I was bullied ruthlessly by other kids in my scout group, starting almost immediately after I moved up from cubs.
The inciting incident was that I turned down an older boys advances. I was 11 and he was 13. At first it was just uncomfortable to be around him, but soon I was being ostracised by the entire pack. Insults and name calling soon turned physical with me being pushed into a ditch and tripped into a nettle patch on a camp.
There was no adult supervision in my scout group. Adult leaders left the older children in charge while they chatted and drank coffee in another room. Occasionally a few explorers would join for a meet, meaning I was being ganged up on not only by the older children but some young adults too.
One explorer was hideously cruel to me. Making fun of my weight and glasses, mimicking the way I talked and encouraging the scouts to do the same. We were in the same group, but I also had to share a space with her in gang show and on camps too. It was horrible.
I spoke to the adult leaders about what was happening many times. Even begging my parents to get involved on my behalf. I was told I had to put up with it, as these kids had better leadership qualities than me and the request that it be ensured that an adult be in the room with the children the whole 2 hour meet was unreasonable.
My parents were told that I was dramatic and unlikeable and the way I was being treated was inevitable because I was different and socially awkward. They were convinced by the scout leaders that the bullying issue was very small series of spats between me and a few same age girls, and that I was gaining a lot more from being in scouts than I was losing.
When I was 13 the older boy whose advances I turned down 2 years prior was now an explorer himself. He was still attending the scout meet every week with increased responsibilities. On a blended scouts and explorers camp he joined us.
On that trip he touched me inappropriately without my consent. He also entered my tent without my knowledge and went through my luggage pack.
Not knowing what to do I kept it to myself, thinking that nobody knew, but I was wrong. An 18 year old explorer girl was privy to all the information I wanted to keep to myself, and rather than reporting the incident to an adult leader, she discussed it with the scouts and explorers as if it were a joke.
Ashamed I begged my parents to not send me to scouts anymore, but I couldn’t tell them why. Thankfully I didn’t have to. 3 weeks after the camp a scout told their parents about the gossip, who reached out to the scout leaders who told my mum everything but the boys name.
I took 4 months off from scouting after that traumatic event and decided at 14 to age into explorers at a different group. The group I moved into were lovely. A well organised and a welcoming bunch.
It took a long time, but the heavy weight of my old scout group had been weighing on me started lifting and slowly I began to feel lighter. I became a brighter, happier person. I had that sick dread feeling in my stomach for so long I didn’t even realise I’d been carrying it arouns till it was gone.
I left scouting entirely at 15, mostly because as much as I liked my new group, it felt like a chapter in my life that I had to close.
Out and about I’ve seen some of the people I knew from that first scout group in my adulthood. Mostly I get treated like they don’t know who I am. Maybe as a 20 year old I just look completely unrecognisable to what I did when I was 14, I’m not sure that’s the reason why though.