Over the past five years Scouts Victoria’s membership has grown more than 20 per cent, and it’s no wonder with 'proud and passionate' Group Leaders like Gary Park spreading the word.
Joining as a Cub at the age of eight and being in the Scouts up until 25, Gary already had a long history with the Scouts when he re-joined seven years ago, as a father of three.
‘The best thing about Scouting is the way you can involve the whole family. My three children are youth members and my wife is a Joey Scout Leader. We often all go away on Scouting activities and I could not be more proud of how Scouting has assisted with our children’s development,’ Gary says.
'Be prepared for new adventure' is the Scout’s catchcry, and there are certainly a diverse range of adventures and experiences to be prepared for, according to Gary.
He has taken more than 300 teenagers to New Zealand for activities including white water rafting, sailing, rock climbing and canoeing, rafting down the Murray and has provided assistance in the aftermath of the 2009 bushfires and recent flood recovery efforts in Chiltern.
On a weekly basis, Gary volunteers for an average of up to five hours a week at the Mt Evelyn Scout Group, helping to deliver a weekly program to more than 180 members aged six to 26, and running weekend camping trips.
‘Over the past seven years with Scouting I have personally met over 500 local families and been given the privilege of developing their children through Scouting,’ Gary says.
‘It is very rewarding to know that you have helped connect these families and youth together through a common interest. More importantly I firmly believe that young people are our future and shape what our communities will be. I am continually being thanked by our parents for the positive development they see in their children and the expanded friendship groups they have.’
On a personal level one of Gary’s most memorable occasions has been seeing his son receive his Queen’s Scout Award at Government House, and he himself being awarded a Scouting Good Service Award from the Governor of Victoria.
But it isn’t the accolades that motivate Gary.
‘Volunteering with people for a common cause and goals builds strong friendship and support groups which I found to help build extra skills and improve my personal confidence. It’s the best way to connect to your community and we can all make a positive difference to world in which we live.’
The most successful Scout Groups are those where there is strong community support. Scouts volunteers are enthusiastic people from all walks of life who share a love of adventure and a desire to enrich young people’s lives.
What many people don’t realise is that there are plenty of flexible ways to get involved with or contribute to their local Scout Group without having to make the time commitment required for a uniformed leadership role.
To become a part of the growing worldwide Scouting movement which has helped shape the development of young people for over 100 years, visit www.vicscouts.com.au