In the latest of a series of articles about the Luxembourg-based Telstar International Scout Group, Chronicle.lu had the opportunity to speak with Section Leader Alex Gunn about the Scout section within this English-speaking Scouting group.
Chronicle.lu: How many Scouts are there in Telstar?
Alex Gunn: Telstar have two Scout Troops, Gemini and Apollo. At the time of writing, there are 26 Scouts in Apollo and 30 in Gemini. Of that, one third in each section are girls, something that we strongly encourage and support.
Chronicle.lu: And how many leaders are there?
Alex Gunn: We have ten leaders between the two sections. I am the section leader for Apollo and Muriel Doucin is the Gemini section leader. The Assistant scout leaders are Zoe Baxter, Vladimir Bilek, Paolo Magnani, Philip Czapiewski, Tony Killen, Paolo Magnani, Luis de Miguel, Patricia Suarez, Helene Meadows and Mark Vickers.
Chronicle.lu: Do you find it difficult to attract young people to your Telstar group, or is it, in fact, the opposite, i.e. a waiting list? What percentage of your Scouts graduate and come up from Cubs, and do many come in without any such background?
Alex Gunn: There is a very active demand for Scouting in Luxembourg and Telstar is no exception. For Telstar, around 70% of the Scouts were previous Cubs. We do have a waiting list to manage Scouts wishing to join.
Chronicle.lu: Is it difficult to attract leaders too?
Alex Gunn: I think attracting leaders is not the biggest problem, but I think the main challenge is finding those individuals who can commit the time to bring their skills to Scouting. I would say we are currently blessed with a great team of leaders in our Scout section, and anyone who is interested - even if you don't have previous Scouting experience - please do get in touch!
Chronicle.lu: How often do you meet, and where? Do you break over the winter / summer months?
Alex Gunn: Our regular meeting slot is every second Saturday during the school terms. We mainly meet outdoors, selecting a suitable location for the activty, mainly in the forests around Luxembourg City. We also have indoor meeting location at Weimserhof.
Chronicle.lu: What indoor and outdoor activities do you normally do, and what is the balance?
Alex Gunn: Where possible we arrange outdoor meetings focused on covering scouting activities such as pioneering and orienteering. Camping is also a key element of our programme with several planned throughout the year. Indoor meetings make up around 20% of the programme and cover either classroom based activities such as first aid, or to utilise equipment such as an indoor climbing wall.
Chronicle.lu: What major events do you have planned for this (academic) year? Will this involve meeting up with other troops, etc.? And do you meet up with any of the other Telstar groups?
Alex Gunn: We are currently planning an expedition to happen in February, which will be Telstar Scouts only. The major events coming up this academic year are the BSO District Camp, where we will meet with other Scout groups from Beigium, Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic, and the Summer Camp, a week-long camp in the summer holiday period open to Scouts from both Telstar Scout Troops. We have three Scouts going to the World Scout Jamboree in Korea this year; this is an amazing opportunity for them to meet other Scouts from all around the world.
Chronicle.lu: What will having your own (Telstar's) premises mean to you and your Scouts and leaders?
Alex Gunn: I think it will be fantastic to have our own home - a safe place which is ours and a base from where we can plan and run activities.