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As I write this note I have just returned from a few days in Windsor, celebrating Scouting achievement by both Adult Leaders and Queen’s Scouts. I was very proud to see and speak to many of our Queen’s Scouts during the day, and once again have a young Queen’s Scout from Scouts NI Grainne McNulty lead the service in St George’s Chapel. Congratulations to all who took part on the day. There are some St George’s Day Award nominations currently with the Awards Board and I hope to be able to name these great Leaders soon. If you are a Queen’s Scout and have not yet been to Windsor try to get along next year, or if you fancy going back why not try to be a member of the Service Team, Colour Party or Section Leader, we have had someone leading the service for the last 2 years so maybe we can make it 3 in a row.

Back in January we had our own Awards night when it was a pleasure to welcome Tim Kidd to Belfast City Hall. On the night over 100 young people received their Chief Scout’s Gold Award, we also presented Scouts of the World Awards, Explorer Belts and Queen’s Scout Awards. Well done to the Young People who received Awards and to the Leaders who gave up many hours to train them and to give them Skills for Life.

This year’s Census figures at the end of January were disappointing across most of the province and there is work to be done to ensure that more young people get the chance to join Scouting and gain the Skills for Life and enjoy the fun that we no doubt offer. The challenge is out to Counties and Districts to grow the movement in your area in the next 12 months.

Preparations continue by our 2 Units to attend the World Scout Jamboree in July. This great opportunity will also be a challenge physically and mentally on such a large site, so good preparation and team work will be essential. I look forward to visiting them in West Virginia in the summer and wish them a fantastic and unforgettable experience.

We also have 4 Units travelling to Eurojam in Poland in 2020 to represent Scouts NI. Preparations for this are beginning now and we look forward to following their progress over the next year.
Closer to home Explorers will be running our first ever Explorer International Camp, Exsite at Crawfordsburn in early August. Groups from across Europe have signed up for what promises to be 5 days of fun and friendship. Good luck to Andrew Stacey and his team, it’s going to be great.
On the theme of international visits, Network Commissioner David Scott has launched Malawi 2020, hoping to continue the very successful relationship built up this past Summer, and Colin Lammey is leading an Adult only trip to Nepal to visit Everest Base Camp also in 2020.

In celebration of the diverse nature of Scouting we, as an Association, will have some Leaders/Scout Network members take part in Belfast Pride this August. LGBT Young People in Northern Ireland face significant and sobering mental health statistics, so in the spirit of Scouting for all Leaders/Scout Network members can join this year’s parade to demonstrate our openness to all young people regardless of creed, colour or sexual preferences.

Fermanagh County has worked hard over many years to redevelop the Cladagh Glen Camp site and I am delighted to say they have recently opened a fully refurbished centre on the site that is a credit to the hard work of many people. The site is open for business now, and a full reopening Ceremony is due to take place in the Autumn. You should be rightly proud of your achievements in the most Westerly part of our province.

Beavers will be looking forward to Beaver Day on 18th May at Crawfordsburn, and we all hope for a sunny day similar to last year.

Cubs are planning to visit Tayto Park in the Autumn after the very successful event held there several years ago.

Scouts had a very successful Scout Kart Derby on a very cold day at the Eikon Centre, there was a great turn out of karts in many shapes and sizes, and the competition was fierce. We also had 2 more days with the Army doing the Mechanics Badge. This has been very popular with our Young People and we hope to run these courses on an annual basis. This year’s camping competition will depart from tradition and will be run as a lightweight camp with incidents to deal with over the 2 days, this will provide an opportunity for those who do not go in for traditional patrol camping to take part.

Rhiannon and some of the Youth Commissioners have teamed up with Special Olympics and Simon Community to help raise awareness of issues which impact directly on our communities. Watch out for the launch in the Autumn of some resources to help particularly Explorer Scouts understand the work of Simon Community and how we can help in raising awareness of homelessness in our society.

We are also in the early stages of working with Princes Trust to help our young people make career choices which suit their abilities.

I am pleased to say that Rhiannon Wells our Youth Commissioner and Rebecca Dowds have been selected to be part of the National Youth Commissioners role pool, and Rebecca has been added to the project board for Early Years Provision across the UK.

Richard Dorrian our Activities Commissioner, with help from others, ran a very successful introductory course on hill walking instruction. The feedback from those new to the hills who took part was very enthusiastic and by the Autumn we may well have more competent Leaders assessed for Hill Walking permits.

Crawfordsburn continues to provide opportunities for outdoor adventure and the volunteer Wardens teams are always looking for new recruits. If you can give up some time at weekends and want to learn to be an outdoor activity instructor give Richard a call or speak to Sid at the centre.
As we are now into the camping season can I urge you to take care when going out and about with our young people. Please make sure you have the right permits for whatever activity you are going on and for nights away you have informed the appropriate Commissioner of your intentions. Risk assessments are an important part of any activity and when using gas appliances make sure you do so safely, and never inside a sleeping tent. We want you and your young people to have a safe enjoyable and accident free summer. If you are in any doubt about what you might need before heading off consult your District Commissioner or Activity advisor, the Scout Office can help you with contact details if you need them.

As many of you will be aware we have had to recheck some of our Leaders after Access NI discovered that in some cases applicants have not filled in all of their Forenames on their online application. I have to thank the CCs, DCs, GSLs supported by Ken and the Office staff who have spent many hours chasing this up and getting these all checked. My appeal for the future is simple, please ensure if you are checking or re checking Leaders on Access NI that you make sure that ALL the names that appear on the identification documents are put on to the AccessNI online application, as this will avoid any further issues arising.

Can I take this opportunity to wish you all a great summer and whatever you are doing, be it Scouting or otherwise, stay safe, enjoy the break and return ready for more great Scouting adventures in September.

Stephen Donaldson
Chief Commissioner Scouts NI

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