Scouts - 10½ to 14 years

Jump in and get muddy. Give back and get set. Scouts ignore the butterflies and go for it, and soon so will you.

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We caught up with Scott Smith who went through the sections with 1st Portsoy and Fordyce Scout Group as a Beaver through to Network on how Scouts helped him become an award winning silversmith. See the full interview below.
Scott is now finishing his silversmithing and jewellery degree at the world famous Glasgow School of Art. Scott won the 2D Silversmith of Year award at what is regarded as the jewellery Oscars in consecutive years, 2020 and 2021, now presents his “Boorachie” collection.
Using carving skills which he learned in the Scouts, and learning to appreciate the abundance of natural material available in rural Aberdeenshire, his jewellery pieces reflect the practices traditionally favoured by the ancient Scottish craftspeople who lived along the coast line.
Q)When and how did you first get involved with Scouts?
A) I joined Portsoy Beavers at age 6 as soon as I could with my friend Steven George. I wanted to spend more time with him outside of school and was very interested in how much outdoor activities Portsoy Beavers offered. I wasn’t a sporty guy so Scouts seemed like a great opportunity for play. After joining in 2004, I never left and am still involved today!
Q) What is your most memorable experience with Scouts and why is it that one?
A) My fondest memories of Scouting are participating in the Blair Atholl Jamborettes. These two-week long camps in the heart of Perthshire provided me the most fun, social and activity-packed weeks of my teenage years and continue to be the highlight of my summer holidays. I made many lifelong friends at these camps and spent hours building lasting relationships in the Scottish outdoors under the fantastic leadership of engaged volunteers. After turning 18, I continue to return to Blair Atholl Jamborette as a Leader and run a ‘Make a Silver Ring’ workshop for the participants to introduce them to traditional jewellery making techniques.
Q) How did Scouts prepare you for your studying/career in Silversmithing?
A) Scouting continues to inform my work ethos and investigation mentality in my design career. As a Scout, I was encouraged to explore a problem from a variety of viewpoints and develop creative problem skills that were transferable across day-to-day life. The challenged we faced in teambuilding exercises or survival skills continue to inspire me to push the boundaries of my thinking and build my own solution to a hurdle. Scouting also gave me the social skills and confidence to emerge myself in any group of people and make friends instantly, making moving to Glasgow and starting a new course and job in the city a breeze.
Q) Which skills/qualities learned in Scouts do you still use today in your Silversmithing?
A) As well as Scouting giving me the confidence to use a plethora of tools, the importance of organising my workshop and how to approach new equipment safely, I also learnt the process of Wood Carving at Portsoy Scouts. Our leaders taught us how to use a range of wood whittling tools to carve tent pegs, cooking utensils and ultimately: a spoon. I later revisited Spoon Carving during the first national lockdown after moving back home to Portsoy due to the COVID-19 pandemic and fell back in love with this meditative process. Spoon Carving allowed to me engage with the abundance of natural material surrounding my childhood farm and reconnect with the area I call Home through this Scouting Skill. The repetitive process of removing wood chips one motion at a time was something I found comforting and reminiscent of my time in Scouting and evolved into a crucial process informing me Degree Collection.
Q) Did your experience Scouts have a role to play in you receiving your awards and if so why?
A) Scouting gave me my confidence for public speaking and the skills needed for networking in a creative context. I continue to use these skills when speaking to important members of the industry or liaisons with potential clients.
Q) What difference have volunteers made on you personally, throughout your time with the Scouts? 
A) Volunteering has informed the way I look at my design practise and where I belong in the creative community.  Through the confidence and social skills I have developed or the creative problem solving and practical solution finding through exploration and experimentation, Scouting has and continues to play a crucial role in my development. I do not know where I would be without the skills learnt at Portsoy Scouts or the personal attributes volunteering has played in my development and graduating year.
Q) What difference have volunteers made on you personally, throughout your time with the Scouts? 
A) The volunteers at Portsoy developed my communication skills, confidence and ability to overcome problems with their dedicated and unwavering attention to progression. The time and energy that the volunteers gave to all of us continues to inspire me to this day and I am forever grateful for all their hard work. It is because of their passion for Scouting and interest in the development of young people that I had such a positive time at Portsoy and grateful for all the practical and personal skills they taught me.
To see more of Scott's work check out:
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It’s been a challenging time over the last year, we’ve went from lockdown through a number of different sets of restrictions to getting back to being allowed to camp and meet face to face..  While some leaders in Scouting are still very wary of being back Face to Face, our youth members rely on us to give them stimulation and give them something close to normality out with School and home life.

