I write this after a day that started anxiously for most of the Damboree Team, I am quite pooped, it has to be said

John May had submitted a question to the Scout Association AGM which asked a question regarding building on the #crowdscouting success of Damboree, how can HQ support grass roots driven intiatives. The question was:-

“Noting the success of Damboree earlier this summer, that enabled 13499 young people to camp, many for the first time, and 175 leaders to achieve their Campsite Nights Away Qualifications, what concrete actions can Headquarters take to encourage and support grassroots ‘crowd Scouting’ initiatives? Or, to put it another way, how do we ensure that the development of great Scouting uses a percolator model, rather than just a cafetiere one?”

So as you can imagine we were a bit nervous on how the question and the response would go down. But more on that later.

One thing to remember that the Damboree Team has never been all in the same place at the same time, only by virtue of social media had we spoken, and very occasionally by phone, so when we amassed ourselves, well some of us, in the camp square, it was big hugs all round.

John May arrived, Badger issued him with the team neckwear, we posed for a photo.

Right to left we have: Crayons (Sam.E), Badger (Ben.K), El Presidente (John.M), Grand High Meerkat (Andy S.), Scottish Office (Andy.T) and Grumpy (Stuart.B(me)).

Anyhoo, we went to visit Karuna Badges, and say hello to Leo and Suzanne, cue more hugs. I parked the frame and my bag, and we mooched off in the direction of the AGM

At the AGM tent, we managed to get more caffeine, and an on-brand cookie…..which was really rather nice

So seats were mandatory, no hiding or standing at the back, so we annexed a block, and made the mistake of letting Crayons sit behind us,  so we have another piccie!

As you will all appreciate from your Group, District & County AGMs, they can be a bit dry in terms of topic and delivery. But the team of Matt Hyde, Hannah Kentish and Tim Kidd, with their supporting acts, did their best to make it informative, and insightful, and for me it was.

Next up was lunch,  whilst attempting to get ahead in the queue, we decided to go and see Tim Kidd, introduce ourselves properly as the Damboree Team. We presented Tim with a Gold Badge to go with the Damboree neckwear we’d sent to him earlier in the year, when we were seeking a more formal recognition from HQ.

We think he was a tad pleased. At this conversation he was keen to stress to us that as far as he was concerned the Occasional Badge slot was not, in his view something to be overly precious about, as long as it wasn’t rude. So we’re hoping that for 2019, every County Commissioner will allow the Damboree badge to be worn, because you, and your young people participating, will have earnt it.

LUNCH! Which I must confess I was really rather impressed with, I went for the full fat coke option, I was starting to flag, over lunch we started an informal meeting, chewing over our successes, lessons taught, reviewing aspects we’d like to improve, and how we can take Damboree forwards into 2019.  It helped distract us from waiting for the answer to John’s question.

QnA was next up, so we went back into the tent, and sat line abreast in the back row. and after some preamble from the chair of Trustees, Ann L. the question was read aloud.  Tim was very gracious and supportive of Damboree in his reply, which is broadly quoted as below:

“Thank you, John. Damboree neatly demonstrates the power that our local volunteers have to take action to fix a problem that they see, and to share that initiative to all who are interested.

We need to find ways to positively encourage appropriate initiatives to be taken locally the ‘percolator model’, without HQ having to approve each and every such initiative, because that may well stifle local initiative rather than enable it. Where specific HQ approval needs to be sought, the LONE (Locally Organised National Event) process could be used.

I will discuss this with Team UK and see if there is any practical actions that we can take to encourage these sorts of initiatives and facilitate sharing.”

Tim praised the efforts of the Damboree Team in supporting Beaver Leaders and getting #BeaversInTents, we’re keen to stress that any praise laid on us, is equally shared with the real success story of Damboree, the Gold & Silver Badge Holders who delivered the camping experiences to the thousands of Blue Ninjas who have taken part.

We had a stand up call-out, showing the assembled people who we were, and when Tim mentioned we’d given him a Gold badge, there was an appropriate “OoooOooo” from the floor.

There can now be no doubts we have the moral support from the UK Chief Commissioner, and for that we’re eternally grateful.

From our own discussions, and discussions with others, we appreciate there is no quick solution to supporting #crowdscouting, even Damboree might struggle to fit into the LONE process, because we’re nationally distributed team operating from many counties, but it is hugely encouraging that Team UK will be looking at how they can support initiatives such as ours, which is really yours, to flourish. If Team UK  come knocking, we’ll happily engage with them to overcome the challenges we’ve faced, so the next #crowdscouting intiaitive benefits, and the one after that……

To receive such praise, on your behalf, in front of the national Scout Council is very humbling, and hopefully the recognition at a national level of your efforts encourages you, we know ourselves that the endorsement of the Damboree Team in supporting you in making it happen has encouraged us hugely.

We caught up with the Welsh Office, Clive E.  and then went and responded to an invitation to do an interview on ScoutRadio, and I was trapped alone in the caravan with Beaker, the presenter, and his production supporters.

I was allowed to speak for apparently 10 whole minutes on Damboree, so when that’s been turned into a sound file etc, we’ll share that out.

ScoutRadio were keen to work with us for Damboree 2019, as they were very keen on what you’ve achieved, and would like to get you involved with them when you Damboree next year. We’ll help make that happen.

I wasn’t lynched by the rest of the team when I came out of the studio, so I think I stayed on message…

We then spent the next few hours looking at how we can engage with the other sections, to create a progressive Damboree scheme, and how we can support our British Scouting Overseas brethren to joining the fun.

Our aim remains to support & encourage the Beige Contingent, at all levels of the association; so they can empower our young people to develop #NightsAway #skillsforlife, from that all important first night under canvas. To their first Event Passport as a Scout, as #Damboree evolves from #BeaversInTents to #EveryoneInTents.

We’d also like to note as a team we’re hugely grateful for Milton Keynes Scouts, for allowing us to sit within their district as an Active Support Unit to enable us to continue to deliver Damboree.

A very important post script is required, whilst we were sat chewing over things, as the dusk  started to settle over the Training Ground, we had a visit from Lesley S., who had a gift for our Grand High Meerkat, Andy S. This gift was from Mama Meekat, I think her title is, Sherley S. in South Africa.

The gift was a framed certificate, and stone me if I didn’t need to rush and get some Andrex, next time, warn me eh?

#Damboree #BeaversInTents #BeaversAreScouts_ScoutsCamp #SkillsForLife_BeginsWithBeavers #Damboree2019 #EveryoneInTents #MKScouts