Volunteer with Scouts like Douglas Armstrong

[24/02/2023] Staff at the University of Edinburgh are entitled to one day of paid leave to volunteer and Professor Douglas Armstrong from the School of Informatics has been using his to volunteer at a Scouts camp. You might think that a mixture of survival camp and teenage party is not your cup of tea but there’s many ways in which you can get involved.

Over the last 8 years Douglas has participated in 30 different Scouts events, some as long as 5-8 days at a time. This year he went to the Scouts camp at the Auchengillan Outdoor Centre near Glasgow.  

What to expect 

Scouts who gather at the camp are from all over Scotland with some international scouts joining as well. Participants are 10 to 17 years old. Douglas is managing a group from Linlithgow. Activities include camping out, bow shooting, axe throwing and paintballing with a party and hot pool after hours. Summer camps are usually expedition focussed. Some of the Scouts’ leaders prefer to work with younger kids but working with teenagers can be rewarding. If you’re a parent of teenagers, then worry not, Douglas points out that it is easier to work with other people’s teenagers!

Professor Douglas Armstrong from the School of Informatics volunteer with Scouts

What’s expected of the scouts’ leaders? 

You can get involved in many different ways – from admin jobs to leading expeditions. You might need training: health and safety, first aid, child protection, hill walking supervision and navigation. 

Outreach activity 

Douglas has used his involvement with Scouts to do outreach work as well. Some of it involved his PhD student, Andrew Wood. One of the projects they ran was Hunted! with GPS. Its aim is to showcase how data can be used to refine how we plan routes. In a series of events the organisers look at the use of GPS tracking devices and the data they produce, as well as common methods to calculate route time from traditional map and compass type activities versus on-line route planners. Finally, the Scouts are encouraged to investigate sources of error and are introduced to data collection and hypothesis testing in a series of activities from games through to field studies and expedition planning. 

Some of the Scouts who participated in Douglas’s activities ended up studying computer science and some even came to the School of Informatics. 

Volunteer, Informatics! 

School of Informatics encourages their students and staff to volunteer for a good cause. If you are a member of staff in the School of Informatics and are interested in volunteering with the Scouts, get in touch with Douglas. 


Related links 

Link to Scouts website

Students as change agents

Staff and students: volunteer

A day to make a difference

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