While there was concern in January at the drop of number when our annual census was taken, we were very similar to the national average but on the recent headcount exercise numbers have bounced back to close to pre pandemic levels.  This shows the requirement for Scouting and the huge impact every one of you have to our young members and society as a whole.

Looking at some of the specifics:

Summer of play funding allowed us to support over 469 members in getting them back camping and this resulted in over 1200 nights away from home.  What an achievement for all, the Government in providing the funding, the Regional team in administrating the applications and also the adult leaders in taking the younger members out camping.

ScotJam on tour, two days of activities at Templars park run by Scouts Scotland but supported by the Region

Training has continued online throughout the year and the First Response training has changed dramatically but has stepped up to start getting the backlog decreased.  Well done to all who have volunteered to become First Response trainers.

Snow photo competition with such a diverse and wonderful set of photos of snow sculptures of animals, igloos and people of all different sizes and shapes.  What a creating group we are involved with.

Adult awards, congratulations to all who have received any award during the year, all are deserving and there are more adults out there who need to complete their training to receive good service awards.  Especial congratulations to a very special couple, Anne and Bruce McLaren on their Silver Wolf Awards.

Youth awards, it’s especially pleasing to hear about or present so many young people with top awards for their section.  This has been really difficult to achieve in the last 12 months with the restrictions we have been operating under, congratulations to all of the recipients and of course, the leaders and parents in supporting them.

Permits have continued to be awarded for adults throughout the year.  A few have been more challenging than other but we need to keep these progressing to allow Scouting to continue to offer this unique program to our young people.

We’ve also appointed a new District Commissioner in Kincardineshire and we hope to announce a new DC in Deeside in January, welcome to the Regional team.

Looking forward, who knows what will be in front of us but at present, we hope to continue to be able to offer Face to Face Scouting to all our young members, keep camping, get back to planning international trips and of course select our representatives for the World Scout Jamboree.  Not to mention the wonderful Jamborette at Blair Atholl in 2022.

We’ve hosted our first District Recovery workshop which was ran by Scouts Scotland and one more to be held in January for the remaining districts.  This is the first step in supporting the Districts to allow them to in turn support the Groups in identifying and prioritising the actions that need to be taken through the next couple of years.

As long as we continue to work together, be considerate to others and listen to their opinions and ideas we can continue to thrive as a movement and provide a wonderful start in life for our young people.  We really do ‘prepare young people with skills for life’

Finally, thankyous, I’ll never be able to thank everyone I should but a BIG THANKYOU to the Regional team, all the adult volunteers in the Districts and Groups, all our youth members and of course the parents and guardians of these wonderful young people.

Dougie Simmers

Regional Commissioner

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N.B Photo taken prior to 2020 for a different award.

Bear Grylls honours brave North East young person as an Unsung Hero 2021

  • Theo Harvey, was chosen from over 330 nominations from across the UK by Bear Grylls personally to be one of 20 “Bear Gryll’s Unsung Heroes 2021” The award scheme, created by Grylls honours specifically young people that have shown exceptional kindness, courage and resilience over the past year
  • In late 2016, Theo was diagnosed with a brain tumour, despite his ongoing challenges, he has raised £8,500 for Guide Dogs for the blind and hopes to be placed with a dog of his own in time to increase his independence alongside his commitment to Scouts.
  • Theo, a Scout from 1st Alford Scout Group was recently honoured with a Cornwell Scout Badge. An award in respect of pre-eminently high character and devotion to duty, together with great courage and endurance.

Theo Harvey, a young person from 1st Alford Scout Group was honoured as one of Bear Grylls Unsung Heroes for 2021,  young people from across the UK, were chosen from hundreds of nominations, put forward by local volunteers, on the basis of their story. Bear Grylls, Chief Scout for the movement, personally picked twenty young people in Scouts who’ve shown Scouts values, kindness, courage and the Scout’s ‘never give up’ spirit.

‘You guys are the pinnacle; the elite,’ Bear Grylls told the Unsung Heroes. ‘We’re all part of the same Scout family, but each of us have different skills, talents. That’s what makes us strong.’

The Unsung Heroes’ achievements were as varied as they were impressive. Some huge sums for good causes, drew pictures or told jokes for charity. One Scout, Max Woosey, camped out for over 550 days, and raised over half a million pounds for his local hospice. (And he’s still camping now).

