Oliver Bills

Southampton SSAGO

Hi everyone! My name’s Oli Bills, and I’m the current SSAGO Webmaster, which means I spend most of my spare time making SSAGO better on the inside. As I come up to my final year in SSAGO, I’d like a final chance to help make SSAGO better on the outside as well.

It's important to remember what National SSAGO is for: To bring SSAGO together, to support the spirit of Student Scouting and Guiding, and to make the lives of every SSAGO member and SSAGO club better, easier and more fun.

I’ve gained a lot of experience over the years, both as a member and as an assistant, which I would like to share back, but most importantly, I’ve come to know the SSAGO membership and what we as an organisation are able to achieve together. This has inspired my ideas which I would like to propose to you:

Bringing SSAGO Together

  • National SSAGO Programme Library: As Webmaster, I see a lot of amazing ideas and activities in clubs across the country. I want to bring these together and kickstart the building of a National SSAGO programme library, full of ideas for every SSAGO club and member, from craft activities to wide games to camp themes to fun ways to spend an evening.
  • Collaborative Knowledge Base: I want to see the end of out-of-date and poorly utilised Factsheets, replaced with a collaborative knowledge base on all SSAGO topics, written by SSAGO for SSAGO, like a SSAGO Wikipedia. From campsite requirements for a Rally to campfire songbooks to the best silly games for a Sunday morning!
  • National Committee Weekends: I want to offer an opportunity, aimed at committees but open to all, to camp together this Summer and discuss and share ideas on how to run clubs, events and improve National SSAGO - sharing experiences and knowledge while having a fun weekend!
  • Working with SAGGA: With SAGGA, the joy of SSAGO doesn't end when you graduate - but we need to develop a closer relationship with our parent, a better linking process and hold joint events bringing SSAGO and SAGGA together and give SSAGO a chance to meet some of the most wonderful people out there!

Making SSAGO More Fun

  • National Events: National SSAGO should encourage National events that bring SSAGO people together from across the country beyond just Rallies and Balls. Events like SSAGO Goes to Spoons, a Curling Competition between SSAGO clubs, a quiet camp on Brownsea Island, a hiking weekend to tackle the Three Peaks or supporting more regional events, such as regional Summer Camps
  • National Badges: After having implemented the badge system, we're ready for the next level - physical badges for attending SSAGO events, volunteering at SSAGO support events, contributing something special and challenges to achieve. The Anniversary Badge challenges were just the beginning!
  • Club Badges: Clubs should be able to make their own badges and challenge badges, being able to complete these not just within their clubs, but to share with other SSAGO clubs and link this with the National SSAGO Programme Library.
  • Lost Gems in the Archives: SSAGO goes in cycles - the newsletters from 50 years ago show them discussing the same things we do today! In all those years, there's great ideas that have been lost to time. Working with Larah, I want to bring these ideas back to life, like we did with the Rally Newsletter.

Making SSAGO Even Better

  • Suggestion Box: I want to introduce an idea and suggestion box where anyone can suggest an idea or feedback that they'd like SSAGO to run with. On the website, so it's always available and at every Rally, for those moments where a great idea comes to you only to be gone the following morning! These ideas should be published, along with what actions are being taken or could be taken.
  • Bridging the Gap: In addition to minutes, we'll bridge the gap between the Exec and members using action plans with timelines to show what the Exec are working on and how any member can get involved and give feedback.
  • Communication: Making sure that all members and clubs know the SSAGO Exec aren't just there for when things go wrong, but should be on-hand to help you with your ideas, clubs, events whenever you need them. Implementing email management to make sure emails are answered promptly, giving help when it's needed.
  • Turning Surveys into Actions: We've collected a wealth of surveys over the past couple of years - now we need to use them to pull out the themes, the ideas, the lost suggestions and turn them into actions for future National Events, clubs and improving SSAGO itself.

Making SSAGO Easier

  • Integrating new members, clubs and Indie members: National SSAGO has a duty to make sure new members, clubs and Indie members have the best possible experience in SSAGO they can. It's National SSAGO's duty to provide resources and personal support to help them make the most of SSAGO.
  • Helping clubs with what they want to know: How to succeed at freshers, how to retain members, how to run a great camp, how to make good local Scouting and Guiding links, how to fundraise, how to get sponsorship - it's National SSAGO's role to collect, develop and share this knowledge.
  • Helping events and potential events: Whether national or local events, imagine how much easier life would be with timelines, example budgets, programme ideas, campsite information and FAQs.
  • Bring people together for opportunities: SSAGO should help promote and bring people together on a national level to make it easier to complete the Queen Scout and Guide Awards, Explorer Belts, Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, International Expeditions, the Dragon Award and similar opportunities.

In terms of experience, I went from having never been involved in Scouting to finding SSAGO when I started my Masters at Southampton and now being involved in as much as I can to make up for lost time! I’ve been heavily involved in my Scouting District and County and I’ve supported both Scouting and Girlguiding National and International Events. I’m a Beaver Leaver, I’ve been Social Sec and Secretary on the Southampton SSAGO Committee, I’ve chaired an international trip and the SSAGO Reunion 50th Anniversary, supported multiple national SSAGO events, was Publicity Officer on the SSAGO Exec before the reign of Josh and I’m currently doing a PhD, which means I can put myself through the worst and not just survive, but still be happy! Plus, if you’ve ever seen me type, you know my minutes will be both fast and verbose!

I hope you find some of these ideas as exciting as I do, and the big thing I want to do is open up National SSAGO to the membership, so if you have any other ideas or thoughts, I’d love to hear them and work with you!