The Rover section had another good year of development in 2018. Our biggest success this year was the completion of the Time To Be Welcome project and the continuation of the National events. There has been some further development work done to the personal progressive scheme and the work done to tie aspects of the programme together, this is work still being done from the findings of the Programme Review.
In the way of national events we promoted Rover Action Week in the spring. Unfortunately due to administration issues in the office we have as yet not been able to grant any of the funds that were raised. This should not dispel any rovers wanting funds for service projects this year as the issue will be resolved soon.
Rover Chill this year took on the theme of The Revolution and participants spent the weekend in Renmore Scout Den Galway doing various small service projects as a means of idea generating and networking. Coincidentally it aligned with the Vodafone Comedy festival and Macnas parade which was provided as evening programme. There was workshops on privilege, feminism, activism and a how to start your own movement. In the world we live in today and the ever growing want for change its important we equip our young people with skills and experience to have their voices heard on issues that are important to them.
We incorporated Ceiliuradh into the event this year. Ceiliuradh is a celebration of achievements and projects undertaken by rovers amongst their peers. This year Oscar Fitzgerald was awarded the Rover Success award for his involvement in several service projects in Waterford. We are still molding this initiative into a form factor that works best and I think we have found a nice mix by having a Ceiliuradh evening at certain events. This weekend was all about being an active citizen, there is even a blog post this week about one rovers experience at the weekend. https://rovers.scoutblogs.ie/
We provided our Tent Pitching service again at Electric Picnic this year and raised more funds for the RAW projects. We had a smaller number of Rovers but they were fully committed to raising as much money as possible. They worked to the bone in very warm humid weather. The night at Electric Picnic was enjoyed by all attendees. The values shown at this event in particular are ones of altruism, and giving back to raise money for a fund that many of them had made use of previously.
We had our first Rover Survivor last year and although the attendance was small there is an increasing interest in the event. The rovers were put through their paces on land and sea down around Spike Island in Cork. Reports back were overwhelmingly positive and as a result we have decided to continue to grow this event with the next Rover Survivor planned for late September this year. Its sure to be a great addition to the very successful Survivor series headed up by the Backwoods Adventure Skills Team.
Rover Focus is the youth forum for the section and incorporates a weekend of other workshops and activities. This was a great weekend this year run by the Rover Reps of 2018. The weekend of fora was coordinated by Pauline Lucas and she did a stellar job given the administration issues encountered.
The Explorer Belt run in The Netherlands was another very successful event to add the long heritage this event has had in Scouting Ireland. Aisling Beegan and her sweep team did a great job from start to finish. A milestone in the life of all participants who took on the challenge and one that will not be forgotten for a while.
This year we have a team lead who has completed her Explorer Belt a few years ago and is still an active Rover. This is a national event that will be run by Rovers for Rovers. And its great to have gotten to a point where this sort of peer lead programme and facilitation is possible. Wish Dervilla McCann the best of luck this year as she brings the Explorer Belt to Scandinavia.
The biggest achievement of the year for some was the end of the Time To Be Welcome project, where rovers spent between 12 and 2 months in Greece helping to integrate migrants into the local communities in Athens, Thessaloniki and Kavala. This was a partnership event with other organisations from across Europe including the British Red Cross. This was a major life experience for these rover volunteers and they have been involved in the dissemination of their learnings and learnings of the project at various events in Belfast, Dublin, Athens and Brussels. Some of our Rovers were also part of the contingent that presented the report to the European Commission in Brussels. Huge gratitude is due to all involved, in particular Karol Quinn for leading the support of the volunteers.
We also had a bumper year in terms of Chief Scout award achievement, the two awardees were Maire Fitzgerald and Brian O’Mahony. There is a few more Rovers still working away on the award and I wish them the best luck in completing it, its no easy feat.
In planning for the future and the programme development work that is going on, there has been head way made on the PPS and programme structure and this will completed soon. There has been cross organizational support with different scout associations in Europe too, to give them guidance on our experience with Rover programme and in some cases specific help on how to run national events like the Explorer Belt.
Given the year that was 2018 for Scouting Ireland the development side of the section slowed a little as morale and motivation dipped. Programme still carries on and those involved in it will get through anything to make sure of its success. The Rover Team would like to thank the hours of work and effort Paluine Lucas has given to the role of Programme Commissioner for Support and in her role as interm Chair of the NYPC.
While the section still has some major challenges, most have been identified and a plan has been developed around how to tackle them. Notwithstanding any of that Rover Scouts is truly the most exciting section to engage with as the impact it can have is immense. Plans are afoot to help Rovers better mobilise themselves and network easier with others of similar interests. Here’s to a new year, a better year, a year that Rovers stand up to be counted!
To keep up-to-date on all things Rover related be sure to check out our Rover Scout Blog (rovers.scoutblogs.ie) and our other social media platforms.
Yours in Scouting,
Programme Commissioner (Rover Scouts)