Navigators Find Their Way To Fishguard
Navigators is recently new to the United Kingdom. It came across the pond from America, hailed as a modern version of Scouting and Guiding, it follows no religious or political path. Instead it is an open movement that welcomes all races, religions and genders, focusing on encouraging young people to follow a moral compass.
I spoke to Jana Davidson who, with colleagues, has set up the first Navigators group in Wales, in Fishguard, and I asked her what they are all about
“It’s about inspiring engaging and giving opportunity to young people. We are encouraging our members to ‘do the right thing’.”
We talked about the Scouting movement which Jana has been involved in for many years and I asked what was different between traditional Scouting/Guiding and Navigators?
“Scouting is a great movement,” Jana explained, “but there are set rules. The same rules apply wherever one lives, but we feel there are particular needs in a rural community like ours. Navigators allows each group to set their own agenda within a framework that is more flexible and allows the young people to be fully engaged in the choices and decisions they make. It’s not the leader deciding to do what they want all of the time, and the young people fit in.”
The members, who have only been meeting since September 2019, have already got a full programme planned, including both indoor and outdoor activities.
Limited only by the imagination of the young people and the adults who guide them, the children can obtain a number of badges for activities designed around them or just elect to try out new experiences.
“Our Navigator group is determined by the needs of our local community, and so each group can be operated in a way that works for them. Environmentalism, adventure activities and being a big part of our local community are key for us,” said Jana. “Activities will involve things like bushcraft, camping, abseiling, paintballing, zorbing, and arts and crafts. And let’s not forget life skills.”
The new movement is also keen to be fully inclusive, welcoming all young people of all abilities into its accessible space at the Gateway building in Fishguard.
“There is so much pressure to fit in these days,” said Jana. “We Navigators are relaxed, friendly and tolerant. We are teaching traditional values like respect and good manners. We want people to know that this is a safe place for everyone and that it’s OK to be not OK. It is OK to be you.
“In a small rural community like ours people know when someone is having a difficult time. We are able to support through those difficult times, as well as enjoy and celebrate the joyful times. We can take away peer pressure, so confidence grows.”
So the group meets at the Gateway building behind the Fire Station in Fishguard. What day and what time?
“We meet on a Wednesday. The juniors (aged 6 to 10) meet from 5pm to 6.30pm. The seniors (10 to 16) meet from 7pm to 9pm. Our 16- to 18-year-olds work with us as young coaches, which also gives them a vital attribute to add on their CVs. After all, we want our young members to succeed and achieve in their own right, not have to fit a stereotypical mould as other groups prefer.”
Do the young people have a uniform?
“Each group can decide what to wear. Generally we opt for T-shirts and hoodies.”
Who is running the sessions?
“Navigators is run by a committee with myself and my husband, Ben, leading. We are all volunteers. We already have 24 members and each member pays subs of £10 a month, which covers basic costs like renting the room. We will be seeking funding for equipment and other things we need very soon.”
I asked Jana if there were things that people could donate to support the new venture?
“We need tents, cooking equipment, games, play equipment, craft materials, gardening equipment, compasses, maps and ropes. We have all sorts of ideas and plans, from planting up the carpark with tubs to camping out, and would be really grateful for gifts. Please contact me if you think you might have anything we could use. We will be fundraising, so watch out for coffee mornings and quiz nights and so much more. In fact we have already been asked by the Town Council to take over the upkeep of an old telephone box up near the Pendre, we already have lots of plans for it.
“It’s important to be part of community. Having a sense of belonging and taking part in local things are crucial. The Navigators will be taking part in local life without a doubt.”
Phone numbers: Ben: 07546 800334. Jana: 07944 326662
Find us on Facebook: Fishguard Navigators.