Bill Stevenson: Boys’ Brigade more than games and camping

Bill Stevenson, director of Boys'Brigade Scotland
Bill Stevenson, director of Boys'Brigade Scotland
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For many of us, being part of a local youth organisation is likely a fond part of our childhood conjuring up memories of parachute games, music lesson or camping trips.

It is not perhaps, an experience we credit with exposing our true talents or future career path?

But for many of today’s Boys’ Brigade members, they are receiving much more than just a nice childhood memory, they’re gaining skills and even qualifications.

Over the years The Boys’ Brigade Scotland has worked hard to make sure it remains attractive and relevant to its young members and the evolution of its KGVI Youth Leadership Programme has played a key part in this.

Having celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, the KGVI programme is as popular as ever with over 2,300 young leaders benefitting from the training since it started.

Not only does it offer our young people the chance to become BB leaders themselves but offers a way for them to discover their talents and how to maximise these whilst at the same time gaining a recognised SCQF level 7 qualification.

The course began in the 1950s in memory of King George VI and caters to young people between 17 and 22 years old who are keen to become Boys’ Brigade leaders.

It’s a two year programme which provides participants with a unique opportunity to explore their gifts regardless of academic ability whilst providing them with an alternative channel to gain UCAS credits.

The course includes a year working with a local Company and two, week long residential courses which gives them the chance to showcase and develop their skills. It’s usually in these weeks that the young people discover that, whilst they may not be top of the class at school, they might, for example, be outstanding instructors. It’s a great way for them to find out what they can transfer into the workplace or further education.

The graduates then go back to their local group and use their time, talent and enthusiasm to make a difference to the next generation of BB members.

Amongst the feedback from those who have gone through the course we often hear that the benefits of KGVI are two-fold: you learn leadership skills and get a lot of opportunity to put them into practice and that’s really valuable, but there’s also the chance to meet people from all different backgrounds, from all over Scotland, and build lasting friendships which will help you as you progress beyond the course.

We’ve come a long way since the 1950’s and it’s exciting to see the commitment our young people have to ensuring youth organisations like ours can continue to adapt to the times and maintain an important place in their upbringing.

Bill Stevenson is Director of The Boys’ Brigade Scotland