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Hey Explorers let's have a chat - Young Leader Conference

2nd November 2015

Things can only get better Explorers, let’s have a chat

As I write for Devon Scouts once more I am finishing at the Young Leaders “Conference and Training” weekend (16th-18th October) - unfortunately with a cold, but never mind. This is my third weekend in a row Scouting: first was winning the Boot Challenge at Caddihoe again; second was at a local camp helping with Scouts and Beavers. However, this weekend is not one of many, this weekend is close to my heart as a Young Leader. Training is a core part of what we do, it helps us to put our ideas into practice and then making things happen. It helps to challenge our ideas - and often also our misconceptions - about the amazing possibilities in Scouting.

Scouting in Devon should be, and will be in future, youth shaped - young people shaping Scouting in partnership with adults - and I am excited by this. Young people are being given more opportunities to say what they want to do in Scouting and where they want to go, both in terms of travel and the direction of the organisation. However, this is not a radical idea, in fact it harks back to the time of Lord Baden-Powell in 1907. When he wrote ‘Scouting for Boys’ he intended for the boys to lead, led by patrol leaders - not men in khaki shorts taking command. As the movement grew it needed a structure headed by adult leaders. Fast forward to 2015, and although the structure remains, Devon Scouts is working harder than ever to listen to the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers; all of whom have an opinion to be heard.

We spent the weekend of the 17th and 18th, first of all being trained for this bright new future and secondly invited to give input into what this could be. The idea of training is not to induct you in a mystical order, but merely to clear the fog of how to be a good Young Leader - and my goodness me, doesn’t the fog clear rapidly during training! It enables us to be effective in our roles and outgoing in our ambition for our sections. During the weekend our ambition became obvious at he point of tallying the total, it came to 281 modules completed between 66 Young Leaders - with one Young Leader belt achieved as well! - which is a credit to all involved. But how do we carry this on and take it back to empower ourselves and our sections? Well our Youth Shaped Explorer and Young Leader conference on the Sunday looked at this.

The conference opened on the question: what are Explorers? This became question set the tone for the rest of the event. With Explorers already being a highly youth shaped section what actually are they to do? To what extent should they be involved as Young Leaders? As the day progressed we split off into groups and discussed how to implement our ideas practically and what challenges do we face. The conclusion that we came to about the future Explorers was a good place to start: Explorers should be more informed, with more transparency both from Units about ‘subs’ and county-wide about the possibilities available; Young leaders, as Explorers, should be more connected and given more opportunities to develop themselves as leaders; More leaders should be made aware of the benefits that Explorers and Explorers as Young Leaders can bring to events and section activities. Two consequences of the discussion is clear, Devon needs to have a YouShape event in the near-future and appoint a Youth Commissioner; both I’m delighted to say are being acted upon.

So the future of Explorers in Devon is bright with growth recorded again on the census. Youth shaped Scouting is working and doing amazing things, Run To The Fun’s ‘Devon Handies’ and the Conference are all good examples of this. We need to keep the push going for all sections, not just Explorers, to get their voice heard and supported. We should not confuse ourselves, there is a lot to do as part of Vision 2018, but it’s achievable! We are all capable of amazing things, even if it is just Listening.

Joshua Yelland

Axe Air Explorers, East Devon

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