Give it up!

26th August 2005 at 01:00
Camping, hiking and you get to wear a woggle. Jill Lewis has no regrets about becoming a Cubs leader

ill Lewis, 47, teaches pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties at Victoria community technology school in Crewe

Volunteer role

Arkela for 1st Marchwiel and Pentremaelor Cubs; Wrexham district team leader, and young leader trainer.

What inspired you to volunteer?

I got nabbed 10 years ago when my eldest son joined the local Beaver pack and I was encouraged to become assistant leader. I decided that if I was going to do it, I would do it properly and got involved in all the training with a friend.

Did you receive any training?

Every leader has to do at least five hours of training a year to keep up to date on things such as child protection and first aid. The Scout training is in many ways in advance of teacher training, as it has dealt for a long time with the psychology of children, how to handle them, how to arrange them into the most effective groups, that sort of thing.

How much time do you spend volunteering?

I can't really put a figure on it. It's officially an hour a week when the cubs meet, but some months it can feel like you're never at home. But when I go on camps the children have always come with me.

What do you enjoy the most?

I have always been an outdoors person, so I love all the activities: the camping and hiking. Although you are responsible for a group of children all the time, the care is shared out and you never work in isolation.

....and the least?

The paperwork does get me down at times, but I understand that I always have to be accountable. You just have to keep on top of it. I explain to others who might ask "why do I have to do this?" that they are looking after children and it's as much about their protection as the child's.

Has the experience changed you?

I doubt I would be spending so much times outdoors without the Cubs. It has also influenced my boys' lives as they are very involved in Scouting. The eldest is training to be a leader himself. It has given them skills and confidence, which means I don't have to worry about them as much as I might.

Has volunteering affected your working life?

Only in that some of the skills you need are the same working with children, whether they're in school or out.

Do you encourage others to volunteer?

I am always trying to encourage other parents to become involved, as Scouting is desperately short of adult leaders. Many can give a little time, but most have lives that are just too busy for long-term commitment.

www.scoutbase.org.uk; www.yearofthevolunteer.org

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