We’ve had quite the romance. It’s been a really beautiful journey actually.
I first fell madly in love with you when I was fourteen. It was as if the world had suddenly opened up to me. Overnight, and over a whispered promise, I joined a family of 28 million. My life suddenly expanded into every corner of the globe. I’d never had so many friends before. It was exhilarating.
We’ve been together for 14 years now. That’s a long time to sustain any relationship, but we’ve always done great. We’ve never had huge fights or horrible domestics like some couples. Just starry eyed love.
You might call me a hopeless romantic, but I can’t help it. You’ve given me so much, and taught me even more.
When I was an angry teenager, you taught me kindness and compassion.
When I have been selfish, you’ve taught me to give.
When I graduated from education into the ‘real world’, you gave me the skills I needed.
When I became a woman and faced challenges from the patriarchy, you never challenged me once.
When I faced discrimination because of the colour of my skin or the God I worshiped, you unfailingly opened your arms and provided safety.
You have taken me with all my faults, my shortcomings, my ridiculous ideas, and you’ve never laughed at me once for daring to dream big. What I’m trying to say is, you’ve been everything to me. More than I ever thought you would be.
Thankfully, we’ve never fought about money either, maybe because neither of us had much of it. But you were always generous with the little you had. You dug deep so that I could climb mountains in Italy. You dug even deeper so that I could scale glaciers in Iceland. And you gave again, so that I could trek across continents and countries, all in search of a belt. You also taught me to be innovate so I could raise money and help others.
Which is exactly what I did with my unit. No one had much money, but we were all mad for you. Crazy in love and addicted to jamboree nights. We lived for the high of being in a field with thousands of other people who were sworn by the same promise. We didn’t want to miss a thing.
So on a whim, a hope, and a prayer, we bought heaps of t-shirts, lugged them to the printers, and stamped our pride and love for you all over them. We took them to camp and hoped that someone would feel the same as us, and someone would want to show their dedication to you, and someone would buy them so we could have enough money to meet our scout family around the world.
We waited and waited, and finally someone bought one. And another one. And before we knew it, everyone wanted one. It was testament to how much we all loved you that we wanted to scream it from the rooftops. Or at least from our chests. And so Scout and Proud was born.
We managed to raise enough for our unit, with extra to spare. So we took the extra, and created a fund so anyone could apply and afford incredible opportunities. We could have made a profit for ourselves. We could have even kept the money just for our unit. But you taught us better than that. Scout and Proud was founded on the principles you instilled in us, and built with the skills you gave us.
But lately something’s changed. Something doesn’t quite feel right. I feel like we’re drifting apart, and I’m telling you now so we can fix it. I don’t want you to be a fond memory of someone I used to know. I want to be with you forever. I want wood beads and units and I want to give back to the ones just starting to fall in love with you. I want to tell my children stories from ‘my day’, but more importantly, I want to hear the stories they bring back from their own camps with you. You’re in my blood, under my skin and when I whispered my promise to you, I meant it forever.
Somewhere along the way you’ve lost your heart. Become worried about the business side of scouting, and you’ve forgotten about the soul. You’ve stopped us selling at Reunion because it’s taking money away from the products you created. Which seems so odd to me, because we’ve always shared everything. We’ve never hoarded or been selfish. We’ve never fought about who owns what.
Instead, it’s always been about the end goal; getting kids on camp, and giving them the world.
I wandered around Reunion last weekend. It felt different. Like I was in a strangers home, instead of my own. I worried about where we would find the money to send kids to the next Moot, Roverway, or World Jamboree. Everyone deserves at least one World Jamboree. Its there you see scouting at its finest, in its most beautiful form. It’s where magic happens.
I know what you’ll say, and yes, I can sell on other camps, organised by other people, but you see, Gilwell Reunion every year was where we had contact with the most people. It’s where we really sold the concept of being a scout, and proud of it.
And at the end of the day, it’s not about the money. It’s never about the money. It’s about how we got here, and why you’re doing these things. Because it’s against everything you and I have ever believed in. It’s against the very heart and soul of scouting. We believe in building others up, and never bringing down. It’s one of the main reasons I fell for you in the first place.
So I’m asking, with trembling hope, that we can stop fighting about this. That we can sell again when Reunion comes back around. That we can put this all behind us and look towards a brighter future. That we can build each other up, both I-Scout and Scout and Proud, because they’re both doing wonderful things, and they both deserve it.
And above all, I hope we can fall hopelessly and madly back in love with one another.
With love and hope,