Blog | My experience of peer leadership - Jagz Bharth
Deputy UK Youth Commissioner Jagz reflects on his time as a Patrol Leader, and the skills learned then that he still uses today.
Developing leadership skills in young people has always been a fundamental part of Scouting. Youth Shaped Scouting is a traditional concept that goes back to when Lord Baden-Powell appointed Patrol Leaders to lead and support the first camp on Brownsea Island. The role of Scouting in today’s society has become more important than ever before; we develop young people’s leadership skills to help them in future life.
My time in Scouting
I grew up in a single-parent family and when my mum took me to Beavers for the first time, she made sure my leaders knew that. She knew then, even if I didn’t, the role that those leaders could play in shaping my life. Those leaders got to know me; they understood my strengths, my confidences and my weaknesses. They afforded me patience, time and respect. They supported my development – not only in Scouting, but in every aspect of my life. They were my role models.
The Sixer and Patrol Leader schemes are great ways for young people to develop their own skills, which they will carry right the way through Scouting and then into adult life. Personally, being a Sixer and Patrol Leader when I was younger undoubtedly shaped my life both inside and outside of Scouting. I continue to use the skills I learnt back then, as do so many others who had this opportunity. Being a Young Leader in Explorers gave me the chance to put my leadership skills into practice with a Cubs section, which gave me a sense of achievement and fond memories. Completing the Young Leader modules then gave me the confidence to become an adult volunteer. This journey is a key way to retain young people who are the leaders of tomorrow. Learning how to facilitate and support a large group of young people is one of the skills I continue to use today when leading my Explorer unit on a weekly basis.
My experiences as a young person gave me the confidence to believe I had the right set of skills to apply for a HQ role and led to me being appointed Deputy UK Youth Commissioner. It’s these opportunities we give to our young people that stay with them throughout their lives. My Cub leader started me on this journey, and I will always be grateful for that.
Why is it important?
We talk a lot about Scouting being life changing when we speak to parents, volunteers and the press, and maybe we have heard that sentence one-too-many times to really appreciate what it really means. Scouting can help young people in many ways, from giving that child who is shy the confidence to speak up, to conquering fears and achieving goals. It really changes lives. I think if we want young people to be confident and able to deal with the challenges modern society throws at them, they need space to take risks and make decisions. They need activities and opportunities to take them away from screens and put them in front of people who are different to them. They need opportunities away from home and school that allow them to grow their grit, resilience and character so they become more active members of society.
Following a period of consultation with adult volunteers and young people, there have been some updates to the Peer Leadership resources. We listened to young people that told us they would like peer leadership in the Beaver Scout section and we have created resources to support this. A ‘top tips’ poster will be available from the Print Centre, and a special leadership woggle for Beavers is currently in the final stages of development. Beavers who have undertaken a period of time as a leader can proudly wear Beaver leadership stripes, which will be available for Badge Secretaries to order from Scout Shops from March 3, 2017.
Consultation also established that members would like to be able to see the progression in leadership achievements through the sections. We have implemented new coloured stripes for Cubs, as well as introducing stripes for Beavers, to help visually show progression.
To support Sixers and Patrol Leaders in their roles and to recognise their fantastic achievements, a free guidance booklet is available. This will be sent directly to Badge Secretaries when they order leadership stripes for Sixers and Patrol Leaders after March 3, 2017.
Now that #YouShape month has come to an end, it’s clear that more and more young people are influencing their own Scouting every day, from planning their Programme to making key decisions. Thanks to everyone who has got involved: it has been great to see all your hard work on social media. #YouShape Month isn’t just a month, but a way for young people to have their voices heard that can and should continue throughout the year, so make sure you carry on using the resources and giving young people the chance to speak.
Looking back at my time as a Patrol Leader in Scouts and a Young Leader in Explorers, I can see how it has shaped the way I work and live. From leading a game in Cubs, to now leading an important meeting in the workplace, it’s the same set of skills I use everyday. I’m proud to support a Movement that puts young people at the heart of what we do and enables them to develop skills for life.
Find out more about Youth Shaped Scouting and the new resources available.