by Joanne Carey, Olly White and Mick Hides

The Young Leader scheme is now an integral part of many sections and districts making a valuable contribution to the successful delivery of scouting since the approach was introduced in 2001.

East Lancashire have taken this a stage further by mapping a 4 year integrated journey from Explorer scout to Adult Wood badge holder. Far from being novel, the combined Young Leader and Training Team have exploited existing resources to create the first such programme which can be seen below.

The ‘Journey’ pulls together a number of complementary programmes (Young Leader award, Chief/Queen Scout Awards, and Duke of Edinburgh Awards) into a single map supported by both Young Leader and Adult Training Teams.

The Young People involved have the choice of taking either the individual Young Leader or Explorer path or a combined (both) and complementary path depending on their #skillsforlife or #reachthetop aspirations.

One such route is volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and it is important for section leaders looking to accommodate this resource that the Young Leader must complete Module A before commencing in the section. Where the young volunteer has come from outside of scouting this is an excellent opportunity to recruit new members.

East Lancashire Scouts offer a Young Leader weekend where new Young Leaders are taken through all the modules (except First Aid) covering many of the topics in the Adult Wood badge scheme. This produces an enthusiastic, competent and trained resource up to date on current safeguarding and programme planning thinking.

The Young Leaders are then tasked with translating this knowledge into actions as they work towards their Young Leader award by completing 4 Missions. The Missions are all focused on delivering within the section so are a great opportunity for supporting the section and Section Leaders. Section Leaders can support and nurture this talent by allowing the Young Leader a voice at programme planning meetings and slots within the Programme and signing off the completed work. Leaders with a proven track record of quality Scouting are also empowered to become mentors for the next generation of adult leaders. Where this works well, the Young Leaders deliver key parts of the programme although it is important to remember that they are still young people with appropriate adult supervision.

One Scout Group embracing the Explorer Scout Young Leader programme is 38th Rossendale where the extra support is invaluable in meeting the needs of the 200 young people attending meetings throughout each busy week.

“There’s no two ways about it, for me Young leaders are essential members of any Leadership team. Carefully managed they are full of ideas and ways to implement them. We have to remember they’re significantly closer to our members age and have a better idea of what our members like and don’t like about the activities we do. They are our future section leaders; support and nurture them, be receptive and the future of Scouting will be looking good.”
Pete West
Section Leader (Red Troop)
38th Rossendale (Open) Scout Group

“The Young Leader programme brings with it valuable additional resources to a Section meeting. The Young Leaders engage with the younger members at a level that sometimes an adult Leader is unable to. They take on important roles such as programme planning and implementation. The Young Leader programme not only aides Sections but provides the Young Leaders with #SkillsForLife and prepares them for an adult Leader role in the future.”
Andrew Cooper
Group Scout Leader
38th Rossendale (Open) Scout Group

The achievement of a Young Leader award should not be seen as a conclusion but rather the start of the transition phase towards an adult role and Wood Badge. During this time the Young Leader can continue to develop skills as well as gathering evidence to support adult Wood Badge validation. A clear distinction is made between Young Leader award evidence and Wood Badge validation to ensure the same activity is not used for both.

The culmination of the 4 year journey is the transition weekend. Held every July for ex-Young Leaders with a full adult record, this weekend focuses on upskilling from Young Leader Scheme to Adult Wood Badge underpinned by FS 330094. This means the entire Wood Badge can be revisited during a weekend and when supported by a team of trainers and facilitators both learning and validation can be undertaken simultaneously in a ‘Simpler Training’ approach.

Running the training only once per year and for those just missing the cut off date has prompted the challenge that it is easier to complete the existing Adult Training.

However as can be seen above the benefits for the Young Leader completing the transition speak for themselves. But don’t take our word for it this is what two successful candidates from the class of 2018 have to say.

When I started to young lead at St Michael and St johns’ beavers, I had little confidence on how to treat the young people and how to plan activities that would suit the children in the group. Through completing the young leader weekend, I gained the skills I needed to feel confident in being able to plan appropriate activities for the section I was now helping to lead. I also gained the confidence I needed to be able to run the activities with the beavers and make them fun and engaging. Through beaver I was able to complete my young leader belt and become even more confident in being able to run the sessions weekly along with the other leaders at the group. When I turned 18, I was able to make the transition for a young leader who helped out to a section leader who ran the group through the help of the transition weekend as it gave the skills and information I needed, such as planning trips and safeguarding, to be able to run the group with confidence in my abilities as a leader. Even with all these skills and training it was a bit nerve wracking becoming a section leader at 18 as there is always the fear that something could happen and I won’t have the answers or experience to deal with the situation properly, however I remember that I always have people that I can turn to for help and guidance when I need them.
Livy Carey
Beaver Section Leader
St Michael’s & St John’s Clitheroe (Loyola) Scout Group

The Young Leader training gave me general social skills and I learnt about different leadership styles as well as how to apply myself in leading situations. The Young Leader award helped my CV and was a good entry to the Transition weekend. The Transition weekend was a quick and for me an easy with everything done in a weekend. The move from Young Leader to Adult Section Leader was a big step but the Transition weekend helped bridge the gap. Everyone was of a similar age so it was good to mix and engage with other Network members.
Rebekah Lawrence
Cub Section Leader
Bold Venture Scout Group

Young Leaders are the section leaders, Group Scout Leaders and Commissioners of tomorrow and it is all our responsibility to nurture this vital succession pipeline. Although a long term solution to the current adult leadership shortfall the success of this programme will guarantee a sustainable future.

Want to find out how Young Leaders can make a difference in your section? – Talk to Joanne or Olly to find out more.