Scout volunteering: Your stories

Image caption Scouts Derek Fickling and David Wood in 1954

More than five hundred thousand Scouts have volunteered to take part in community projects, in a modern version of "bob-a-job" week.

They'll be removing graffiti, renovating care homes and building habitats for bees, among other jobs.

BBC News website readers have been sharing their memories of volunteering.

David Wood, Patrol Leader of the Gannet's, Chertsey, Surrey

Image caption 'My wife and I travel around the world helping people'

I really looked forward to 'bob a job' week as a Sea Scout with 1st Walton-on-Thames Vikings in the early1950s.

I remember shining shoes and rescuing a dinghy that had become waterlogged and frantically bailing out water with my chums to try and save the capsized vessel.

I also did a great job clearing out a large greenhouse for a strawberry farm. The other scouts and I promptly helped ourselves to any fruit that the farmers had missed. It was delicious.

I also remember weeding a crazy paving path with my best friend Derek Fickling. He will be in his seventies now. It was back-breaking work but we took pride in our endeavours.

In the 1950s the Scouts was a dynamic, supportive environment that moulded young boys into conscientious citizens. It taught us humanity. We rarely thought about enriching ourselves, we just wanted to help our neighbours.

People who had lost their homes in the Second World War and needed a helping hand to steady them. We had a completely different set of values in those days.

It is a source of deep anxiety that young people today may miss out on learning important life skills because of cuts to public services.

The shortage of volunteers has also worsened things; people have other commitments competing for their time and energy.

My short stint of volunteering at the scouts turned into a lifelong habit of giving back to my community. I took a deeper interest not only in local issues but also international policies.

My wife and I have travelled around the developing world with a number of aid organisations in places as Malawi, India, and Sri Lanka offering humanitarian aid.

It has been an incredibly challenging and worthwhile experience. In the succeeding years we have also been to China.

Our work has given us a purpose and focus in life and it has also been a rewarding, rich vocation, the genius of which began when I joined the scouts.

Peter Lowson, Haywards Heath

For parents in the 1980s the idea of the Boy Scouts was synonymous with wholesome activities such as camping, fishing and exploring.

This may seem an old-fashioned idea, but it's probably one of the main reasons why I was encouraged to join.

I became a Boy Scout at 11-years-old. While keen to develop new skills and make new friends, I didn't relish the idea of spending my entire school holidays scouring residential streets to find someone who might give me a paid job.

The principal problem was remuneration. Homeowners displayed scrooge-like behaviour. They still thought that "a bob-a-job" held sway, even though it was the 1980s and we had sky-high inflation. As young boy I simply didn't have the skills to negotiate a reasonable fee for my services.

At times I felt exploited. I spent the next three summers weeding front gardens, cleaning, polishing and waxing cars and general doing all sorts of grubby low-paid menial work for homeowners who simply did not want to do it themselves.

On one occasion a group of teenagers threw a bash while their parents were on holiday. I was asked to come help clean-up the aftermath when the party had run out of steam.

I greeted the scene and stains with abject horror. I spent the next few hours with wrists and elbows plunged in bone-chilling cold water scrubbing the remnants of yesterday's high jinks off the best porcelain.

Invariably I would be paid between 10 and 25 pence per hour for my troubles. Clearly, this left me a little despondent. This feeling was compounded further when I was given the herculean task of trying to raise £3 for the Boy Scouts.

Fed up with earning a paltry sum, at 15-years-old I decided to find a part-time job and donate some of my salary to my local Scouts association. This was a preferable and much easier option.

Bryan Johnston, Oshawa, Canada

I did "bob-a-job" some sixty years ago in the town of Barrow-in-Furness. Some people thought our fees were extortionate.

A bob was a lot of money in those days. Many were still reeling from the horrors and hardships of the Second World War. In post-war Britain rationing was still in place and it was pretty hard to get the bob out of people.

Homeowners were genuinely shocked to find out that they had to pay a shilling to get their back yard cleaned up or their small garden weeded, and these were just in the rich houses.

Looking back, this was a difficult period in my life. My father died in during the war and at young age I became the main breadwinner.

At 14 it was challenging to try and comprehend how the change in my circumstances would impact on family life thereafter. This is why the Scouts were so important.

The Scouts gave me strong values. I learnt self-reliance which helped me to cope with the separation and loss. To be frank, it's an experience which has paid dividends over the years.

I had the opportunity to help my local community and help people who were worse off than me. Everyone in the Scouts was eager to lend a hand to those around us and even after the misery of the war years we all did it cheerfully.

Adam Harvey, West Drayton, Middlesex

I was a Scout until 1987 and I fondly remember "bob-a-job".

The Scouts gave young people the opportunity to climb and camp for the first time. Everyone who completed a task gave their householder a sticker to position in their front window.

The sticker was there to ensure that people were not bombarded with requests from earnest Cubs and Scouts.

It's hard to measure the impact we had on the community but I know scouting helped me to make friends, grow in confidence and more importantly have fun while learning.

As a Scout I usually ended up performing tasks such as cleaning the car, washing the windows, mowing lawns, vacuuming or landscaping. I found these activities engaging especially when done with friends.

Most householders were happy to gives little chores to complete and were very good at paying us promptly.

Conversely, we also had a couple of celebrities in my village such veteran actor George Cole from Minder and the singer Joe Brown. Surprisingly, they always seemed to be the households which paid least.

Interviews by Elisabeth Ukanah

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