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Speaking Up for Scouting

posted 27 Feb 2012, 14:00 by Jack Fletcher
Sometimes an opportunity comes your way which you just can’t say no to (even if it means giving up a lie in). Last weekend, I attended Scouts Speak Up, an event for young people to develop their media skills and to ‘speak up about scouting’. This is my adventure...


I was awake unusually early; but then I was on the 5.30am (and rather empty) train out of Newcastle off to meet a team of scout media experts, who are going to help me (and other scouts) present scouting to the world. As the train hurtled through the borders, I grew ever more excited, although a little anxious about the prospect of changing train at Edinburgh. There was little time to navigate the station, but I climbed aboard the next train to Inverkeithing to meet Lizzie and Fozzy who were waiting for me on the platform. I was then whisked away to Fordell Firs campsite (Scotland’s Scout HQ) to find 20 other nervous (but excited) young people, like myself, waiting for the weekend to begin.

Our first task was to ‘meet a new friend’, good job I’m great with names, with 20 to learn in a few minutes! Next were introduced to the team who would lead the weekend: Fozzy and Andrew, media officers for the Scout Association, Jack, a campaign manager for the Scout Association, Lizzie and Matt, volunteers from Hampshire and Essex and Candy who is the communications officer for Scottish Scouts.

At 10am, the fun really began as everyone was split into two groups, led by Lizzie and Matt. I was in Lizzie’s group (Team Lizzie). We then split off into our groups to learn how to express myself over the radio - it challenged me to speak up and explain that scouting is a movement, and is growing, and, it’s not just for boys; there’s over 100,000 girls involved with scouting in the UK alone! Learning how to do all of this made some rather hungry campers, and so it was time for lunch!

After a quick lunch, it was time to launch a campaign (almost literally) and Team Lizzie chose ‘Votes for 16 Year Olds’. We learnt all how to plan a campaign, on local, national and international levels ‘PR is everything’ was the buzz phrase of the session. Having planned our campaign, we presented our work to the other group and the rest of the leaders who were hugely supportive. By the end of the session, and after the 5am start, the room needed a gentle wake-up call, Jack made us all run like horses in the Grand National for just a few seconds to bring us back to life. The next challenge for Team Lizzie was to present an issue of choice to the rest of the team, this activity was quick, and I received some really useful feedback about how to improve my presentational skills.

A quick cup of tea followed, before we headed off to Fozzy’s activity where he had turned himself into a journalist (hat and all) and for the next hour we were interviewed by him about a recent event, I chose Frostie:24 and he said he would ‘love to have been there’, which is testimony to a great county event!

Dinner was next, and, then a rather Scottish surprise... Andrew had arranged a highland dancing group to come and see us, to show us some of their moves. It was surprisingly skillful, but because dancing really isn’t my strong suit , I felt a bit let down by my two left feet. Fozzy decided to sneak out and find out about the ‘ghosts’ of the campsite and enticed us to the ‘ghost’s lair’ following the last dance, we all followed and got the biggest fright ever, when the ‘ghost’ looked very similar to Jack.

An early morning (at least not 5am) followed an early night; Team Lizzie picked up a new (surprise) campaign to ban the ‘mosquito’ alarms outside of public places. We used what we’d learnt in the past day to come up with a whole new, more in depth, campaign and then present it using different means of media to the entire group. It was incredibly fun and challenging, but I also enjoyed hearing other people’s views on the subject.

We wrapped up the weekend with some fake TV Interviews, I was given some handy tips to take with me (such as that there are up to 12 people behind the scenes of BBC Breakfast) and I’m looking forward to being called up for an interview although it’ll be incredibly nerve-wracking.

The Scout Association team rounded off the weekend and before I knew it, I was back on the train to Newcastle, (thankfully no changes this time) as I sped south. What a busy weekend!

So after a weekend of campaigning, interview preparation and early mornings, I can say that I’ve been ‘Fozzy Trained’. A huge thanks to everyone involved in offering this opportunity to me, I’m looking forward to ‘talking up scouting’ in the media and in the community.
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