"So far our most successful example was when our Kims assisted our Cub Scouts in planning an adventure to Vancouver. The majority of our kids really wanted to go there, as they have not been. They planned their weekend to travel to Stanley Park to eat their bagged lunch and then explore the Seawall and lighthouse and enjoy the ocean. They incorporated a dinner at McDonalds as well as the overnight at Science World. They planned the event using laptops to google information about nearby food options, google maps to get there and things to do nearby Science World. We took 14 Cubs, six Scouts and four Scouters on an insanely successful overnight to Vancouver. The kids were able to 'Review' the event with the biggest hiccup being the weather (unexpected monsoon rain the entire time we were at the beach). They all agreed that the decision to stop at the dollar store to buy $1.25 rain ponchos on the way down was the best suggestion of the weekend; they sure came in handy! They realized that they should pack an entire extra outfit and rain-gear next time. They also decided that they would like the trip to be longer next time and they would like more time to shop so it would be best to arrive a bit earlier for our next event. We are working on the SPICES slowly but wanted to focus first on Plan-Do-Review. We are incorporating the SPICES more now than at the start.
The response from parents and youth so far has been super positive; this is just the direction and renewal we've been waiting for! We are extremely grateful for this opportunity. Thank you so very much."Crystal, Mentor in Fraser Valley
"Our Beaver Section jumped right into the works, had a "Beaver planning meeting". They use about five colour pictures to represent themes and the Beavers made their choice. I had my doubts, but the Beaver Scouters said it worked right away! Gave them three great meetings right away and the kids want more!
The Troop picked up on the Youth-led and installed a Troop Leader and started to rework their Court of Honour to more seriously reflect the input of the youth. Youth then asked if a whitewater rafting trip was possible and then started to plan it. (They decided they couldn't afford it this year, but will wait until next year—but it was their decision!)
The Troop also did a Review of the year's program to date. Called the "two cents’ worth", each Scout was given two poker chips, one green and one red. Green equals a good thing and red, a negative thing. They would "ante up" one coin for one topic/event they liked or didn't like. I was surprised as most of the youth used up all their green coins before anyone said anything negative. It started when one Scout asked if he was allowed to really say what he felt?!? When assured that what was expected, there was an outpouring. They got very real and honest with what they had done and what they would like to see happen.
I love where this can lead us!"Mark, Mentor in Shining Waters
"Before the meeting, Beaver Scouters work together to come up with five adventures (themes). The idea is that the Scouters are prepared to run any of the five adventures (and by prepared I mean have some ideas for). This allows the Scouters that are reluctant to give up control of the program to still maintain some control (a good first step). For our last meeting, we chose "Wild West", "Beavers (the animal)", "Pirates", "Knights & Dragons" and "Around the World".
Once you have your five adventures, make one set of adventure cards for each Lodge. These can be super simple! All we did was put a picture on the front of the card to represent the adventure, and on the back we wrote some examples of activities we could do on our adventure.
At the meeting, briefly explain what you are going to do and that Scouting was started by YOUTH and is a YOUTH-LED program. "Tonight you are in charge, and you get to choose our next big adventure!" Next, break into Lodges with one Scouter in each Lodge. The Scouter introduces each adventure, one at a time. With each adventure, ask "What kind of activities could we do on this adventure?" and let the Beavers continue to come up with ideas until they run out. Refer to the back of the card (for examples) and add any that the youth missed. The idea is to make each adventure seem awesome and exciting to the kids so that, if their individual choice is not chosen, they will still be excited about the Colony choice.
After each adventure is explored, lay the five cards on the ground in front of the youth and have them place an object (we used wood chips, but anything will do) on the adventure they want most. Have a Beaver Scout count the chips/objects and tell you which adventure won. In the event of a tie, remove all but the adventures that tied and re-vote. If there is still a tie, that's okay. Have a volunteer bring up the winning adventure(s) as the Lodge rejoins the Colony in a sharing circle (dam formation). Just a note, at our first planning meeting we had one Beaver Scout who just couldn't decide. This will happen, and that's okay; don't make a big deal out of it!
Once all the lodges are finished, call up lodges one at a time to present their adventure and ask them what kind of ideas they came up with. It is possible that all your lodges will have picked the same adventure, and if this happens HOORAY, you're all done! It is more likely however that the lodges will come up with at least two different ideas. Once all the lodges have presented, place all the unique adventure cards on the ground in the circle (by unique I mean if two lodges pick pirates, you would only lay down one card). Call the youth up one at a time by name to drop their chip. At the end, have a volunteer come up to count the chips on each adventure.
If you have a tie-in the end that you cannot resolve, relax! It just means you have picked your next TWO adventures in one night (this happened to us last time, "pirates" and "wild west" tied).
