Scouts is the world’s largest youth movement and at Lancing College students are able to join the Minerva Explorer Scout Unit.
Joining at the start of the Fourth Form, the scouts are placed into a patrol with other Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Form students, led by a patrol leader – a Senior student who takes responsibility for leading their team. The unit is led by a team of Explorer Scout leaders from the teaching staff, ably assisted by Senior Patrol Leaders from the Upper Sixth, which provides the older students with opportunities for real leadership.
The unit meets every week and the scouts take part in a variety of activities designed to challenge, and to promote teamwork and leadership, resilience and responsibility. The programme is varied and includes working towards badges such as Survival Skills, Media Relations and Marketing, Mountain Biking, and Hikes Away, as well as taking part in activities such as fire lighting, first aid, board games and team challenges. The progressive award scheme culminates in the prestigious King’s Scout Award – a real achievement that requires dedication and hard work.
The Explorer Scout unit is part of the wider family of scouting, and as such the scouts are able to take advantage of activities on offer from the local Adur Valley District and West Sussex County Scouts. There are also opportunities for national and international travel, such as World Scout Jamborees and scout camps all over the world.
As well as the weekly meetings, there is a range of day trips and activities that the scouts can participate in. These include an annual mountain biking trip along the South Downs that starts in Surrey and finishes at the College. The London Monopoly Run involves members of the unit racing around London competing with other teams of scouts in a real-life version of the popular board game. We have also helped with beach cleaning on Lancing beach, hosted a teddy bears' picnic for local Beaver Scouts (6 to 8 year olds) from the local community, and simulated a multi-casualty first aid incident to hone first aid skills.
As part of their time in the unit, the scouts will take part in a range of overnight camps in the local area. The adventures here include hiking, fire lighting (and cooking over the fire), air rifle shooting, crate stacking, and water activities. We make use of the district’s own scout campsite, Hillside, in the local Sussex countryside. Friendships are made around the camp fire – toasting marshmallows in the embers of the fire long into the night being a memorable highlight.
The most exciting part of camp was the crate stacking activity. I remember my friend and I standing on top of 22 crates with just the support of a rope held on by my teammates. The activity strengthened our team cooperation skills.
During the summer holidays the unit runs a Summer Camp. Recent destinations have included a multi-activity camp at Gilwell Park, the home of UK Scouting.
At the survival skills camp, scouts learn shelter building, finding and filtering water, fire lighting, search and rescue skills and remote first aid. Those who make it to the end of the camp are rewarded with the survival skills activity badge.
One of the first things we learnt was basic knife skills, including safety and sharpening techniques. We learnt how to construct different types of shelter using salvaged materials, and how to build a fire using different lighting techniques like rubbing two sticks together, and using a battery and wire wool.
Scout Law and Promise
At the start of their time in the unit, the Explorer Scouts learn about the movement and reflect on the scout law and promise. At the investiture ceremony held in the first term, they officially join the movement.
Before you become a true scout, you are required to make the scout promise. In Lancing we do this in the school chapel, which is an amazing environment to be in. During the investiture friends can come to support you and watch while you recite the scout promise in front of your fellow Explorer Scouts. It is a great experience to become a member of this huge community. The Scout Promise symbolises the shared scout values all over the world. Scouts unites all types of people with different backgrounds and personalities. Everyone is equally important, and this organisation gives you a good opportunity to become a leader.
On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God and to the King, to help other people, and to keep the Scout Law.
Scouting at Lancing College
The Minerva Explorer unit began in 2020, but the College has a long association with the Scout movement. The 2nd Lancing Scout Troop was based at the College from the 1930s through to the 1960s, and a former Head Master of the College, William Gladstone, went on to be Chief Scout of the UK. The College archive is full of photographs, reports and even an old set of uniform from this time.
The camp was buzzing with many exciting activities such as a zip wire, Jacob’s ladder, pedal go karting and the ‘leap of faith’. My favourite activity was the Jacobs ladder, although it was physically challenging, I thoroughly enjoyed working as a team to climb to the top rung of the ladder. The zip wire was again exciting and thrilling, and the view across London on the ride down was truly spectacular.