I was delighted to join the Scouts at their reception - 'Skills for Life: Our plan to prepare better futures' - at the Speaker's House in Parliament on Wednesday 23rd May.
The reception focused on how the Scouts could play a part in preparing young people from all backgrounds for the challenges and pressures of an increasingly complex world. With this objective in mind, I was given a range of practical demonstrations from young Scouts in a number of disciplines. Some of these were the kind traditionally associated with the Scouts, such as knot tying and modelling, but others were in science and technology, with one group showing me how to make a lava lamp with Alka-Seltzer tablets.
These innovative demonstrations formed a part of the Scouts' recent rebranding, which has focused on expanding into more communities and diversifying the skills bases that are built for young people. Whereas the Scouts was previously seen as the preserve of the male children of wealthier families, it is now a thriving national community made up of people from all genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. It is also now a group that offers skills that can feed into varied careers and pursuits and is less specifically focused on outdoor practical skills (though obviously these still play a big part).
It was an uplifting experience to hear about all of these positive changes and to see the genuine pride of Scout leaders when talking about the positive impact that they are having on young children's lives. The Scouts is a great institution here in the UK and now it is also a modern community that prepares young people for a changing world.