Just before the end of the spring term, our Scout troop held a Scout Forum. This was an opportunity for Scouts to contribute their suggestions and ideas for running the troop, and give the scout leaders feedback about past meetings. It culminated in a vote on activities they would like to do next term, and this information was then fed back to me.
While some of the suggestions were traditional Scouting activities (whittling, rope swings, raft building), there were other ideas such as paintball, rugby and skiing, not normally associated with Scouts. This made me think about our expectations for Scouting: Leaders, Scouts and their parents. What do the Scouts expect to get out of Scouting, what do the Leaders think they are signing up for, and are the parents expecting their children to be instilled with Scouting values, or do they view it just as a cheap afterschool club?
Unfortunately for our Troop, paintballing is one of the three banned activities for Scouts: the others are bungee jumping and banana boating! These activities are banned either because they can cause pain, because of the rate of injury or for insurance reasons. So with the suggestions from the Scout Forum, the Scout Leaders need to design a programme that includes as many of these as feasible, but also reflects the ‘Balanced Programme’ devised to ensure variety and inclusiveness.
“The Programme is not just about the activities that Scouts can take part in (almost anything from abseiling to zorbing). It is also how we do these activities (the Methods) and our motivation in doing them (values deriving from the Scout Promise). Every time we plan an activity for our Scouts we should also consider how we might organise the activity and why we are doing it.” Scouts.org
Some of our Scouts are not particularly interested in achieving badges (too much like homework) and use the meetings purely as a social event. The social aspect of Scouts is important and, judging by the noise levels most evenings, they have plenty of opportunity for social interaction. However other Scouts in our group are much more enthusiastic about gaining badges and therefore we must provide an opportunity for them to do this through the programme.
Leaders’ expectations also vary. The Scout Leader (DH) prefers ‘greenfield’ camping (basic, no facilities) to camping at Scout activity centres. However other leaders favour the activity centres: showers, pre-arranged activities etc. SL is a keen hiker and hopes to get a few of the Scouts up a mountain or two, whereas a recent walk around our local park was deemed to be too long by one of the assistant leaders.
Of course this is one of the great things about Scouts: people come with different experiences and interests which can all be added to the pot, given a stir and hopefully a Balanced Progamme will materialise out of it! So my job this Easter break is to manage everyone’s expectations and produce an exciting programme for the summer term. Wish me luck!
Things the Scouts have been doing this month
- The Scouts rounded off the spring term with a campfire evening. First they played a wide game in the dark (head torches come in handy). Followed by campfire songs (‘Boom, Chicka Boom’, ‘Baby Shark’ and ‘My Name is Moe’), sausages and S’Mores.
- Some of the Troop attended an Easter Camp at Walton Firs. Activities included: Frisbee golf (like on the Wii, but for real), assault course, shelter building and campfire cooking.
Things the Scout Leader has been up to this month
- Further training weekends: Nights Away Permit. This will allow the SL to take Scouts away overnight, such as taking a group walking and lightweight camping. Next training weekend includes staying overnight with the other Leaders on the course. Hope no-one snores!
- I also attended a District Scout Leader meeting as the SL was otherwise engaged (i.e. he really didn’t want to go!). This involved a rather dry evening being given information that could have been passed on via email. I think this is one of the problems for the ‘younger’ leaders: time is very precious and it’s one thing to give up time to plan and attend your troop meetings but attending training sessions and additional meetings, is not easy. Older leaders, especially those at district level, are often retired and Scouting has become their social life. As the SL says:
“I’ve got enough friends and a family to hang out with, I haven’t got time to socialise with a bunch of Scout Leaders too!”