As East Lancashire’s County Youth Commissioner, one of my predominant goals is to promote youth shaped Scouting in partnership with adults across the County. The partnership aspect of youth shaped Scouting is so important; the experience and expertise of adult members of the movement is key in helping young people develop their own skills.

The best way for me to illustrate this is by using myself as an example. In 2013, at 18 years old, I attended my Group International trip to France as a Leader. It was fantastic and I absolutely loved participating in all of the activities and seeing the young people enjoy themselves. But it was very clear that a lot of hard work had been put into the organisation of the trip by the Group Scout Leader at the time. I began to wonder, could I play a part in the organisation of the trip?

In 2014, the Group made the same trip again, but this time I played a large role in the planning of the trip, as the deputy trip organiser. I organised the members into activity and travel groups, I communicated with the site we were using in France, I helped place the clothing orders for the matching hoodies and t-shirts for the members. Then, once we were in France, I had a large amount of responsibility over the effective running of the trip and the young people. Again, it was an absolutely fantastic trip and I felt incredibly satisfied knowing that I had helped make it happen.

After this trip, the original trip organiser decided she would rather not be the organiser for the next international trip. Without hesitation I offered to take the responsibility, and she opted to become the deputy. So this summer, in August 2016, at 21 years old, I was responsible for running an international trip to France for 80 of 38th Rossendale Scout Group’s members. And it was incredible (if I do say so myself!)

Emma Cooper

Emma Cooper, County Youth Commissioner

If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I would have been running that trip, I’d have thought you were mad. But I have honestly never been so proud of myself and what I have achieved through Scouting, because seeing the smiles on the young people’s faces made all of the stress, worrying and time commitment worthwhile.

But the truth behind all of this? I could never have done it without the original trip organiser. As a much more experienced Scout member, she patiently taught me and worked in partnership with me to ensure the very best outcome for the young people. It has been a long process, over a number of years, during which I have gradually learnt and developed. I did not achieve this on my own, that has to be made clear, I achieved this as part of a team, in which a partnership between an older and younger leader resulted in a successful trip abroad for 80 Scouts.

Youth shaped Scouting is not about replacing older members of the movement, it is about working together to develop young people to become leaders of the future. They are the future of the movement, and in order to do just that, move, we must work in partnership to ensure the very best future for Scouting. If you are reading this and think ‘I could help organise a trip/event’ or ‘Perhaps a younger leader might help me run a trip/event’, then go for it! We are all capable of making a difference.

As a result of that leader giving me the opportunity to develop my own skills and capability, I am now looking forward to planning our next international trip in 2018! A huge thank you to Louise, for being so patient and believing in me.