Scouting around for leaders

‘At Te Awamutu, we lost three scout leaders and our group leader in the months leading up to Christmas. Some smaller groups have had to close altogether.’ – scouts chairman Paull Chunn.

Members of the Te Awamutu Scout group Venturers pictured during a hike which took them to the Waihaha hut in the Pureora forest.

The Te Awamutu Scouts group has taken a hit from Covid, and hopes are that a registration/muster next week will swell the number of leaders needed to keep going.

Safety is at the core of all scouting activities – Keas (school years 1-3), Cubs (years 4-6), Scouts (years 7-10), and Venturers (years 11-13).

Paull Chunn, Te Awamutu Scouts chairman, said the national office’s attendance ratio for all groups requires two leaders to be present for every six members at a meeting.  It is a safety requirement to protect both adult volunteers and youth.

“Our national office expects the number of adult volunteers and youth attendees to drop by 10 percent due to the Covid outbreak and the subsequent vaccine mandate for all attendees over the age of 12 years and 3 months,” he said. “Anecdotally, this figure is much higher for most scout groups.  At Te Awamutu, we lost three scout leaders and our group leader in the months leading up to Christmas. Some smaller groups have had to close altogether.”

The local group is being temporarily administered by an acting group leader from the Waikato Central Zone office until a permanent group leader is found.  Helping for the time being is Te Awamutu’s Andrew Mansell and two leaders from other groups – one of whom can commit only to the first school term.

“Without more volunteer leaders, we will struggle to run Keas, Cubs and Scouts in the coming year,” said Paull.

Andrew has been a leader for more than 10 years, covering the period his son went through Cubs, Scouts then Venturers, and his daughter did Venturers.  Once they finished, he carried on, enjoying it almost as much as the youngsters.

Also helping is Community Safety Officer Mandy Merson, who has extensive scouting history and was Waikato Zone Scout Leader.

“Te Awamutu Scouts need adults to volunteer to become leaders. It can be a great to experience challenges with youth. As an adult I got to try new things and push my own boundaries… most things I would never have tried if it wasn’t for scouting.”

Paull said potential leaders need a vaccine pass, would be police vetted, receive training and would be warranted by the national office before starting.  He hopes the February 23 muster will bring in new leaders as well as registrations from youth keen to join.

“After that, we will be in a better position to crunch the numbers and see how we can service the attendance ratio requirements,” said Paull. “That will tell us which scouting sections we will be able to operate safely. Ideally, we would like to see all four sections running. Realistically on our leader numbers now, we could only safely run Venturers for the whole of this year, and one other section for term one.”

Next Wednesday’s muster night will be from 6pm to 7.30pm at the Te Awamutu Scout Group premises, 11 Scout Lane, Te Awamutu. All are welcome to attend – vaccine passes are required for those over 12 years and 3 months.

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