Scouting gives young people the skills to succeed in life. Many young people benefit every single week from the work that dedicated volunteers do for them. It’s not always the big things like trips, camps or adventurous activities; sometimes it’s the little things like giving them some independence, teaching them social skills or getting them to work in a team.

We know that 73% of parents believe that Scouting gives young people the skills to succeed in life[1] but what are these skills? The most important type of skills identified by parents are character, employability and practical – exactly what Scouting offers young people and adults every week!

It’s not all about knots anymore.
Sure – we may have heard this a few times but actually, there are many skills that perhaps aren’t deemed as important anymore (according to members of the national population) that can still provide the skills for life that our young people need in modern life. Learning how to tie the Fisherman’s Knot probably doesn’t seem that important to most young people – naturally, they’ll look it up on Google; but what they can learn is the ability to work in teams and get the sense of achievement that is definitely more important than being able to tie a single knot.

Taking the Chariot Challenge

38th Rossendale Scouts take on the Chariot Challenge!

38th Rossendale Scouts take on the Chariot Challenge!

Something that I’ve done in my Scout Troop recently is exactly the opposite of what most people would have expected me to do; as a leadership team we opted to teach nearly 40 Scouts some basic pioneering knots. Not because we wanted them to know how to tie a round turn and two half hitches, but because we wanted something basic that they could do to reinforce the skills for life that we’re trying to teach them.

I set the Scouts a challenge – in patrols, they had to make their best chariot; something that a member of their team could sit on and be carried around a defined track. There were a variety of methods talked about but the one thing that everyone managed to do was achieve the task – even the one Scout who said “I don’t like knots, they’re boring.”

One of my Scouts has a broken wrist, so she’s not able to take part in this activity as much as she’d like to, but perhaps the best thing that I’ve seen for a while is how the Scouts didn’t see this as a problem. They just adapted to it, worked as a team, employed initiative, determination and resilience while the Scout with the broken wrist worked on her independence and leadership skills. I watched this for some time with interest and then I asked her a question – “how are you going to be able to carry the chariot with your wrist?”. A very valid question in my opinion, I was perfectly happy to change the brief to make allowances but the answer I got back shocked me. “I’m not, I’m going to sit on the chariot instead.”

Now I just feel stupid. In the time it took me to think about how I could change the brief of the activity to suit everyone in my Troop and which of the Scouts was possibly the lightest to sit on the chariot, a team of Scouts, working together with their initiative, determination and independence had already solved it. Simple really.

Social skills, independence and teamwork skills were very much apart of this activity – although thankfully we didn’t need their first aid skills!

Life-changing adventure and skills for life is what Scouting is all about, but it’s the latter that provides your programme to achieve the former.

Click here to download your own Skills for Life Research Poster.

[1]Source: fast.MAP survey of 1,002 parents, April 2016