WINCHESTER Scouts are urging adults to stop watching TV and volunteer with local groups to help more youngsters enjoy outdoor activities.

Scout leaders are needed urgently as demand for places has surged 70 per cent over the last 12 months, according to the 2015 Scout Census.

Records show there are 260 children on the waiting list for Winchester – the largest of all of Hampshire’s 27 Scout districts.

Around 170 of these are six to eight-year-old girls and boys waiting to join the Beavers, with 70 more waiting for places in the Scouts.

Children from South Wonston, Littleton, Harestock, Sparsholt, Colden Common and city centre wards are all vying for places, despite the number of places having increased by 40 per cent to 950 over the last four years.

Youngsters have stepped up as ‘leaders’, which counts towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards, easing the burden for adult volunteers.

Thomas Porter, 16, of Andover Road North, said: “I think a lot of parents either don’t have the time or the skill set but we’re trying to make it easier. The important thing is trying to get anyone who can volunteer.”

Fellow Scout Jess Albon, who was in both the Brownies and Cubs, said: “Even if it’s only an hour. That’s a TV programme, but if you want to watch TV, there’s always BBC iPlayer!”

Nick Muscat, 15, of the 9th Winchester Scouts in Colden Common, added: “There’s a shortage of leaders so a lot of people are missing out.”

Nick is joining fellow Colden Common Scout Stephen Cook to go to the international jamboree in Japan.

The duo have been fundraising for months to visit Asia where they will meet fellow Scouts from around the globe.

Stephen was also lucky enough to go out to Gambia with other Scouts to paint a mosque and build a house.

These youngsters say Scouts enables them to take part in outdoor activities with their peers though they still enjoy the odd bit of social media like others their age.

“I’m on Skype with people I met in Gambia,” Stephen said, while Jess said they often run live-blogs and tweet about their adventures.

Stephen Parker, district commissioner, said: “Baden Powell believed that the Spirit of Scouting was about doing the right thing at all costs. The right thing now is to step forward, to make a difference, and to help us meet the demand from young people.

“We need councillors to help us swap existing council sites long-leased from 50 years ago for new sites for larger Scout Group buildings.

“If we do these three things in Winchester, we can make Scouting better and provide many more places for more young people. This is all about doing the right thing.”

For more information or to donate visit