Publication date: 1st April 2021
“I resent the idea that people would blame the messenger for the message, rather than looking at the content of the message itself.”
ABOUT "SUSPENDED BY THE SCOUT ASSOCIATION: THE RISE AND FALL OF AN ENTHUSIASTIC SCOUT LEADER"
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"For over 100 years scouting has played a mostly positive part in the lives of countless young people around the world. They have hiked, camped, cooked, played and learnt practical skills based on a vision of Robert Baden-Powell that was developed in Scouting for Boys that was first published in 1908.
It could never had become such a success without an army of volunteers but whilst much is written about what the young people in scouting can achieve for scout leaders it may be a different story.
A seemingly increasingly autocratic Scout Association with its own political agenda despite professing to be non-political, a safeguarding system that acts first and assesses second and a focus on a corporate brand rather than grass-roots scouting, coupled with financial deficits in five of the last six years appears to be alienating a large number of volunteers on which it relies leading some to wonder whether The Scout Association is any longer fit for purpose.
Scout leaders find it difficult to speak out with a suspend first, investigate later culture in response to criticism but now one has broken ranks following an angelic encounter.
This is his story.
It will make you laugh, cry or get angry; maybe all three."
BE PREPARED - FOR HELL!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 June 2021
5 out of 5 stars
"DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT BECOMING A SCOUT LEADER BEFORE READING THIS BOOK."
Don’t even think about becoming a Scout Leader before reading this book.
Once you do, you’ll realise why your worthy intentions of helping young people would be best directed towards other youth organisations.
This is because Hemming-Clark successfully exposes something that I also discovered after 3 decades in Scouting, namely that the (very) well paid management of The Scout Association (TSA) seemingly treat its highly dedicated VOLUNTEERS (who perform 98% of its functions) with total contempt.
Being a Scout Leader is unlike any other ‘hobby’, because this entirely voluntary role takes over the lives of those who do it and also carries massive responsibilities. Many Scout Leaders base important life decisions about their jobs, where they live or what car to buy purely on their role as Scout Leaders. They do this because they care deeply for the young people they work with. But as Hemming-Clark demonstrates, Scouting bosses don’t care how much they care. For once a leader gets on the TSA’s ‘hit’ list (that’s ‘hit’ with an S in front, btw) ‘be prepared’ for hell.
Hemming-Clark’s ‘crime’ was to object – on religious grounds – to the TSA’s promotion of Gay Pride. As a founder of Scouting’s LGBT+ support group, I would disagree with his view. But I would not have suspended him, nor would I have trawled through old files to find ‘dirt’ on him – a favourite trick TSA regularly uses against volunteers. And I certainly would NOT have reported him to his local safeguarding board.
How richly ironic that Scouting bosses accused him of ‘homophobia’. Were these the same bosses who rounded on those who first proposed a TSA LGBT+ support group in 2008?
The TSA template applied to Hemming-Clark seems depressingly similar to that applied to those LGBT+ pioneers. They suddenly found old and unfounded complaints being revived ‘for review’. Allegations were invented – with no evidence offered – and scenarios created around long forgotten events that bore no relationship to reality. One leader even had a ‘safeguarding’ complaint raised about a 30 minute training session they’d conducted over a decade previously using a TSA handbook! Additionally, the obligatory trawling through ancient postings revealed previously innocuous comments that were now ‘taken down and used in evidence’!
TSA seems to have a Stasi like obsession with keeping files on VOLUNTEERS (REMINDER: 98% of TSA’s work is done by volunteers). A Subject Access Request reveals the usual stuff, about length of service, or training. But as both Hemming—Clark and others have discovered, when TSA wants you gone, it is amazing what they drag out of the woodwork.
The author’s suspension was eventually lifted. This is unusual as TSA prefers to cast leaders it has no further use for into the wilderness to fend for themselves. But more was to come.
Hemming-Clark also authors another series of very successful Scouting themed books. And TSA went after him over them, with their lawyer’s letters alleging copyright infringements.
This move further exposed the sheer nastiness and hypocrisy of TSA bosses. Is this the same TSA who used an unauthorized photograph in one of their most successful books and then pleaded poverty when the photographer demanded payment? Is this the same TSA who, when told a gay porn film called ‘Scouts’ was being released, claimed nothing could be done about it?
The author has done potential Scout Leaders a great service with this book by showing what they could endure if they take up the role. What other VOLUNTEERS would stand for such industrial levels of mistreatment?
For current Scout Leaders – many of whom have devoted their entire lives to Scouting – this book should finally enable them to realise that while their charges and their parents admire them greatly, their bosses ultimately regard them as being as expendable as the burnt out match they used to light their last campfire with.