Nurturing a culture of support in Scouting


John Watmore


It has often been said that if we all formed a circle and threw our troubles into the middle each and everyone of us would take our own back.

A theoretical exercise impossible to actually perform in reality yet so often we pass judgement on each others issues based on what? A perception, an assumption, guesswork of what we see or hear or, at least, what we think we see or hear of others trials and tribulations? Interpretation served by misunderstanding and poor communication affords all manner of dispute and conflict. Can we really walk in other peoples shoes? Would it reveal appropriate and useful insight even if we could, we are still us not them after all.

Do we really look, do we really listen or is it all just white noise and blurred vision? Can we really help those who will not help themselves? Are we trying to help them to do something they inherently do not want to do but until they reach breaking point are too reserved or stubborn to say so? Then it’s too late because escalation has occurred in the background, unnoticed or ignored, and any help or support offered is instead seen as intervention or interference. So another layer is added to the problem rather than resolving the root cause.


We convince ourselves that we understand other peoples troubles and can provide the answer but if that were true, then, when standing in that circle we should have no problem in picking up any of the bundles in the centre. No one wants other peoples troubles, god knows we don’t want our own but if we are to successfully coexist, and that is all we can reasonably expect anything else is a bonus, then we are going to have to learn when to ask for support, how to give it and most importantly how to accept it for what it is; support. Like any malady early diagnosis is essential in order to identify the best treatment and convince the patient that it’s in their own best interest and that of those around them.


Support is not the answer, it’s not the destination, nor the resolution. True support is the journey, the vehicle, the route. It is an enabler, a method, a process or a procedure. Most of all though it is aware, informed, understanding and, moreover, compassionate. It provides the tools to build a pathway but the navigation and destination remain the responsibility of those seeking support. Only we ourselves can truly determine the outcomes we desire and that is why it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help to enable that to happen. In fact, asking for support will become a strength a recognition of the gaps that exist in our own ability to deliver and where to get what we need to bridge them.


Accepting the support given may require an adjustment, a recalibration of our views and, perhaps, modification of our behaviour. The destination remains the same but the journey to it can take some unexpected twists and turns, hills go up just as much as down to test our skill and stamina and there are junctions requiring decision and direction. Left or right, up and down or straight ahead? Going back or standing still are only temporary states allowing us to review progress, make amendments if possible or necessary and to catch our breath or to restore our resolve.


None of us individually has all the answers but, between us, we may have more than we imagine. Personalities are important traits of who we are but they should not be allowed dominate or destroy the character that distinguishes us and provides our personal code of conduct, our behaviour.

This and our individual and collective passion, honour and integrity will ultimately determine how we behave towards and offer support to each other going forward. Nurturing a culture of support will be crucial not just to sustaining or even growing Scouting in Ireland but will be critical to it’s very survival.

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