Why do we volunteer within the Scout movement? It’s a question that no doubt we have all asked ourselves from time to time. The answer is quite simple: for the young people.

Adult volunteers and young leaders who work hard week in week out to provide an adventurous, valuable and successful programme all have the same goal; to enhance the lives of young people. As part of The Scout Association’s Vision2018, being youth shaped has become integral to the development of Scouting. But what is ‘youth shaped Scouting’? What does it mean? How can we implement it? I’ve put together a quick and simple guide to youth shaped Scouting to help you embed it in your programme and decision making!

What does it mean?

Youth shaped Scouting is literally what it says, the youth shaping their Scouting! But it is so important to remember that this should be in partnership with adults. Without supportive adults we could never implement what the young people want to do.

How can we do it?

However you want! The chances are, you probably already do it without realising. It can be as simple as asking what badges they would like to do, where they would like to go on camp or what game they would like to play. But it could also be having a young person on your local Exec or holding a group or district youth forum to help develop and impact Scouting at different levels.

Why is it important?

Our young people are hugely valuable, and we should be letting them know that. We should be making all members of the movement feel empowered, valued and proud, and this is a fantastic way to do it. The young people are leaders of the future, and if we can allow them to make decisions and impact their own Scouting experience then we are helping them develop extremely valuable skills that will prove helpful longterm.

It should be FUN!

Youth shaped Scouting does not have to be difficult or boring. The word ‘forum’ can create a certain image, but if you’re embedding it within the programme then it will be fun! Play a game that incorporates some decision making, have a snowball fight (more on this in a minute) or make it into a competition. Whatever works for you. There is no rigid structure to youth shaped Scouting, it is what you want it to be.

What else?

There are packs provided by The Scout Association that make it incredibly easy to run a YouShape meeting. Check out https://members.scouts.org.uk/youshape for the relevant pack for your section and see how easy and fun it can be to be youth shaped! Remember the snowball fight I mentioned? You can find out just how to do that by using these packs.

And remember…

This is not a new concept. Baden-Powell founded the Scout movement on a youth shaped basis by letting the young people plan and run their own programme. We are simply going back to basics and implementing what BP intended Scouting to be like for the young people.

So, to go back to my original statement, why do we volunteer? For the young people. And why should we be youth shaped? For the young people. If we listen to what the young people really want then they will continue to enjoy Scouting and that really is the most important thing within all of this.