You can’t be too old to Scout or Guide

You can’t be too old to Scout or Guide

The news that a Guider has been told that she is now too old to run her Rainbow group, now she has turned 65. The reason being that by turning one year older she is now no longer a suitable “role model” for the girls. The irony being that she only recently received a letter praising her for her service.

Age does not make someone more or less suitable to be a role model for young people or more or less suitable to be a Scout or Guide leader. The difference is the person, not the age.

From experience, I know that it takes everyone for Scouting to work, from pensioners to eighteen year-olds and everything inbetween. Age doesn’t really have much impact nowadays in how active someone can or will be. Society is different and age discrimination – like all discrimination – is unacceptable.

I am proud that the Scout Association has no age discrimination policy and that leaders can remain in active service however old they are, just as long as they want to keep on volunteering. They may choose to give up leading a Section as they age or they may not. But no-one will make them.

Age should never be used as a reason for discrimination. It may play a part in someone’s suitability for a specific role, with regards to concerns such as experience, but should never be a deal-breaker. Leaders and other volunteers of all ages are essential for Scouting to work. No-one can ever be the “wrong age”.

I love your blog and find it really interesting. I am a Brownie leader, parent of a Guide and a Beaver, and I am a former Beaver helper, and my perspective is always that there is room for Guiding and room for Scouting and that we should stand together as sister/brother organisations.

Yes, this Guiding policy is antiquated. But there’s a couple of things you should know. One, leaders have always known this was coming at 65, so to make a fuss just before you turn 65 seems daft, she should have been trying to change the rules from 60 onwards.

And two, this policy has JUST changed. With effect from April 2011, leaders will have a formal succession review from age 63, looking at how to find new leaders for the group. Once age 65, leaders will be able to stay on in any role other than Guider in Charge; they can be Assistant Guider, Unit Helper, Occasional Helper, and can run camps and holidays if they already have a licence to do so. This continues until they are 70, at which point they can still carry on but will be reviewed annually by County, to ensure they are still fit, still feel happy to go on rather than pressured to go on etc.

I’m glad you enjoy the blog! I agree entirely that Scouting and Guiding should stand together – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be critical friends.

This an out-dated policy and really absurd. The new rules are no better than the old ones: there should be no restriction based on age, beyond the obvious 18. An annual review seems constricting and time-consuming – why no just say “keep going until you want to retire” and leave it at that? Why discriminate at all?

The annual review is, from what I understand, not intended to be time-consuming. It’s new, so I haven’t had all the details, but I think it’s a phonecall, I could be wrong.

From what I do know, I actually think the new rules are an excellent line drawn between the current “leave at 65” rule and leaders who go on beyond their time with units that are not following the programme.

I feel like Mrs Merton by the way: “Let’s have a heated debate!”

I’ve added you to the blogroll on my blog, hope you feel able to add me to yours.

Any decent line manager should be pretty much constantly aware of what their leaders are doing and not need any form of annual review to check that they are still running their section well and an appropriate person for the role.

Age shouldn’t be a reason to subject someone to an annual review. Either all leaders should be, or none. A good line manager should be doing this anyway. Why formalise it – and risk alienating excellent leaders – just because they reach 65?

Timely this post.

The lady who runs the Rainbows which meets in our HQ has had the same letter as she too has reached 65. The lady in question is more than capable of running her section and has written to Guide HQ to say so. She does not want to become an assistant or make tea (her words) and feels that she will know when it is time to retire. The lady makes the point that retirement ages are being extended in employment and 65 is not old anymore especially if in good health.

I’ve offered her a position with our Group – we could certainly use another Beaver Leader with such experience!

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