Why Do i volunteer?
I suppose the obvious answer is because I enjoy it.
It’s more than that though.
A bit of background first. I currently volunteer as a leader in Scouting Ireland, previous to this I was a leader in the Scouts Organisation in the UK.
How did I get involved? Well 15 to 16 years ago I felt at a loose end I had plenty of free time on my hands and was looking for something constructive to do, when out of the blue someone at work asked me if I would be interested in becoming a leader with her Cub group. I had been a Cub once and by chance it was in the same group she was with so I asked my parents and a few friends what they thought of the idea and they all said I would be good at it and should go for it.
So I thought well why not if I don’t like it I don’t have to carry on with it. Having never thought of working with children I found I actually enjoyed it. I discovered that it opened up opportunities that I probably would not have had. I did a 1st aid course and also became an Air Rifle Instructor, mainly to expand the activities the Cubs I was with at the time could do and also to further myself.
I moved to ireland and although still having the interest never got back into Scouting. That is until my Oldest son was fast approaching six years old. I realised I wanted him to have all the opportunities and experiences i had had as a kid. I remembered sleeping in tents with mates, climbing, sleeping in a disused windmill, sunny summer weekends and and weeks in different parts of the country on camps, kite making, earning badges.
I learnt that the local Scout Group was looking for leaders mainly in Beavers (the youngest age group). So I got in touch, I had to fill in my Garda (Police) check forms and do the child protection training and I was in. That was about five years ago. For the last four and half years I have run the Beaver Colony.
Someone once said “it’s only an hour a week” yeah and the rest of it. Sometimes it’s a lot of work keeping track of badges, money, organising weekly activities, other meetings so on and so forth but I love it.
Why do I love it, because as I see it, nearly 30 kids get to try and do stuff they might not normally get to do. Its brilliant watching a child grow and develop over three years from that small quiet shy person, into someone who won’t stop talking, is willing to try just about anything asked of them, who when they first come in to Scouts thinks walking to the car is a bit of a long walk but at the end of three years is happy to walk 10km up and down a mountainside. Why do i love it because i enjoy presenting badges to the Beavers and reminding what they did to earn them and seeing how proud they are of their achievements.
About three years ago three of my Beavers aged about eight and half stood in front of 100 other beavers, cubs, scout and leaders they had never met and presented information about Scouting in the UK. A great achievement more so as all I said them to do was “do you think you can present this at the campfire?” the answer was “yep no problem”. I could not have been prouder.
In September two of these Beavers have the chance to start their Cub Chief Scout Award and become the first ever in our Group to have achieved both the Beaver and Cub Chief Scout Award a truly brilliant achievement.
More recently, we held our first ever camp in tents. Having spent time planning what we would eat and do, who would sleep in what tent, emailing parents and confirming numbers. I then spent two afternoons running around organising the camp, buying food, checking and getting more equipment and taking it to the site.
On the day of the camp the weather was fantastic. We had a hike, food around a big camp fire, relay racers by torch light, and the Beavers chatted in their tents until midnight. I did not sleep and was up and about around 4am having given up trying to. Some Beavers slept in tents for the first time ever. We cooked toast over the fire again in the morning. I think all the leaders went home wanting to go back to sleep. I am sure the Beavers will remember it for some time to come. Total Success, Great memories. That’s why I volunteer.