Linking events to support Scouts moving up
Although the move up to Explorer Scouts brings loads of opportunities, such as making new friends, completing the Explorer Belt or becoming an Explorer Scout Young Leader, for some Scouts it can feel a bit daunting. Why not support Scouts moving up with a linking event?
Linking events are a fun and interactive way for Scouts to find out what they’ve got to look forward to in Explorer Scouts, and feel more confident about moving on. There is a range of events run by different Districts – from paintballing to a winter camp – which offer opportunities to introduce Scouts to Explorer Scouting.
As well as providing opportunities for Scouts to meet other Explorers and Explorer Scout Leaders, linking events can also be a great way for Scouts to finish off what they need to do for their Chief Scout’s Gold Award. They will of course also be working towards their Moving On Award (Scouts to Explorers) and Membership Award for Explorers.
But it’s not only Scouts who can benefit from attending, these events also provide opportunities for Explorer Scouts to work towards parts of their top awards or Young Leaders’ Scheme missions. An Explorer Scout Young Leader could even work with leaders to plan and run the event for their Mission 4.
Need some inspiration? Take a look at these events.
Linking activities In Hertfordshire
In Hertfordshire, Royston District run a Scout and Explorer Scout camp, organised by the District team, with support from leaders in the various Scout Troops and Explorer Units. District Explorer Scout Commissioner, Stuart Sharpe, said, ‘All Scouts are invited to camp in Patrols. It’s run like a fun camping competition with lots of activities. All Scouts are encouraged to come no matter what their skills. The main idea of the event is to get Scouts in the District together to try to improve their skills.’
During the camp, a special linking activity is run for Scouts over 13 and Explorers. Stuart said, ‘Last year was crate stacking. The Scouts don’t know about it until their names are called out, then they are together supporting each other on a team activity. This way they get to know each other.’ He explains how ‘it’s important that the activity is one where the Scouts and Explorers are equals. The Scouts need to feel the Explorers are not in charge of them.’
The District finds that running linking activities as part of their District events works better than planning separate standalone linking events for the older Scouts. This way, Scouts don’t have to commit to a separate event, and may feel more comfortable, as they’re at an event with all of their peers, and it feels like a more natural progression.
Paintball day in Hereford and Worcester
In South Marches District in Hereford and Worcester, the District team got together to think about how to support the moving on to Explorers. Lee ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, one of the District Commissioners, explained how they realised ‘moving on to from Scouts to Explorers can be a difficult move when Scouts never mix with the section above them.’
The team came up with the idea of paintball, something they knew a number of the Scouts and Explorer Scouts had experienced and enjoyed through birthday parties or family events. ‘The idea was discussed at forums and there was lots of enthusiasm for a day event. Paintball is great activity to really mix the two sections up and we put information out to both Scouts and Explorers for a joint paintball day.’ Fletch explains.
The team’s organisation paid off. ‘Three coaches left South Marches District and the day proved to be a big success improving moving on between the sections. The Scouts were mixed in with the Explorers and friendships were made to aid the moving on. The paintball venue near Birmingham catered for the large group really well and the games they played allowed teams to develop. When something has gone well you can tell. There is a buzz and this was certainly evident on the journey home as the Scouts and Explorers compared battle stories and relived the different games played.’
Winter frost camp in Surrey
This January, Woking District in Surrey ran a Winter Frost camp, open to all Explorers and any Scouts due to move up. Young people from a number of Groups and Units wrapped up warm to enjoy a weekend of games and activities, including problem-solving challenges.
The event was organised by the District Explorer Scout Committee, which is made up of two representatives from each Explorer Scout Unit, supported by the District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC) and an Explorer Scout Leader. The DESC, Brian Pinto, describes that the committee ‘continues to work hard with the help of the leaders to arrange and run a number of activities for all the Explorers’.
Their hard work has paid off, with one of the new Explorers saying ‘that was great, I really enjoyed the weekend, even in the rain’, and with Scouts making comments such as ‘awesome weekend’ and asking if they could come to the next event, the event definitely achieved its aim!
Scouts are invited to the District’s linking events through a letter and welcome pack when they’re around 13 ½. This provides information about when and where the different Explorer Scout Units meet, the top awards and activity badges available in the programme, and opportunities through the Young Leaders’ Scheme. Brian explains that they aim for Scouts to be in a position to move on to Explorers at the beginning of the term nearest to their 14th birthday.
The District are also planning a camp in Devon in the summer holidays, and a weekend expedition to the Brecon Beacons in Wales in May, open to Explorers and older Scouts. On the expedition, young people will enjoy camping, cooking, hill walking and exploring. Explorers will be doing this as an expedition or practice expedition for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, and Brian said that for Scouts attending, they will be able to develop their skills and get a taste for the expedition sections of the top awards in Explorers.
Thinking of planning your own linking event? Here are some tips from volunteers:
- Plan activities that Scouts and Explorers can participate in as equals, not something that the Explorers will be better at or take charge in. This will help Scouts feel more comfortable and confident to move on.
- Involving Leaders from the various Scout Troops and Explorer Units in the planning and delivery of the event helps get the word out and increase take up.
- Find out what the young people want to do. Do Scouts have anything left to complete to achieve their Chief Scout’s Gold Award?
- Avoid May and June, as Explorer Scouts will be less likely to attend, as many of them are sitting exams.
- Are there any skills that would be useful for Scouts to further develop before they move on, to help them in Explorers? Could these be included in the event?
- Remember, Explorer Scout Young Leaders could work with leaders to plan the event, for Mission 4 of the Young Leaders’ Scheme.
Are you planning a linking event this year, and want to share your story? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.