During the Covid pandemic there have been many challenges to continuing Young Leader (YL) training – it’s not possible to hold face 2 face meetings as normal; leaders have been under additional personal demands/pressures and don’t have the same time available; in larger geographic districts it’s not practical to travel longer distances for District training, Explorers have been locked down at home.

There have been a couple of very creative approaches in Braid/Pentland and Craigalmond to continue to support a Top Award and valuable leadership skills training for Explorers, which are outlined below. Given the ongoing uncertainty around how Scouting can take place, it is important that we continue to offer the best possible experience to all our young people, including Young Leaders and the sections they support. The key to delivering YL training has to be flexibility, using online technology to supplement or replace traditional f2f sessions while providing as much interaction as possible – for instance, by using older YLs to lead breakout sessions.  It could be that we end up with better methods of delivery than before!  Grateful thanks are due to all those who have managed to keep YL training going.  Leaders from other Districts are welcome to get in touch with John Buchanan to discuss YL training: explorers@sesscouts.org.uk

    1. Craigalmond – Using Zoom and Explorers who have completed their YL Belt training to facilitate online workshops
        • With the start of the lockdown in March the Craigalmond YL team wanted to help the 100 Young Leaders in the District to progress with their Modules when much of their normal activities and Scouting was impacted, with online training via Zoom as our preferred option, but with the challenge of keeping as many of the positives of face-face training where Young Leaders from different Units work together in teams on practical groupwork, and there is the opportunity for discussion, Q&A and feedback throughout the session.
        • After a pilot Zoom session, the detailed feedback from Young Leaders was very positive, with 87% agreeing it was as effective as previous training, 93% that the group exercises worked, 99% that the trainer provided the right amount of support during the session, and 87% felt more confident understanding their section.
        • Based on this, a total of 5 weekly sessions ran in June/July, with an average of 20 Young Leaders attending each session, with 97 Modules completed in all.  A majority (38%) preferred the Zoom-based training which surprised us, with 29% favouring the usual face-face training, and the remainder with no strong preference.
        • While we could have simply used the original training course, there are three things put in place to encourage interactivity and engagement even though we weren’t all meeting face-face:
          • Reduce sessions to 1 ¼ hours maximum – as it is difficult concentrate online for as long as a face-face session
          • Send out information and exercises before the session that can be completed individually beforehand and capture the inputs for the session on Google forms so we could focus on interactive activities during the Zoom session.
          • Ask five of our most experienced Young Leaders to facilitate Breakout sessions where the newer Young Leaders could work in small groups of 5 on exercises and examples with their input and guidance
        • From this experience, when we return to face-face training there are improvements we can make based on our experience:
          • Continue to involve our most experienced Young Leaders in peer-led training- they have a lot of great experience, and can relate this effectively to the Young Leaders, as well as sharing ideas and tips on completing missions with their sections.
          • There are some parts of the training where Zoom provides a better and more convenient forum – and we will aim to use it alongside face-face training.
          • We’ll provide some training and exercises for Young Leaders to complete individually at a time when it’s convenient and they can easily access tools and information online, rather than use time during face-face sessions.
          • Pentland and Braid’s use of OSM looks promising as it can be difficult to support Young Leaders progressing with their missions given they volunteer with many different Sections across the District and may not be in regular face-face contact with the leaders who support them.
        • And finally, a very big thank you to our most experienced Young Leaders Niamh, James, Angus, Rory, Calum, Sandy and Callum who volunteered to help, for their enthusiasm, energy and help in running the Breakout rooms.

     2. The Braid and Pentland Young Leader Website

    • In April 2020, the Braid District Young Leader Team alongside the Pentland District Young Leader Team started the project of putting Young Leaders online. This project was driven through consultation with Young Leaders from both districts, which provided us with the purpose of providing information on how Young Leaders can achieve their Modules at home and work towards their Missions in the background of their time being a Young Leader. The website can be found here at youngleadertraining.online 
    • The Team of 5 Leaders working together with a shared objective, with all Leaders fulfilling different roles from web-development to module writing. In August 2020, the Team received feedback from Scouts UK which resulted in an official endorsement which can be seen on the Scouts UK website. Over the last 6 months which the website has been active, the website has generated over 3000 visits from all over the UK which has been a fantastic achievement for the Team.
    • The purpose of this project was to enable all Young Leaders to continue their development in their own time, by ensuring that all activities can be achieved via working with a household member or themselves. Through utilising the system of Online Scout Manager, the team offered the submission of modules and missions via the badges at home section which allowed Young Leaders to submit their evidence and ask questions, whilst having the opportunity to receive feedback which was complying with all safeguarding requirements.
    • Both Braid and Pentland Districts have received great feedback from all users across the UK, however, most importantly both districts have received an increase in Young Leaders participating in their modules and mission developments.
    • Due to the demand from both districts’ Young Leaders, in September 2020 training restarted as another method of offering Young Leader Training via Zoom which is held twice a month at full capacity.
    • Please see below for testaments from Explorers, who have provided us feedback:

    Arran (Explorer Young Leader) “I personally found the website easy to use and navigate round, to be honest it took a while to change to working through young leader stuff on a solo arrangement, but once I started, I got through easily enough!”

    Rory (Explorer Young Leader) “I really enjoy participating in the modules online, I find them helpful and informative as I go through them!”

    Sam (Explorer Young Leader) “The website is a very quick and easy way of completing the modules and working towards the missions. You gain so many valuable skills that can not only be used as a Young Leader, but in life!”

    Chris (Explorer Young Leader) “I am a new Explorer Young Leader and through the website, I was able to complete four modules during the summer months which kept me busy. The website is good as it means you are not waiting for the module to be offered, so means you can get on with your training!”