Others cycled, climbed and travelled hundreds of miles for charity, all going the extra mile to do something amazing. Some achieved their awards despite facing serious ill ness or losing a close family member, while others were recognised for the calmness and presence of mind dealing with emergencies. 

Theo’s parents David and Wendy added “Theo now lives with complex health issues and has many hospital admissions, but keenly attends scouts . Scouting gives Theo a chance to have adventure and challenge just the same as everyone else despite his sight loss. made possible by his local scout group leader. Theo has enduring strength and a spirit to never get discouraged we are very proud of him."

Grylls recognised the efforts of 14 year old Theo, who went through a incredibly difficult life changing events but keep on going and fundraised an exceptional £8,500 for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Theo was diagnosed with a brain tumour mid-2016 and had to undergo extensive surgery to reduce the tumour where he irretrievably lost his sight.

Theo kept up with local Scouting. He has been able to engage in adventurous activities and camps over the years alongside fundraising for Guide Dogs for the Blind through craft fayres, sponsored cycling and other events, raising over £8,500. Hearing personally about Theo’s

On getting the award, Theo said “Thank you for the Award I`m so pleased to receive it, and for being chosen from so many. I am just doing what I enjoy, I don`t see myself as a Hero just an ordinary boy and a Scout, who is looking to help others  because that's what Scouts do for other people."

Dougie Simmers, Regional Commissioner for North East Scotland Scouts commented: “To be recognised by our Chief Scout Bear Grylls is a fantastic achievement for Theo, he has gone to great lengths to show that never give up spirit in his daily life. Theo is a shining example of how we give young people not only the skills for life but the personal qualities and values that employers, colleges, universities and society need more than ever right now.”

Bear Grylls commented on those who received awards “What an example they are to so many of us. How we conduct ourselves in tough times really matters. Keep people close to you, keep positive, keep kind, and keep that never give up spirit.’

Scouts is the largest co-educational youth movement in the country. You can join today by visiting If you would like to donate towards Guide Dogs for the Blind, see

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Looking back on our Summer of Play Success

  • As part of the Summer of Play scheme, the Scottish Government provided an initial £5000 to Scout Groups across the North East of Scotland with three-hundred and eighty young people from Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray across twenty-two Scout Groups benefitted from the scheme.
  • North East Scotland Scouts agreed to provide a further £4555 funding to support all applications, including 89 volunteers to attend, however the Scottish Government increased the funding by another £5000 last month with another round of applications.
  • 1st Kingswell Scout Group are one of the beneficials of this funding and the fund allowed 22 young people to return to the outdoors at a greatly reduced cost, helping their wellbeing, letting them make memories and learn skills for life.
  • The Association suspended all face-to-face activities in March 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but volunteers delivered an online programme to help their young people cope with the restrictions and not seeing their friends and gave them a wellbeing lifeline.

After eighteen months hibernation due to the lockdown restrictions, 1st Kingswell Scouts returned to Templars Park Aberdeen last month, for an exciting action packed adventurous programme with everything from pioneering, crate stacking, team building tasks to backwards cooking. The young people were ecstatic to return to activities they missed throughout the lockdown period, with a number of young people telling leading volunteers how much they missed their friends, the time outdoors and how the financial injection made a big difference.

On top of reconnecting with the outdoors and learning new skills, the Scouts took part in everything from pioneering with large poles, crate stacking where the young person uses two crates and a team to help them climb as far as possible, team building tasks like problem solving challenges and , backwoods cooking, spoke with Scouts from New Zealand as a group using zoom and a projector and the greatly missed all-important campfire and marshmallows to celebrate their hard work over the weekend.

Another big take-away from the weekend was how the young people felt an improvement in their physical and in particular mental wellbeing, through reconnecting with their friends. The positive health and wellbeing aspects of a Scout camp are myriad: whether it's being outdoors in the fresh air for the weekend, working together with peers on exciting and challenging new activities, learning new skills, or just having fun and relaxing round the campfire with friends, it's a hugely positive experience for young people and volunteers. In a study by the University of Edinburgh, individuals are 15% less likely to suffer from anxiety if they’ve been a Scout or Guide, as organisations that support resilience and social mobility through developing the potential for continued progressive self-education.

