It’s often said that Scouting develops leaders of the future. There is much merit in this thinking, with many of those in todays world who are seen as having influence, sporting a Scouting ‘Pedigree’. It would also be hard to argue that the Scouting programme provides many opportunities for self development and the acquisation of leadership skills.

However, there is a growing movement among Scouting that believe that our youth members from Beavers to Network, are our leaders of today. Membership of this ‘new movement’ is not confined to our vibrant youth members, in fact much of the trust to empower our young people come from experieced and dare we say ‘veterian’ leaders. You see, Scouts NI have not only embraced the ‘Youth Shape’ approach to Scouting but in many areas we go far and beyond set presidents to give our young people the opportunity to shine, define their Scouting experience and to lead it.

Scouts NI Parol Leader Training Weekend

On the 9th to 11th March, a great example of youth shape Scouting was evident in a Patrol Leaders weekend at Crawfordsburn. 34 Scouts attended the weekend that was prodominately lead by new trainers between the ages of 18 and 24.

The focus of the weekend was directed through a forum held on the Friday evening, where the young people told the leadership team exactly the type of event they wanted and the knowledge and skills they required to be effective leaders in todays movement. Areas identified were, leadership skills, communication, team dynamics, respect and a healthy dose of fun with as much mud as possible please!’.

Our Patrol leaders undertook activities that developed Planning ability, identification of areas they could offer assistance to the Troop, taking the lead, ensuring Troop members were ready to undertake tasks and activities, organising activities and rescources and learning from experiences. Sound familiar? Our young people are given the opportunity to learn the same core leadership skills as our adult leaders, equiping them to be great leaders and to be a fantastic resource to their troop and the other leaders.


Needless to say, great fun was had by all and the feedback given by the young people showed that the weekend provided them with the knowledge and skills they had requested. They also reported they had more fun and mud than they could have wished for!

The Scout Patrol Leaders were not the only attendees who benefited from the weekend, as previously mentioned, the weekend was prodominately run by three new trainers. These Scouts (network members) all showed the ‘evolution’ of Scouting with each of them having a different Scouting background and length of experience but being able to bring the leadership qualities from their own Scouting experience to develop others.

Scouting for all – even those over 25

There was a degree of support for all this Youth Shape Scouting in the form of a few ‘older’ Leaders. A vital part in allowing our young people to develop and discover, is to have a support network available to offer guidance and be available to assist. It is importent that we never forget, we are all on a Scouting journey and enjoying the opportunties available, regardless of our experience or age. Tim Kid summed it up in an interview last year when he said “Scouting is a right of every young person, and a priviledge of every adult’.


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