Chief scout Bear Grylls flew into Hertfordshire at the weekend as part of a whistlestop tour aimed at inspiring more adults to step up and get involved in the booming scouting set-up.
The TV presenter and adventurer used a helicopter to fly from location to location, finishing his tour at the Phasels Wood Activity Centre on the outskirts of Kings Langley.
He joined young people as they took part in a variety of different outdoor activities and challenges that allowed them to hone their expedition planning and survival skills in the company of peers and trusted adult volunteers.
And as he took time to say thank you to all existing volunteers involved in scouting across the county, he also stressed the need for more people to come forward.
He said: “One of the main objectives for this weekend is to encourage adults to volunteer a bit of their time to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to join in and share the adventure that scouting offers all its participants.
“I’m so proud to be Chief Scout and it’s always humbling to see first-hand the adventures that our members are taking part in and the spirit with which they make a difference.”
The Scout Association is the largest co-educational youth movement in the country, with more than half a million members.
But there is an urgent need for adult helpers. At the moment 1,800 young people in Herts are on waiting lists because troops cannot accommodate any more new recruits after a surge in interest which has resulted in record levels of membership in the county.
The Phasels Wood event was dubbed the Gr8 Big Bash and saw more than 3,000 scouts and leaders taking part.
Pippa Furey, 18, was among them. She said: “Meeting Bear was an experience I will never forget.
“Scouting is all about adventure and it was great that Bear was so keen to join in and speak to all of us, encouraging everyone to get stuck in.
“Scouting has done so much for me and I’ve had so many great experiences so I’m really keen to give something back”.
Ethan Mills, an Explorer Scout aged 16, added: “It was amazing that Bear came to help celebrate with us.
“There were over 3,200 people taking part in activities from archery and abseiling to segwaying and caving.
“The activity day was to recognise our record membership numbers – there are now 16,463 scouts and leaders in Hertfordshire.
“It was a great day despite the weather and everyone has really enjoyed themselves in true scouting fashion”.
Adults working in scouting contribute more than 364 million hours of voluntary work each year to their local communities.
And the number of volunteers is bigger than the combined workforces of the BBC (24,000) and McDonalds (67,000) put together.
If you’d like to find out more about getting involved in scouting, visit www.scouts.org.uk/join for more information.