SPECIAL REPORT: How the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade offers so much for youngsters
In a bid to help children off social media and back into the community, learning new skills and making new friends, this week we look at the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade.
Open to anyone from the age of five up to 18, the organisation offers the chance for youngsters to meet, try new things such as play an instrument for the marching band, earn awards or badges for completing various tasks - and have fun.
But unlike Scouts and Guides – that have a high profile – Judy Taylor, captain of the 1st Spalding Boys’ Brigade, says not so many people are aware of the Brigade.
She said: “People know about Scouts and Guides and what they do but we don’t have as high a profile. I don’t really know why.”
In a similar vein to Scouting and Girlguiding, youngsters in the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades work towards achieving badges and have the chance to go on residential trips, camps and national weekends at activity centres.
They can go bowling, swimming, they’ve visited the Fun Farm at Weston and Scalextric racing, plus have joined other local brigade organisations for fun days and competitions.
It is just great to see the children working for their awards and gaining their badges. It is such an achievement for them and it’s great fun too.
Judy has been involved with the organisation for around 30 years, first as a helper for a few weeks when her youngest child joined the group. She enjoyed it so much, she has stayed ever since.
She said: “It is just great to see the children working for their awards and gaining their badges. It is such an achievement for them and it’s great fun too.”
The 1st Spalding Boys’ Brigade and 2nd Spalding Girls’ Brigades meet every Tuesday evening in term time only from 5.50pm-7.30pm at Spalding Baptist Church in Swan Street (next to Scooby Doo’s).
Children in year six and above can stay on until 8.30pm for more activities.
The Boys’ Brigade is the oldest uniformed voluntary youth organisation in the UK, started in Glasgow in 1883 by Sir William Alexander Smith. The Girls’ Brigade soon followed and now both are international organisations, with over a million members each.
Today, it is the biggest Christian Youth Organisation in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
But you do not have to be a regular church-goer to join the organisation.
“Anybody can come along,” Judy added.
Currently, the Brigades that meet at Spalding Baptist Church have 20 members in the girls’ section and about the same in the boys’ section.
Judy agreed that the increase of youngsters’ social media use may have had an impact on the numbers at the group, which have dropped a little over recent years.
However, Brigade member Andrew (11) said: “What I like about the Brigade is you spend time with your friends and don’t have to watch YouTube all the time.”
Liam (10), added: “Sometimes you get to do things you never dreamed of doing. The camps give your weekends a bit of a liveliness. You learn to do survival skills and learn Bible stories.”
Ben (11), said: “I like the uniform. It makes me feel I belong.”
Besides the 1st and 2nd groups in Spalding, there is also the 3rd Spalding group, which meets at the United Reformed Church in Pinchbeck Road. Plus, the 1st Long Sutton group which meets at the Baptist church.
Describing a typical evening, Judy said: “It begins as we fall into squads ready for inspection – those with the most points at the end of the month gain a reward.
“Following this we split into groups for badge work, which includes cooking, crafts, a variety of games, camping skills, the environment, team-building and lots, lots more.
“As a Christian organisation, we learn about the Bible too in interesting and fun ways such as puppets, DVDs and action songs.
“Badges are an important part of what we do and we have an annual awards evening, when achievements are recognised for the year. The highest award is the Queen’s Badge, presented at age 18-19, which involves things such as improving skills, volunteering in the community and working in a leadership position within the Company.
“We have recently taken part in the Duke of Cornwall’s Award, (learning how to help ourselves and others in an emergency). We had an amazing day at Waddington, Fire and Rescue Training Centre, trying out the fire hoses, going in a simulator pulling a police car apart, before being presented with our awards by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire.
“We also have a marching band, where members can learn to play an instrument.”
The marching band consists mainly of bugles and drums, as well as the bell lyre (similar to a keyboard on a stick comprising of steel bells.) Even children who have not been musical before can get the chance to try an instrument.
People interesting in finding out more about the Brigades can pop along on a Tuesday evening in term time to Spalding Baptist Church or visit www.spaldingbaptist.org.uk. The cost for each session is £1.50. For more information on the other local groups visit: www.boys-brigade.org.uk
○ The Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade has a membership of more than 50,000 children and young people nationally, providing opportunities for them to meet together and engage in fun and developmental activities.
Its aim is to empower children and young people and does this by involving them in decision making at all levels of the Brigade.
It encourages youngsters to get involved in activities and projects in which they can make a difference.
Its motto is ‘Sure and Steadfast’ (taken from the Bible, the book of Hebrews).
The Queen’s Badge is the highest award that can be gained by a member of The Boys’ Brigade. It is designed to challenge and equip the individual, provide new opportunities and expand horizons.
To achieve the Queen’s Badge, the person must:
• Hold the President’s Badge;
• Attend a Candidate’s Meeting;
• Participate in skills-based training;
• Take responsibility within the Brigade or Church;
• Provide voluntary service or support to others outside the Brigade or Church;
• Develop Interests;
• Participate in a Completion Residential
• Record Activity.