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Mark Sowden
/ Categories: Scoutmaster Minutes


If there was one character trait important for a Scout that is not in the Scout Law—what would it be?

At Scoutmaster conferences, perhaps at an Eagle BoR, a favorite question is "If there was one character trait important for a Scout that is not in the Scout Law—what would it be?" Asked at a recent SM conference with a Scout in T312, the answer came "Resilient". A few days later I read an article from Scouting UK written by Bear Grylls—you all know who he is right?..... Bear Grylls is chief Scout and International Ambassador for Scouting. On his most recent TV series he even wears the Scout emblem.

The following are excerpts from articles he wrote on his new National Geographic series and another for Scouting UK.

Bear Grylls once survived a freefall accident that broke his back in three places, he then summited Mount Everest just 18 months later. For Grylls, one of the world's most famous outdoor explorers, the secret to survival isn't special skills or equipment.

"Resilience is a muscle that gets stronger when worked over time and it is in us all, and it can change everything," Grylls said. "Couple that with resourcefulness and courage in the big moments, and you have the winning ingredients for the wild and life."

A lack of that ability to problem-solve spontaneously can make things tough in the wild, Grylls added. One of the most important things to remember in the wild, he added, is that you have to "improvise, adapt, overcome."

Times are hard for our young people. With exam pressures, social media, increased sports competition and the shadow of climate change, they’re under more pressure than ever.

That’s why I’ve made it my mission to help build a resilient generation – the bounce-backers. These are young people equipped with the skills to withstand knocks and setbacks: the true grit, that ‘never give up’ spirit, and resilience to try and try again.

It’s about getting back on our feet when life sometimes kicks us down. It’s about finding that courage within to keep going despite the odds, despite the obstacles.

The six steps to resilience:

As Scouts, we believe in helping young people build those inner reserves of determination and resolve to draw on when times get tough.

Scouting embodies ways to build resilience.

  1. Have a go at something new (and be prepared to fail). I’ve taken teams of young people up mountains, and it’s amazing to see how they dig deep to find the strength they need.
  2. Learning and pass on a new skill. EDGE method—should sound familiar! Succeed in one thing and it gives you the confidence to try another.
  3. Spend a night away, make it two, three or six at Summer camp. When Scouts hike through woods, cook their own meals and wake up from a night under the stars, they feel ready to take on the world.
  4. Speak to someone different to you-an adult in the Troop, a Merit Badge Counsellor. Stepping out of our comfort zones is so important if we want to grow as people.
  5. Tackling something as part of a team is another classic way we build resilience. Remember, you’re not on your own. When times get hard, we’ve got each-others’ backs. Sound like your Patrol? Your Leaders?


But the key thing is to learn how to pick yourself up and start again. In life, things will go wrong. It’s how we bounce back that counts.

Let that be the start, not the finish. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try and try again.

The scout motto is "Be prepared"

To prepare for everything that could happen to us would burden us with too much stuff and worry.

Really the question should be "are you resilient enough to meet the challenges life throws at you?" Can you recover readily, as from misfortune or from unexpected events." Resilience is the ability to accept what has happened, envision a solution and make it happen.

As you practice each of your scout skills, realize that you are building fundamentals abilities that you can use, in creative ways, to confront each challenge you face, and "be prepared for life".

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Mark SowdenMark Sowden

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