The sense of adventure, once you get a taste for it, it never leaves you.

For Tony Smith, joining the scouting movement 42 years ago awakened this sense of adventure and it is still going strong.

Tony celebrated 30 years as a scout leader recently and his enthusiasm has not waned but has grown as he makes a difference in the life of young people who join the organisation.

Since joining at eight years old, Tony has been on many exciting and wonderful adventures which were challenging and life changing.

“I suppose I joined Cub Scouts in Enniskillen when I was eight years of age and I’m 50 now. I haven’t left scouting in general, I’m 42 years as member with just over 30 years done as a leader,” explained Tony.

“I became a scout in St. Michael’s Primary School where scouts were being held and a couple of my friends joined. That was back in 1977, it’s a long time ago. Back then it was a great time to be joining scouts with my friends joining, so we all joined together, and the passion has been there ever since.”

In today’s society, where technology is at everybody’s fingertips, Tony believes the role of scouting is as important as ever, in getting young people out and active.

With obesity in the youth an ever-growing issue, the scouts offers young people a way to get outside and take in the environment around them.

“In my opinion with what’s happening in society especially at the minute, it has never been more important and the rationale behind that is with the amount of technology that is there at the minute with young people caught up in computer games and the like, there is still some young people who want to be involved in scouts just to get the experience of the outdoors.

“When you have the like of Ray Mears and Bear Grylls promoting the backwoods and survival, it is giving that sense of adventure that they don’t normally get, and that sense of adventure is so important today because of the way kids are sort of caught up in things.

“And it is really important for me as a leader to make sure we can pass on that sense of adventure to the kids.”

Along with the sense of adventure on offer, another rewarding aspect of being a scout is the long-lasting friendships made with people from all corners of the world.

“It’s the friendships that you make, and the worldwide friendships are a big thing.

“It’s funny whenever you go away to an event, especially international events, when you come back you are inundated with these friends’ requests on Facebook and you are looking at them and they are from all over the world.

“I would have really good friends from as far away as New Zealand, to Saudi Arabia right through to all over Europe.

“It’s all about the comradeship. It’s the one goal and we are trying to make a difference in today’s society but also making a difference for the young people. We are trying to make them into rounded citizens because the way society is. If we can make them into rounded citizens giving them the life skills it just means so much for them and gives them a great start in life.”

This July, Tony will be part of a scouting contingent heading over to the World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, USA. Over 240 young people from all over Ireland will spend two weeks in America before they head north to Canada for a week’s camping.

And Tony is keen to point out it’s opportunities like this that present themselves to anybody who joins the scouts. As with everything however, Tony accepts that there are challenges that the scouts face in order for the organisation to maintain its presence and give young people the opportunities they can.

Tony would like to see more adult leaders and he encourages anybody with children joining the scouts to get involved and make the most of the opportunities they have to offer.

“I would encourage anybody who has young kids and who wants to get involved to come along themselves as an adult because you get so much out of it and it is like anything else within life, whatever you put in the more you get out.”