Scout group enters golden anniversary year with 100-strong waiting list

Woodbridge Sea Scouts

Woodbridge Sea Scouts prepare to undertake water activities. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: BARRIE HAYTER/ 5TH WOODBRIDGE SEA SCOUTS

A scout leader believes the COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled interest in the movement, resulting in his troop building a waiting list of 120 youngsters. 

Barrie Hayter, leader of 5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts, said families had been spending more time doing outdoor activities during the lockdowns, which the scouts specialise in, as his troop prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. 

He said: “There seems to be a lot more interest in joining the scouts and learning those extra skills and doing those extra activities. It has renewed parents’ interest in getting their kids doing things outside and the scouts is a good, organised, safe way for their young kids to do activities outside.” 

5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts

5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts undertaking rowing activities. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: BARRIE HAYTER/ 5TH WOODBRIDGE SEA SCOUTS

Word of mouth is another important factor in the rising interest and Mr Hayter said the scouts invited their friends along, which had swelled numbers. 

A new scout section has been started on Mondays to accommodate demand and there are plans to open a cubs section for children aged between eight and 10, with the possibility of adding a Beavers section for six to eight-year-olds. 

Meanwhile, there are also plans to extend available evenings and double the size of the scouts’ home near Tide Mill on the River Deben to allow two sections to meet at the same time. 

Work is currently taking place with the owners of Woodbridge Boatyard to build an extension using containers modified at a Melton site. 

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To celebrate the special anniversary, a series of events will be taking place throughout the year, including during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on June 2 when all youth, adult members and volunteers will be joining a big water session to get everybody on the water at the same time. 

5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts

5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts doing sailing activities - Credit: BARRIE HAYTER/ 5TH WOODBRIDGE SEA SCOUTS

There will be a barbecue and opportunities for past members to visit and see the current capabilities and leaders. 

The 110-strong sea scouts, formed in 1972, participate in many water-based activities and learn water skills safely, including sailing, rowing, kayaking and canoeing, while they also use power boats. 

They also undertake hikes and expeditions which teach them about the safe use of fires, axes, saws and knives. 

Mr Hayter added: “What I would say is that the scouts teach children skills that the schools don’t. At schools, you don’t get to use many of the skills you learn in the scouts.” 

To contact the troop about the building, fundraising, volunteering or celebrations, email Mr Hayter at gsl@5wss.org.uk.