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Scout troops move with times as numbers grow; Shortage of helpers forces many to wait.

Byline: BY LAURA DAVIS Daily Post Staff

MERSEYSIDE Scout groups have seen their largest rise in numbers for 22 years.

Figures released today show a 2.9% increase in the number of children and adults joining the Merseyside Scout Association.

An additional 7,800 members have joined the 214 groups of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts across the county.

The figures also show that, as scouting has grown across the region, female membership has increased by 10.3% since 2007.

Andrew Parle, a Scout leader from 1st Walton-on-the-Hill group, said the increase was because Scouting had moved with the times and adapted to the lives of young people.

Mr Parle said: "Scouting today is much more than just outdoor adventures and badge work. While we still teach survival and practical skills, we have updated our badge scheme so it now includes street sports such as skateboarding and computer skills.

"The movement has helped get rid of its old outdated image, and Scouting is exciting and a fantastic way for young people to spend their time."

Membership has been steadily increasing across Merseyside since 2005 with the biggest growth in numbers in the Explorer Scouts (14-18 age range).

This has been attributed to the introduction of new activities and the success of last year's Scouting Centenary.

In January of this year, 40 new badges were introduced including Snow Sports.

In the last year, waiting lists have grown by nearly 3,000, reflecting the severe shortage of volunteers needed to keep the movement going.

Birkenhead is officially hailed as having launched the world's first two Scout troops on January 27, 1908, after Sir Robert Baden-Powell gave a lecture at its YMCA (now the Primark store in Grange Road).

laurasharpe@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Explorer scouts from St Helens and Rainhill including Sam Rayner, 14, being invested by Alan Savery at Tawd Vale Scout Camp Pictures: ANDREW TEEBAY/ at190408ascouts-1; Andrew Lavin, 17, with Explorer Scout leader Carl Latham, clearing a new camp site Code: at190408ascouts-2
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 21, 2008
Words:336
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