In 2009 and 2010, Scouts Canada’s National Youth Network introduced the most recent versions of three age-appropriate Youth Leadership Training courses: FLEX, FAST and FOCUS. Since that time, many Cubs, Scouts, Venturers and Rovers have benefited from what the courses have to offer. They’ve become better, more confident leaders, both in Scouting and in their day-to-day lives.
As more and more Sections get on The Canadian Path, the timing seemed right for the National Youth Network to take a look at FLEX, FAST and FOCUS and make some changes. Plan, Do, Review—right? We wanted to make sure our Youth Leadership Training was in step with the changes we’ve made in other parts of our Scouting program. There’s a lot to be excited about in Scouting these days!
For starters, we wanted a more consistent approach to Youth Leadership Training, with five focus areas for each Section to enjoy and learn from. Participants decide on what exciting, age-appropriate adventures they’d like to share to explore the distinct knowledge areas: Becoming a Leader, Communication, Plan-Do-Review (Project Management), Problem Solving (Conflict Resolution) and Teamwork.
We also want people outside of Scouting to know about the fantastic young leaders we have. By transitioning to ‘Scouts Canada Youth Leadership Training’, these courses will have name recognition outside of Scouting and can be included on resumes or job applications.
Youth-led is one of the Four Elements of The Canadian Path. The new Youth Leadership Training courses just had to make this a part of any changes, and we’ve done just that. While FLEX, FAST and FOCUS did a good job of having senior youth lead members from younger Sections, we thought it would be better if we found ways that the participants take turns leading each other as part of the course. What better way to learn about leadership than by actually leading? The new Section-specific Youth Leadership Training courses use Trail Cards as a resource that lets facilitators turn the adventure over to the participants themselves. In addition to these new opportunities for leadership-based learning, this approach will also make Youth Leadership Training more accessible to youth across the country.
Personal progression is a key part of The Canadian Path. We wanted to make sure that all youth can develop their leadership skills in a meaningful way. Trail Cards are part of that bigger picture. Overall, we wanted an adaptable format that allows for personal progression. There isn’t really such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to something like leadership. Youth have a variety of leadership styles, and individual strengths. We want to play to those strengths, and we want to develop the flexibility to take different approaches in different situations.
Course pilots were held this past spring, and we received some encouraging feedback from the Scouters observing the workshops. One noted, “The facilitators [had to] resist the temptation to become participants—it all seems like so much fun!” Since the pilots, we have updated the course material and added even more fun Trail Cards. We’re ready to share the resources with Scouts across the country as a soft launch online. Final versions of the resources will be posted later this winter, and Youth Leadership Training kits will be available for order from the Scout Shop—stay tuned!
Through the involvement of many stakeholders—including youth, Scouters, educators and parents—we believe that this is the most youth-led form of training possible. In the realization of training that is truly personal and focused on a youth’s development, we had to consider the diverse abilities and background of our organization’s membership and design a course that is challenging, but also focused on personal progression and developing situation-specific skills.
As The Canadian Path becomes further integrated into the Scouting habits of Volunteers and youth across the country, we see these five new Scouts Canada Youth Leadership Training courses as opportunities to support skill-building for our youth, and allow all members to understand that personal progression is at the core of our mission to develop well-rounded youth, better prepared for success in the world.