Blog | Four weeks of Youth Shaped Scouting
1st Bradley Stoke Scouts stepped up to the challenge of planning their own Programme for a month.
The young people at 1st Bradley Stoke, Bristol, are typical of Scout Groups all over the country. When 13-year-old Fletcher suggests a new game they could try, and starts to explain the rules to everyone else, he lurches between swelling pride at being given an important task, and the self-aware, giggling awkwardness that comes with being a teenager.
But what becomes abundantly clear, as everyone listens to Fletcher’s instructions and then starts gleefully playing the new game, is how much these young people take control of their own Scouting journey, and embrace everything about Youth Shaped Scouting. This change in attitude has been inspired by a month-long experiment, where each of the four Patrols planned and ran an evening for everyone else.
Assistant Scout Leader Julia explains the process. She’s a student at the local university, and has been at the Group for a little over a year. The leadership team set parameters for each Patrol to work within: one had to plan an outdoor activity evening, another a fundraising event, and the other two coordinated badge work in the meeting place. ‘We gave them enough guidance to set them on their way,’ Julia explains. ‘We had to rein them in a couple of times - the Patrol who were doing the outdoor activity evening wanted to do all sorts of things, so we had to say, “Keep it simple! We’re on a budget!”. We were there to keep them on a path and make sure it happened.’
The first step was to give the young people a session to talk through their ideas and plan their tasks. ‘We started with an evening where they all sat down and we were helping them decide what to do,’ Julia says. ‘Each Patrol Leader was assigning jobs, deciding who was going to do what, and who would bring what. It kicked off the week after that, and the first group stepped up with the cooking in the hut.’ This was followed by a night of wide games at a local campsite, then an evening making stop-motion animations with a special app that the Patrol helped everyone download, and finally a fundraising event at the local shopping centre.
14-year-old Zoë is Patrol Leader for Super Scouts Patrol, and arranged the cooking night for the Chef Activity Badge. ‘We basically went through all the badges and chose one that we all liked,’ she explains. ‘We had a lot of control over what we were doing. We could make it as good as we wanted it to be. We had the responsibility of actually putting in some work - otherwise, if we put in no effort, it would be a bit rubbish and no one would enjoy it.’
During the evening, the other Patrols were challenged to create the best three-course meal they could, with the same ingredients and a strict time limit. Super Scouts Patrol were in charge of explaining the task, keeping everyone on track, fielding questions and judging the final dishes.
‘I had leader priorities for that week,’ Zoë says. ‘If I put my hand up, other leaders would have to stop and listen to me, as well as Scouts. It was a little bit stressful, but it was really good practice for later life.’
Learning skills for later life was one of the main motivations for Julia and the other leaders who suggested putting this Youth Shaped month into their Programme. ‘I did this when I was a Scout,’ Julia recalls. ‘I really enjoyed it, and I still remember what I did with my Patrol, so it’s really stuck with me. It’s great to see our Scouts respond a similar way and gain confidence. They’re learning skills now that they don’t even realise they’ll need. In the future, things like time management and organising people will be second nature to them because they’ve got to do it now, at such a young age.’
As the evening comes to a close, alongside this Group’s month of Youth Shaped Scouting, it’s clear that the lessons these young people have learned, and the greater responsibilities they’ve experienced, will stick with them. ‘It’s changed how I look at the leaders because I know how difficult it is,’ Zoë says. This is the first time we’ve had free rein, and it’s been good to try being a leader, especially as I’m a new Patrol Leader. It’s been really good over all.’
Julia and the other members of the leadership team second her positive attitude. ‘We’ll definitely do it again,’ Julia says emphatically. ‘It’s gone really, really well. It’s nice to see, and it’s really quite rewarding. It does make you proud.’
February is #YouShape Month, where we encourage everyone to give Youth Shaped Scouting a go. Find out more, and take a look at the resources we've developed for #YouShape 2017.