Scouts: Men leading by example

19 November 2020

International Men’s Day celebrates men leading by example. This year, the theme is ‘Better health for men and boys’, so to mark the occasion, we asked some of our Leonardo colleagues who volunteer as Scout leaders how they think Scouting helps make a difference for boys.

The Boy Scout movement was founded at the beginning of the last century, following the publication of Scouting for Boys, which was a training manual for self-instruction in observation, tracking and woodcraft skills, as well as self-discipline and self-improvement. Its unexpected popularity inspired young boys throughout Britain to follow its principles. Since 1908, it is estimated that the book has sold over 100 million copies, and Scouting is now a worldwide movement that welcomes young people of all genders, beliefs and backgrounds.

Scott Sullivan is an Assistant Scout Leader at Holy Trinity Scout Group whose full-time job is as an Assistant Chief Project Engineer on the AW101 helicopter programme at our Yeovil site. He believes Scouting offers a wholesome pastime in the great outdoors, away from screens. “Scouting makes a difference by teaching a wide range of skills, all of which are underpinned by the core values of team work, learning through doing and having fun. I think it provides a back to nature experience, encouraging a greater respect for our environment and the importance of keeping a sense of ‘real world’ away from the PlayStation and Xbox.” 

These thoughts are echoed by Tony Humphries, Head of Quality Integrated Sensing & Protection at our Basildon site and County Training Manager at Essex Scouts. “Scouting enables you to learn through practical experiences,” says Tony, “and gives young people the chance to take part in activities that may not be generally available to everyone.”

Reflecting on his own time as a boy in the organisation, Scott recalled: “Our Scout Leader, ‘Skip’, played a massive part in shaping me as the person that I am today. I learned to be a good team player, to be open and honest, and to remain calm when things are not going so well.” 

Having a male role model outside of immediate family, and how they can encourage positive relationships between young people and adults, is something that both Tony and Scott identify with. “Leading by example is obviously an important part of the Scout movement,” says Scott, “and it is an ideal that we share with International Men’s Day. However, this is something that often works both ways, with the young people’s courage and ingenuity often inspiring us as Scout leaders.”

Sam Newton, Inspector/Fitter Dynamic Systems R&O at Leonardo, and a Scout leader for over 20 years, expands on this point. “I started my Scouting adventure at the age of 6 as a Beaver. I progressed through Cubs, Scouts, and Venture Scouts, and throughout my time, the leaders were definitely strong male role models. I feel there is a huge value in having a positive male role model because, for example, some family setups won’t have one, and Scouting could be the best access.”

“In the Scouting context, the young people will only respond if they respect you and that is a respect earned,” adds Scott. “A friendly, firm but fair character is have to treat others as you’d expect to be treated. Boys need to like who you are.”

When considering what advice they had to offer young men, there was consensus from our Scout leader colleagues that courage and respect were important parts of life. “Be more adventurous and give it a go. If it doesn’t scare you, then it won’t be fun,” advises Tony. “The best learning comes from a failed attempt.” Sam agrees: “Go for it, give everything a go and enjoy yourself.”

“Be open, be honest and follow your dreams,” continues Scott. “Plan for the future, but live for now. Be courteous and respectful of people’s opinions, life choices, decisions, and indecisions.”