Emily, Outdoor Instructor, UK

My Scouting Gap Year

Emily Bellis volunteering with Lattitude in the UK as an Outdoor Activities Instructor

During my final year at high school I knew I wanted to take a gap year, not wanting to go straight to university, but was unsure what I could do for an entire year that would allow me to travel and have an experience like no other.

After a bit of research I came across a company called Lattitude Global Volunteering and, having been involved in Scouting from a young age, the gap program as an outdoor activities instructor immediately appealed to me. I applied to Lattitude and having my extensive Scouting background was offered on a seven-month placement at Great Tower Scout Activity Centre located in the heart of the Lake District in England. This has given me the opportunity to combine my Scouting and love of outdoor activities with taking a break from study.

On February 20 I left to begin my work in the north of England, getting to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have found that in many ways Scouting in England is much the same as it is elsewhere. In the UK there are nine nationally run Scout Activity Centres scattered throughout England, Scotland and Wales. I am volunteering at Great Tower SAC which offers a variety of activities from those more common such as problem solving, archery, air rifles and high ropes, to water activities such as sailing, canoeing, kayaking and power boats, alongside more adventurous activities like caving, mountaineering and ghyll scrambling.

Not only do I get to assist leading groups through these activities but I have also become qualified to lead groups on high rope sessions, archery, air rifles, powerboats and more. In just over one month I’ve been caving in Yorkshire, hiked mountains in the Lake District, visited Gilwell Park, done more high rope activities than ever before, paddled on Lake Windermere and proven that the opportunities I am being given are priceless.

Emily working with Kate Middleton

For example, on March 22 I was lucky enough to work closely with Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, as she attended a training day at Great Tower. The morning consisted of training 20 adult volunteers in skills such as fire lighting and making damper before assisting the volunteers in the afternoon to pass these skills on to a lucky group of Cubs. I was given the opportunity to work closely with the Duchess as I was her tutor for the day.

This only goes to show that you never know where Scouting can take you and what opportunities you may be given. So far my Scouting gap year has led me places I’d never dreamed of going. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and grow (and have more fun than ever before) all thanks to Lattitude Global Volunteering and Scouting worldwide.