Lockdown dreariness sparks the fastest growth in number of Scouts since World War Two


Lockdown dreariness sparks the fastest growth in number of Scouts since World War Two as children rush to get outdoors again – with 90,000 young people waiting to join the movement

  • The number of Scouts has grown at the fastest rate since the Second World War 
  • It is because kids are keen to get outdoors again after dreariness of lockdown 
  • Post-pandemic boom means there is now 90,000 young people waiting to join 
  • Girlguiding is also booming, with a 20% surge in membership over the past year

The number of Scouts has grown at the fastest rate since the Second World War because children are keen to get outdoors again after the dreariness of lockdown.

The post-pandemic boom for Scouts means there is now 90,000 young people waiting to join the movement.

Girlguiding is also booming, with a 20 per cent surge in membership over the past year and a waiting list of 56,882.

Covid and the lockdowns highlighted the health benefits of being outside. The chance to learn useful skills and have fun outdoors following months of restrictions has caused a national upturn in interest for these traditional youth activity groups.

The number of Scouts has grown at the fastest rate since the Second World War because children are keen to get outdoors again after the dreariness of lockdown

The number of Scouts has grown at the fastest rate since the Second World War because children are keen to get outdoors again after the dreariness of lockdown

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, lst Viscount Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts (1908), Girl Guides (1910) and Wolf Cubs (1916). He is seen here in Scout uniform

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, lst Viscount Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts (1908), Girl Guides (1910) and Wolf Cubs (1916). He is seen here in Scout uniform

An undated picture of British General Lord Baden-Powell (centre-right) surrounded by the members of the Boy Scout movement in Hartfordshire during a holiday

An undated picture of British General Lord Baden-Powell (centre-right) surrounded by the members of the Boy Scout movement in Hartfordshire during a holiday

‘Lockdown was a tough period for young people,’ said Scout spokesman Simon Carter. ‘They couldn’t go anywhere. There is now more zeal for the outdoors.

‘Parents want their children to get outside, learn new skills and have fun and scouting provides the opportunities for those types of experiences.

‘Adults also get a huge amount from volunteering. Being a Scout volunteer is good for their mental wellbeing, good for the young people they work with and good for local communities.’ 

Membership of the Scouts, not including adult helpers, has increased by 16 per cent over the past year from 362,668 to 421,852. It represents a faster growth rate than at any point for 80 years, although it did follow a 24 per cent drop the year before caused by Covid.

The resurgence in the Scouting movement, formed in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell, also means there is a shortage of volunteers to help run groups.

Membership of the Scouts, not including adult helpers, has increased by 16 per cent over the past year from 362,668 to 421,852

The resurgence in the Scouting movement, formed in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell (pictured), also means there is a shortage of volunteers to help run groups

Membership of the Scouts, not including adult helpers, has increased by 16 per cent over the past year from 362,668 to 421,852. The resurgence in the Scouting movement, formed in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell (right), also means there is a shortage of volunteers to help run groups

Chief Scout Bear Grylls said recently: ‘The Scouts play a fundamental role in the lives of young people, and it is fantastic to see that acknowledged through an increase in membership after a tough couple of years.

‘The pandemic proved the importance of coming together and it’s great to see Scouts enjoying new experiences and learning vital skills for life again.

‘But, as we build back our membership, we need the help of more adult volunteers so that we can continue providing opportunities for many more prospective young Scouts.’

Scouting activities are also seen as a valuable way to pro- tect young people from mental health issues.

British General and founder of the Scout Association Sir Robert Baden-Powell (1857 - 1941) at the Scout Rally at Plashett Park, East Ham in October 1928 (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

British General and founder of the Scout Association Sir Robert Baden-Powell (1857 – 1941) at the Scout Rally at Plashett Park, East Ham in October 1928 (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Lord Baden-Powell addressing the Cubs and Scouts during a Chief Scouts Rally in July 1933 (Photo by Sunday Pictorial/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

Lord Baden-Powell addressing the Cubs and Scouts during a Chief Scouts Rally in July 1933 (Photo by Sunday Pictorial/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

A spokesman said research has shown that the benefits of scouting extend into adulthood. By the time Scouts reach the age of 50 they are 15 per cent less likely to suffer anxiety or mood disorders.

The Girlguiding movement, which covers a range of ages from four to 18 and includes Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers, has seen a similar trend.

Since 2021 membership of four to 18-year-olds has increased from 239,22 to 290,468. There has also been 184,000 enquiries from girls – the highest since 2015.

Angela Salt, Girlguiding chief executive, repeated the call for volunteers and said: ‘After a challenging couple of years, it is really great to see the opportunities Girlguiding offers acknowledged through the significant increase in those wanting to join us.’

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