JANUARY is a time for looking both back and forward, of making plans and setting priorities for a new year.

With a brand new decade about to unfold, what better resolution to have than to try and reconnect people from all backgrounds?

In an age of unprecedented opportunities for people to connect and communicate with others across the globe through technology, it’s never been more important to help young people develop their skills for life. Empathy, teamwork and active listening won’t just help our Scouts find their role in their future workplace, they’re also vital parts of developing into confident and compassionate adults.

Bringing people together has always been a key priority for the Scouts.The movement began when Robert Baden-Powell brought together 20 young people - 10 working class and 10 from public schools - for a week of adventure on Brownsea Island. They discovered that despite their vastly different backgrounds they shared many more things in common, and more than 110 years later the movement is stronger than ever. Scouts still camp on Brownsea Island to this day.

Just last year, young people from Cumbria travelled to West Virginia to meet, learn from and forge lifelong friendships with more than 45,000 others from 150 countries as part of the 24th World Scout Jamboree.

Later this year another contingent will have their very own international experience in Poland at the 2020 European Jamboree. In an international, connected world the chance to share unmissable experiences alongside brand new friends is utterly amazing. Jamborees are celebrations of peace, friendship and adventure that provide all those who attend with fantastic memories and a richer understanding of the myriad of cultures and perspectives the planet holds, yet with everyone attending having Scouting in common.

Closer to home, more than 500 Cumbrian Beaver and Cub Scouts came together from every corner of the county - not an easy task - for a fun day at Newton Rigg last summer. Although on a smaller scale than an international camp, the event once again allowed our young people to interact and enjoy activities with others from different areas and backgrounds, but again sharing Scouting experiences. With Cumbria difficult for young people to navigate, by car or public transport, we hope the event helped break down perceived barriers and differences and helped all those who attended understand that together they make up a community.

This week Cumbria Scouts, schools, businesses and more across the county took part in Brighter Cumbria, supported by the Cumberland Building Society, on January 20. The day is often known as Blue Monday and the event is designed to help banish the traditional “January blues” by trying to break the world record for random acts of kindness performed in a single day (more than 20,000!).

Scout or not, empathy is surely one of the most vital skills we could all do with developing further. The actions of our young people are a credit, not only to them but to the hard work of the leaders and volunteers who selflessly give their time and effort to help their development.

Looking further ahead, 2020 promises yet more opportunity, adventure and above all fun for all our Scouts across Cumbria. Camps, hikes, adventures, residentials, competitions and more will help Cumbria’s youth become more confident, resilient and empathetic young adults, ready to make the most of whatever the future holds.

Young people are the future; the doers, the dreamers and give-it-a-goers but they can only realise their full potential thanks to our amazing volunteers. If you’re looking to make a difference yourself in this new decade, why not find out what you can bring to Cumbria Scouts?

As a volunteer you can give back to your community by sharing your skills while learning new ones, fully supported with training that can help you develop your own skills for life. No matter how much time you have available to give there’s a role for you.

Find us at www.cumbriascouts.org.uk or by searching social media for Cumbria Scouts.

Jonny Winter

Deputy county commissioner (perception), Cumbria Scouts