Cameron, age 11, a young person with the group said “Getting back to camp with my friends was great and has helped me feel better. I got to learn new things like setting the camp up from scratch, including putting up the dining marquee, and I got to learn how to use knives, axes and saws safely to prepare firewood”

Fran Scorgie, lead volunteer with the group added “The lockdown has had a significant impact on the wellbeing of young people, the young people and leaders in 1st Kingswells were ecstatic to get back to the outdoors for the first time in eighteen months. They camped with their friends while learning new skills for life and it is down to the tireless hard work of our volunteers. Volunteering with the Scouts really does make a difference to young people’s lives, it’s good for your wellbeing, good for your health and good for your CV when you are going for the new job or promotion, it is simply good for you”

Ken Bruce, Chair for North East Scotland Scouts commented “The funding received from the Scottish Government has made an incredible difference to young people across the North East of Scotland. With the funding, all applications across our region were supported, meaning even more young people could get out this summer, spend time outdoors, make memories with their friends, improve their wellbeing and learn skills for life.”

In line with Scottish Government and Youthlink guidance, Scouts is now returning to face to face activities, you can enrol a young person or join as a volunteer today by visiting and filling out an application form.

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NEScout welcomed The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Climate change skills workshop and then headed to COP26

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined a lucky group of Scouts in Glasgow before COP26, where they learned skills about sustainable transport, planet friendly cooking and rewilding with the young people. This involved refurbishing bikes to provide a low carbon option for local commuters, cooking plant based food and making seed bombs. Among those Scouts present at the workshop, was 12-year-old Lewis Howe, a member of 1st Laurencekirk Scout Group from the North East of Scotland. Lewis was chosen as a #OneStepGreener Ambassador after using the skills learned in Scouts to raise awareness of food wastage in schools.

In the lead up to becoming a #OneStepAmbassador, Lewis emailed all schools in Scotland suggesting an action plan to not only reduce food waste but use surplus food to create meals for those in need. He is now working with his scout leaders, local MSP's and his school to push his idea forward and challenge all Scottish schools to put their food waste to better use. Lewis has asked Aberdeenshire Council to consider piloting the scheme at his own school, Mearns Academy in Laurencekirk and is waiting to hear back. In the meantime, Lewis is starting to fundraise to buy equipment needed for the pilot.

Lewis, 12, said “I met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who were really interested in my project and asked lots of questions.  They knew I had cycled 5k for 50days during lockdown to raise money to put towards an end of lockdown activity so we talked about that. They asked me what badge was the hardest to earn and I said it was my environmental. We made seed bombs and spread them in the grass. It was great to meet them, they were very nice and it was a fun afternoon”.

Guiding the Royal’s visit in Glasgow, Scout volunteer Eddie O'Rourke said “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met Scouts taking part in our #PromiseToThePlanet campaign. They were a real inspiration to all the Scouts that are working hard to make changes to protect the planet. It’s great to see the Duke and Duchess work with our young people and recognise that everyone is capable of helping and everyone’s effort is important in the fight against climate change.”

On top of meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lewis attended the COP26 conference in Glasgow to showcase his idea and learn more about what others are doing to help climate change. Lewis met Scouts from all over the world as well as members of the Scouts Community Impact Group.  He also met personally with Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland to discuss his idea.

On his time at COP26, Lewis said “It was good to meet all the other Scouts at COP26, they were really friendly and wanted to hear about what I had been doing.  There was lots to see and do at the green zone and I was really interested in visiting the space4climate exhibition and learning about how space is helping climate change, now and in the future. I would encourage people to make their #promisetotheplanet – if they have an idea put it out there.

Lewis’s Leader Paul Quigley, 1st has been supporting Lewis since the beginning of his project and said “The fact that Lewis has taken on this challenge with mainly his personal initiative shows that he is keen and passionate about climate change and reducing food waste. We are proud within our role as leaders. Lewis is a true role model for youths and even us leader to keep learning and improving the world around us by our actions.”

The Scout’s #PromiseToThePlanet” encourages 57 million Scouts from nearly every country in the world to take a stand and work towards a better world by taking action to reduce climate change. The initiative covers four key areas: recover, recycle, reduce and rethink Scouts in India have been replanting forests, in Ivory Coast clearing plastics from beaches and solar water disinfection in Mexico.

North East Scotland Scouts commented, "Lewis has worked exceptionally hard to drive his initiative through from an idea right through to clear actions on his part. Using the skills learned during his time with Laurencekirk Scouts, Lewis is a shining example of what it means to live by our organisation's values and how we as an organisation, help young people to do more, be more and share more by giving them the skills needed for life."

From tackling climate change to learning about morse code, Scouts offer over 200 adventurous activities and the chance for people of all ages to be more, do more and share more. Scouts gives people of all ages to learn the skills needed for life and to have one in a lifetime opportunities, both at home and abroad. You can enrol your young person or join as an adult volunteer by checking out today and filling an application.

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