Words by Abi Scaife
Ahead of The Big Help Out, Smiley News interviewed Amanda Booth, the warden of a Scout campsite and ancient woodland, Hamlet Wood. Based near Maidstone, Hamlet Wood has been an asset to the Scouts charity and its community for sixty years. They are asking people to come and get involved on Monday 8th May with the National Council for Voluntary Organisation's coronation event, The Big Help Out.
What is Hamlet Wood, and how is it related to Scouts?
Hamlet Wood is a piece of woodland with camping facilities that has been owned by Maidstone Scouts since the very early 1960s. It has two buildings for accommodation, surrounded by woodland mostly made up of Kentish sweet chestnut. Some parts are counted as ancient woodland, with clearings where we allow camping.
I started helping the previous warden when he began to struggle with his eyesight and then I took over from him. There are about a dozen of us who regularly help at the campsite, looking after the woodland and buildings. We're completely self-funded and voluntarily-run.
Why are you so passionate about Scouts as a charity?
What I love about Scouts is that everybody and anybody can be a Scout and learn skills for their whole life, right from being a four-year-old Squirrel and learning to love the outdoors, making friends, and learning what it is to be a good person.
It means kids get some guidance, away from home and away from school where they're not judged on academic achievements, just whether they're nice kids. Nice doesn't need to mean well-behaved either - it means friendly, it means caring and it means doing your best - ie what’s the best that you can do at whatever it is you're taking part in?
Why are Scouts joining The Big Help Out?
In Great Britain we have a tradition of helping people. The Scouts Promise says to do your best, to do your duty to the King and to help other people. Celebrating the coronation by doing your best at helping out - voluntarily helping somebody else - is exactly what we're about.
What are you asking people to do this Monday?
We'd like them to get involved in the community spirit of working on a project and feeling good about doing something for nothing other than the joy of doing it, doing some work and having something to show for it. That's what volunteering is about - joining other people to achieve a practical goal. There are lots of jobs to do planting trees and taking care of our ancient, coppiced woodland.
Why should people consider volunteering in their communities?
Because people enjoy moaning! But you only moan if you don't do anything about the problem. So let's get involved and do something positive. And then we don't need to moan! If you experience volunteering, and see what good it does, then hopefully you won't feel so negative. It's a feel good factor for everybody.
If you want to learn more about Hamlet Wood and how to get involved, you can do so via their website. If you want to learn more about Scouting and how to get involved, you can find opportunities on their website.
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Scouts UK. Scouts is a charity that helps thousands of young people develop important life skills every single day. Find out more on their website.
Girlguiding UK. This charity inspires girls to discover and become their best selves, helping them to think big, be bold, try their best, have fun and be part of a team. Find out more on their website.
St. John’s Ambulance. This is a charity that helps those in need of medical attention, and encourages young people to join as cadets from as young as 10. Learn more here.