This is a good time to ask the Beavers if they can think of a game involving their new adventure to burn off some energy. Last spring, when our Colony chose the "Ninja School" adventure, the Beavers decided they wanted to play "Ninja Tag", which they decided was like freeze-tag except that you had to freeze in a "ninja pose".
At the end of the night, spend five minutes brainstorming ideas for the adventure. Make sure every single Beaver Scout has a chance to give an idea, and MAKE SURE a Scouter is writing them down. The kids are literally planning the program for you, so take good notes.
Next step is have a Scouter planning meeting to decide how to implement the Beaver Scouts' plan. You will likely find that you can use almost all of their ideas! The length of an adventure depends entirely on the ideas you get from the youth (plus the ideas you come up with as Scouters). Our "Survival" adventure lasted four meetings, our Ninja School lasted three, our "Wild West" was four meetings, and our "Pirate" adventure is planned to last six. We could have done a LOT more with our Survival adventure, but it was our first attempt and so a bit rusty. Not every week will be on theme necessarily. For example, during our pirate adventure we take a break one week for Beaver Buggies. During Wild West, we had Halloween, Remembrance Day and Christmas. So given all the "extras", you likely have time for 4-5 adventures per program year.
We have had two fully youth-led planning meetings so far, so for our next meeting (our third) we are going to have our White Tails choose the adventures. We're planning to keep the White Tails 10 minutes later on a meeting night to brainstorm adventures. After the meeting, the Scouters will narrow down to five. This will be a great introduction to the concept of a Sixers' Council as they head into Cub Scouts."Jason, Mentor in Newfoundland
"So their idea was to make it simple for the youth, pictures for Beavers was the easiest way. Each youth was asked what did they want to do in Beavers this year. So each youth drew a picture and explained to the Scouters what they meant. Now that they had an idea, they met and came up with a plan as to how to incorporate those ideas that they could this year and plan. So, the first planning session, they had some of the Beavers there, those whose parents are Scouters. The Scouters also spoke with the White Tails and included them also in the planning for a winter sleepover. They will be putting up tents, setting an indoor campfire and planned the meals. After the event, which takes place at the end of March, they will do a review with the Scouters and also the youth."Brenda, Mentor in Shining Waters
"One of the examples from my Troop is my final year Scouts leading a food bank project. They would first prepare a presentation to the entire Troop about running a food drive (they will usually go into the purpose, then what kind of food the food bank accepts, and finally where will the food go). Once the food drive is done, they will move on to the "Do" phase by bringing the food to the food bank. The food bank staff would then let them help sort the food they just donated (into different bins and then help pack them for actual use). Afterward, the food bank staff would show them around the food bank (including behind-the-scenes operations) and also share their insights in many topics (food bank users, poverty, food wastage, etc.). After the food bank service, my youth will move on to the "Review" phase at the next meeting; it's not really formal, but my Scouts will usually reflect on their new view of poverty, not wasting food, and insights from the food bank staff.
Some interesting observations I made:
- My youth took great ownership of this project. It was very interesting to see that without being asked, my final year Scouts will come up with various incentive measures to encourage more food donation for the food drive (prize for top-3 Scouts, prizes for top Patrol, etc.). As well, my youth will also send emails to other youth (and sometimes to their parents too) reminding them about the ongoing food drive. All these without being told.
- The only direct involvement from Scouters were to contact the food bank for arranging the donation (since they require an adult) and the occasional "challenge questions". (My youth share their ideas/specifics with my Scouters and their peers and the audience will ask them a lot of "What if" challenge questions).
- For the Review phase, it was somewhat difficult for youth to go beyond the superficial layer at the beginning (e.g. - without being coached by Scouters, they tend to get stuck at questions like "do I like this event", etc.). But they're getting better at this after a few projects.
- Even though it's youth-led, it was definitely more "work" for my Scouters (coaching a youth to lead a project is a lot harder than leading a project), but in the end it's definitely worthwhile.
In all, I am personally extremely confident that the Canadian Path will work well. I applied some of the ideas from the Canadian Path to my Troop (through informal piloting and testing of ideas - but mostly with Youth-led and Plan-Do-Review Elements), and I already see my Troop growing to 52 youth members, 18 of whom are brand new Scouts new to my Group. More importantly, those 18 new Scouts are mostly referred by an existing youth in my Troop (not by a parent through scouts.ca or by parents of existing youth). Also, my Troop as a whole is now better engaged and the retention will probably improve to 85% this year. I have to say I'm happy when youth tell me they will leave a hockey or soccer practice early (or just skip it) just so that they can join a Troop camp (that they put a lot of effort into planning) instead of the other way around."Kit, Ambassador Support in Shining Waters
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"They got very real and honest with what they had done and what they would like to see happen. I love where this can lead us."Mark, Mentor in Shining Waters