Encouraging Moving on From Scouts to Explorers

Links Between Scout Troop & Explorer Scout Unit

 

The aim is for all Scouts to become Explorer Scouts. The Scout Leader (SL) and Explorer Scout Leader (ESL) will, with the support of the Group Scout Leader (GSL) and District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC), or their representatives, ensure that effective transfer of Members takes place in a timely manner.

Every year the SL will provide details of Scouts aged 13 and over to the ESL and to the District Explorer Scout Administrator (DESA).

Encouraging Moving on From Scouts to Explorers – An Important Update

 

Recent surveys and discussions with Explorers at District and Regional level have given a good insight into the transition process. The dropout level between Scouts and Explorers is much higher than between the younger Sections. The SL and ESL should consider the following and develop co-ordinated programmes and communication relevant to their members to increase retention:

Factors preventing Scouts from moving on to Explorers:

  • Lack of information about Explorers.
  • Fear of the unknown – moving out of their comfort zone.
  • Moving on is not promoted by Scout Leaders.
  • Scouts leave before completing their time there (14) because:
    • They have nothing to look forward to (lack of information).
    • There is no special consideration given to the older group in Scouts.
    • The programme is repeating for the benefit of the younger group.
    • They feel disengaged.
    • Their own cohort leaves or ages out.
    • They do not know enough people outside their own troop.

What might help
Scouts meet Explorers on a number of occasions, including information sessions.

  • Scouts meet Explorers on a number of occasions, including information sessions
    • The people making contact should be engaging and passionate about Explorers.
  • There are joint events involving older Scouts and Explorers:
    • Taster sessions.
    • Explorer participation in District (Scout) camps.
    • Ensure that older Scouts keep in touch with friends who have moved up.
    • Scouts know people who have joined Explorers.
    • Scouts know who else will be joining – “The more people you know the more likely you will join.”

What the ESL, SL and Explorer Scout Leader – Young Leaders (ESL-YL) can do:

  • Leaders should celebrate moving on.
  • Scout leaders should not regard this as ‘losing their Scouts’.
  • Scout leaders should engage fully with District and local Explorer Unit(s).
  • Scout and Explorer Scout Leaders should plan their programmes actively to promote transition.
  • Leaders should encourage ESYLs on placement at the Scout Troop to talk about Explorers and possibly “buddy up” with Scouts during their early weeks in Explorers.
  • All leaders should know about the Chief Scout’s Award and include it in the programme.
  • Scout Leaders should inform Scouts that they can complete the Chief Scout’s Gold Award in Explorers, and Explorer Leaders should know and support this.


Specific recommendations

  • Scouts are more likely to transfer if they move with their friends and those in the same school cohort/year (typically S2), so we should do everything possible to inform and encourage the cohort to consider transitioning together, rather than basing it on specific age.  There is flexibility and this should be discussed well in advance by the SL and ESL.
  • Don’t delay transfer to allow completion of the CSA Gold Award – this can and should be completed in Explorers and allows them to start Explorers as part of their school cohort [in their S2 year].
  • Make sure Scouts are aware there are Top Awards in Explorers and that the ones relevant for them as new Explorers are the DofE Bronze Award, the linked Platinum Award, and the Young Leader’s Training Scheme.
  • DofE Bronze and the YL Training Scheme are very popular with Explorer Scouts and their parents and usually seen as important opportunities to gain Skills for Life and evidence them in personal statements and applications for college, jobs etc.  We should, therefore, promote these and encourage them to register at the point they transfer, and have support to allow them to get started and engaged with Explorers quickly.

    Include parents in this communication so they are aware of these opportunities. They have an important role to support/encourage younger Explorer Scout to increase their skills in these more self-directed Awards. This has also proven an excellent means to recruit parents as additional adult volunteers.

  • Consider opportunities to provide a taste of Explorer Scouts and to continue and build on achievements in the Scout section, such as:
    • Blair Atholl satellite camp
    • Zodiac Award
    • Activity badges that span the sections – First Aid, Water Activities, Camping

 

Network in Lockdown

Network in Lockdown

Like many groups and sections across the Region, our Networks have remained busy during lockdown, finding creative ways to meet online or carry out areas of programme individually.

Online meetings have included quizzes, an escape room and a number of different games. They have also been a great opportunity to socialise with other young people, discuss issues such as finding work or continuing to study during lockdown, and to stay connected.

