Scouts in Scotland bounce back with biggest growth for 80 years

Scouts in Scotland bounce back with biggest growth for 80 years

27 April 2022

We continue to bounce back and recover from the pandemic, as reflected in today’s membership figures with almost 35,000 young people taking part in Scouts across Scotland.

Today we announce that Scouting in Scotland has grown by 11.8% – our biggest youth membership growth for 80 years, since World War Two.

Last year, despite everyone’s efforts in very challenging circumstances, a number of young people decided to step back from Scouts. Our youth membership figures dipped to 31,000 young people taking part in 2021.

Fast forward to today, and our huge rise in youth membership is thanks to amazing efforts from all of our volunteers to get young people meeting and enjoying safe programmes face-to-face again.

We know how important Scouts is to our young people, especially during the past few years.

Isla MacLean, from Lanark told us:

“Meeting up with my Scouting friends was so important after the first lockdown. We had virtual meetings and camps whilst we were stuck at home but getting outside and seeing other young people face to face was so good for my happiness and mental health. When exams and other things were cancelled, Scouting kept going. I even managed to complete a Duke of Edinburgh’s expedition – with restrictions in place of course – but it was amazing to be achieving and having fun.”

We also spoke to Connoll Worling from Rosyth, who said:

“The pandemic made it really hard to meet people as we were at home for so long and then the idea of being with lots of people afterwards was actually quite overwhelming. Going to Scouts, especially as a Young Leader helped my confidence as we did things in smaller groups than in school. Being part of something, learning leadership skills and doing things I missed out on during lockdown has been lots of fun. I think young people like me really need Scouting now more than ever!”

Last year also saw us launch Squirrels, our brand new Section for four to five year olds, which is growing quickly.

Our waiting list in Scotland now sits at almost 6,500 young people. With so many young people wanting to join it’s clear we need even more adult volunteers to inspire young people and help them learn skills for life.

Despite having 11,000 adults volunteering across Scotland, there’s always room for more. And it’s not always about the benefits to young people, by volunteering with the Scouts it encourages you to try something new, make new friends, to keep your body and brain active and do something good for your community – in short it’s good for you!

Andrew Sharkey, Chief Commissioner of Scotland said:

“I have never been more proud of Scouting than over the past couple of years. Volunteer leaders have really made a difference to the lives of young people across Scotland. The incredible growth this year shows how important it is for Scouting to be there, providing young people with opportunities to make new friends, learn skills for life and make a positive difference in their local communities. When you talk to our leaders you hear the same story of how Scouting has been good for them too through the pandemic. Volunteering, getting outside and learning new skills, whatever your age, is great for mental health and wellbeing. There’s lots of different roles available and I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to get in touch. It’s a great feeling knowing you are making a difference to a young person’s life – they deserve it now more than ever.”

Supporting our members to recruit more volunteers

There’s a number of ways to get support in recruiting new adults, such as:

Attending the UK Scouts volunteer recruitment workshop – an online webinar series designed to help you from the start of your recruitment journey to the end. The series looks at preparing to recruit, making the ask and what to do once they’re ready to start. You can sign up online.

Try out a #GoodforTwo programme – a new way to encourage adult volunteers to bring friends along to Scouts to give it a try. It’s a tried and tested method for young people, so why not give it a go with your friends?

Using ready-made resources to help you to grow Scouts – we’ve got a range of tips and tools to help you reach out to new volunteers, returning volunteers, young people and to help you connect with your community. Find out more on the 'Growing Scouts' pages.

If you’re interested in setting up a Squirrel Drey in your group, speak to your District Commissioner.

Today’s news is a big positive step in our journey to recover our membership numbers from the effect of the pandemic. There’s still a long way to go to help make sure we’re offering all young people who want to join Scouts the fun, adventure and skills they need for later in life.

As always none of this would be possible without the efforts of our amazing volunteers – thank you for all you continue to do.