Leader: Scouts deserve a salute

FOR decades it seemed that Scouting was locked in a slow, terminal decline, shrinking to a small and beleaguered core. How could it withstand the changes in youth culture, the spread of drugs, family breakdown, changes in public attitudes and a widespread perception of a growing vacuum in the lives of young people?

But the movement is still the largest co-educational youth organisation in Scotland. And far from declining, it is growing. The movement in Scotland last year achieved its largest growth since 1972, in its fifth consecutive year of expansion. Scouting in Scotland is now up 4.7 per cent since January 2009.

These are heartening figures, which should lift the spirits not only of Scouts but all those helping young people in Scotland to develop their skills, gain confidence and make a positive contribution to society.

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It is particularly heartening that a large part of this growth in Scouting is due to record numbers of teenagers in Scotland joining. Those despairing at the decline in civic values and problems over anti-social behaviour among young people in particular now have a positive story to build on: the number of teenagers in Scouting in Scotland is up almost 27 per cent on 2001 when figures were first collected. The Scouts deserve a salute.