Anja Johnston (above) is a volunteer with Scouts Scotland.

I VOLUNTEER with Scouts Scotland in a number of ways – first and foremost I’m a Scout leader. There, I have been given so many amazing opportunities. I got the chance to go to Iceland in 2017 and camp with thousands of other young people from right across the world. Some became my friends for life. Without Scouts I never would have had that experience and I volunteer so that more young people can have the chances that I’ve had.

I recently became a national volunteer with Scouts Scotland, playing a key role in championing youth leadership. Our vision is to have a movement shaped by young people in partnership with adults. Part of my work is to help empower our youth members to be actively involved in every aspect of Scouts, including programme and activity planning.

Volunteering with the Scouts has given me the confidence to try to do so in other places as well. In school I volunteered in clubs such as Rock Challenge and I frequently volunteered at Caithness Rugby Club as a coach with the minis, refereeing tag rugby school tournaments and helping at the week-long summer camps.

There is so much that I get out of being a volunteer. Seeing a young person develop is the most rewarding experience you can get as a volunteer. You have a few hours every week to take a young person who is so shy, nervous, and afraid of leaving their parents, out of their comfort zone to get them to join in. Over time you get to help them develop into confident, resilient, independent young people who are able to support and lead a group of their peers through the same challenges that they faced not so long ago.

I’m also incredibly lucky that I’m given access to huge amount of training. Anything from gaining a permit in paddle sports to learning the skills of management, I’m not sure where else you could learn quite a variety of skills. I’ve also had the chance to go on amazing experiences and make new friends from right across the world. I would never have met so many people if it hadn’t been for the Scouts.

We are taking our young people on a journey. From the day they step into their local Scout hall, shy but energetic, we are helping them to develop the skills they need to succeed in life. As they grow and develop this will have an impact on their wider community. Through the work of volunteers we are giving young people a voice, we are putting them at the forefront of decisions that will affect their journeys by giving them the choice to shape it not only for themselves but for others.