from 10 to 14 years old. Now Scouts continue with Explorer Scout groups for 14- to 18-year-olds – the fastest-growing age group. Leanne Markey, 16, an Explorer Scout with the Golden Hind Explorer Unit in Southwark and Lewisham, said Scouting was “awesome”. She said: “I love being involved. It’s great. I joined in July 2009 because my friend who was already in Scouting recommended it. “You get to experience different things that you would not be able to experience anywhere else. I’d definitely encourage others to join.” TV explorer Bear Grylls, who was appointed Chief Scout in the UK last year, said the growth figures were fantastic. He said: “Scouting is empowering, wild and fun and offers so many adventure-based activities for young people and adults alike.”

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