Get informed about the latest resource available to you and your group on national camps:
The Listening Ear Service – by Mary-Liz McGrath
Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to sit down and listen: Camps can be places where
some of our greatest memories are made, the strongest of friendships are forged, and where
the most valuable of life lessons are learned. Camps can also be draining and stressful
experiences when things don’t go according to plan, when there’s a breakdown in
communication, or when matters outside of our control bring dilemmas of their own.
Whatever the reason, the Listening Ear Service is there to help.
The Listening Ear tent provides a casual drop-in- drop-out counselling service for Scouts of
all ages. The principal objective of the service, according to Mary Fricker, a pioneer of this
new initiative, is to “safeguard young people” attending national events. Eimear Boyd, a
representative from the service, explains “It’s not just for youth members” – “(the tent) is just
somewhere for anyone to come and vent.”. Visitors to the tent are assured of a cup of tea, a
biscuit, and a listening ear (you might even get some sun cream there on a warm day!).
“People can stay as long as they want”, there’s no time limit for visitors. The tent is also open
outside of programme hours, from early in the morning to late at night, so that no one has to
miss programme in order to avail of the service. The team also have mobile members of staff
patrolling the site, identifiable by their Listening Ear ID cards.
Although the service is still in its early trial stages, the initial success of the programme on
events such as the World Scout Jamboree 2015, and most recently, JamÓige 2016, bodes well
for the initiative. The team are hoping that a continued presence at such events will help the
service attain lift-off in the coming years (hopefully in a spectacular fashion akin to
JamÓige’s soaring tent, which, according to on-lookers, interrupted the flight-path of a low-
We wish the Listening Ear Service the best of luck in their endeavours and encourage all
members of Scouting Ireland to drop by on upcoming national events.
- Mary-Liz McGrath