There has also been a focus on top awards by many Networkers across the region. In the Borders they have met frequently to discuss their work on Duke of Edinburgh Gold and the Queens Scout Award, and planning has begun for an expedition once those can be held again. There have also been one-to-one discussions between District Scout Network Commissioners and individuals about specific parts of their awards, with new and creative ideas of how to continue during lockdown coming to the fore.

Some members have taken advantage of the fact that the Scouts of the World Award Discovery events have moved online. This has meant that individuals have been able to make a start on this award without having to travel across the UK to attend this crucial first part. Hopefully this will lead eventually to the first Networker from the region gaining this elusive award.

During lockdown the UK have also been recruiting young people for the next World Scout Moot in Ireland in 2022, and Networkers across the region have been applying. A moot is like a jamboree for those aged 18-26, and is an opportunity to meet scouts from around the world and to join in a wide variety of activities. There will be a second round of recruitment, and you can find out more and register your interest on the contingent website.

Talk is now turning to meeting up again in person soon, with various ideas being discussed. For the moment, while those over 18 are limited to groups of people from only 5 households, these ideas are for small groups. However, Network will continue to adapt as the current situation evolves, hopefully with a return to more adventurous activities sooner rather than later.  

If you are aged 18-24 and what to find out more, why not get in touch with your local District Network? If you need help identifying the correct person to contact, please reach out to the Region and we can put you in touch. 

 

Laura Gilman
Assistant Regional Commissioner, Network
laurathered@hotmail.com 

More on “DofE canoe expedition training…”

More on “DofE canoe expedition training…”

As highlighted in last month’s newsletter, the Coronavirus lockdown hasn’t stopped a group of 16 Explorers from Craigalmond, Braid, Pentland and West Lothian Districts starting the training for their Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) expeditions by canoe…online.  It came about from the chance encounter of a Leader with interests in enhancing the uptake of paddle sport in Scouting and an Assistant Regional Commissioner knowing about an unmet desire amongst Explorers to do their DofE expedition by some other means than hiking.  After discussions with the Explorers’ DESCs over coffees and cake, a plan was agreed.  Its lead, Steve Hankin, picks up with what’s been achieved despite coronavirus and the latest developments to enhance paddle expeditions across the Region…

Having got the go-ahead and the opportunity to work with a ready-made group of Explorers keen to do their Silver or Gold Award expeditions by canoe, the plan involved a mix of shore-based and on-water training & practice, covering all the aspects needed for an expedition by canoe.  A number of elements (e.g. campcraft, first aid, navigation, route planning and risk assessment) were going to be done in conjunction with the hike-based training programmes for the DofE Awards running jointly between the Craigalmond, Braid and Pentland Districts.  It was all coming together nicely.  Then came lockdown.

Not wanting to lose the interest or momentum, and knowing that the DofE Training Frameworks have a substantive amount of knowledge development as well as skills development, we proposed to make good use of the time by delivering the knowledge-based aspects of the training programme through a series of 8 weekly online sessions using a mix of interactive and instructional activities.

Content for each week was developed to suit online meetings, using images & short videos, discussions captured on the Zoom Whiteboard, quiz questions and break-out rooms.  Covering the basics about safety, equipment, parts of the canoe and even what the different paddling strokes look like, is intended to help the paddlers feel a little more prepared for getting on the water once face-to-face Scouting resumes.  A Leader team made up of two DESCs, a DofE Leader and an Explorer Leader ensured online safeguarding and provided invaluable support to the sessions with input from their experiences on and off the water.

Having completed the initial knowledge training, feedback from the Explorers has been positive (“The sessions have been really enjoyable and built a good foundation of our paddling skills” Callum Smith, Cramond ESU) and interest in continuing sessions over the summer has been expressed by the majority taking part. The Explorers have put forward suggestions for further online meetings they want to do, including discussion of expedition food & menu planning, a quiz and a DofE Q&A session to give them some insight into what’s expected in the expedition’s assessment.

Getting the training underway during lockdown is intended to have numerous benefits, some obvious and some that are perhaps more subtle.  The sessions have given the group (from six ESUs) the early opportunity to get to know each other and the Leader team, as well as helping them develop their knowledge of something that’s new to many of them.  Whilst the Explorers all have different paddle sport abilities, they share a common goal of wanting a new challenge in how they do their DofE expeditions.

It’s very much hoped that this new initiative in training, practice and support for paddle expeditions and longer-term skills development, will encourage young people in Scouting to take up the opportunity to pass on their knowledge and skills to those embarking on paddle expeditions in the years ahead.  To support this and establish a base for local DofE paddle expedition training, developments are underway to reactivate the Explorer Scout Unit based at Longcraig Scout Water Activity Centre over the coming months and establish a programme for Explorers to gain skills in paddle- and water-sports activities and leadership that can contribute towards their Top Awards and, in time, as part of the ESYL programme and the long-term sustainability of skills at Longcraig.

If you are interested in any of this, or have Explorers looking to do their expedition by canoe in 2021 and interested in training, get in touch!

Steve Hankin
Assistant Scout Leader
steve.hankin@yahoo.com

Salmonberry clean-up by Pink Panther and Cramond Explorers

Salmonberry clean-up by Pink Panther and Cramond Explorers

On 19th January, 30 explorer scouts and leaders from Pink Panthers Explorers and Cramond explorers chopped down, pulled up and burned the invasive Salmonberry from Corstorphine hill.

Salmonberry is an incredibly fast-growing invasive plant species which is native to the west coast of America from Alaska all the way to California, meaning it is very versatile and grows easily in very different climates. Salmonberry can become very woody and hard to manage if left to its own devices and sprouts can grow very quickly from the main roots. It may also become difficult for us and animals to walk through if allowed to grow too large. Salmonberry can end up killing the other plants around it as they no longer receive the sunlight they require to grow. It can also prevent plants from growing for the same reasons.  

The Explorers spent the day tirelessly working to pull up these plants and large roots. Everyone got stuck in, especially when burning the Salmonberry!

 They managed to clear a huge area of Corstorphine hill saving many of the native plants and wildlife from this invasive plant and encourages the woods to flourish. Halfway through the day there was a delicious BBQ prepared by the ASU which gave everyone the energy for a final push. Our explorers were rewarded for their efforts with a trip up Corstorphine tower. A huge thank you goes to the rangers and Friends of Corstorphine Hill for allowing us access to the tower itself.

 Many of our explorers also used this project as an opportunity to achieve parts of their platinum or diamond chief scout awards. To achieve these top awards the explorers need to complete either bronze or silver DofE and also 2 or 4 activities on top of that from a list. This Salmonberry clear up gave our explorers the opportunity to research and participate in an environmental project that helps to improve their local environment. As a group we plan to make this project an annual event as although the explorers cleared a huge amount of the salmonberry there is still a lot to do before the incredibly invasive species that is salmonberry is almost completely eradicated, or a lot more tightly controlled, from Corstorphine hill. Hopefully as this gains traction even more young people and leaders from Cramond Explorers and Pink Panthers explorers will participate in this worthwhile event next year.

2nd Haddington Explorer Scouts Bushcraft & Survival Weekend

2nd Haddington Explorer Scouts Bushcraft & Survival Weekend

On Friday 4th October the 2nd Haddington Explorers ventured out to the idyllic location of Bolton Muir Woods, where we spent the weekend wild camping.

When everyone arrived, we spread out and found their ideal location to pitch their tents and hang their hammocks.

Task accomplished, we worked in collaboration to peg out a large parachute where we socialised and ate. Fulfilled, we went to bed.

Saturday morning bright and early we all made our way out of bed, where we ate breakfast and went over the itinerary for the day.

The main jobs for the day were building a table, prepping our meals, collecting/chopping firewood and creating a shelter where we would spend our second night.

The shelter took up the majority of our day as we built a structure out of wood and layered bracken over the top to make it more water resistant and add insulation.

After our achievement we dressed the game and prepped the veg for dinner. Once dinner was finished, we spent a cold and wet night in the shelter.

Once we woke up and finished breakfast, we packed our bags but left our tents for later.

Neville Kilkenny came and educated us about the different types of fungi and how to identify them. After we ventured further into the forest we chopped and cook the edible mushrooms we had collected and had them for our lunch. We didn’t have long left until we had to leave so we packed up the remaining of our equipment and left.

Badge Activity Mapping Charts

Badge Activity Mapping Charts

The 1st Facebook sites for Scouts, Cubs and Beavers are a great source of information and resources for each section

Recently, the following Badge Mapping Charts for Scouts, Cubs and Beavers were posted and the feedback from users both nationally and in our region has been excellent – they can be found below.

If you have any feedback on them, or you want to review the additional resources available you can do so via the relevant 1st Facebook site below – you will need to join the group initially.