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Thread: Explorer ground rules & expectations

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    Explorer ground rules & expectations

    Hello
    i’m having a bit of a new Exploring experience, i’ve recently taken on a Unit after the retirement of the former ESL, whilst we look for a long term ESL. I’ve run a couple of weeks now and am a bit shocked at the general behaviour of the Explorers. The biggest eye opener, if you can turn a blind eye to no sign of any uniform or official start to the meetings, is that the Explorers just announce they are going home when they’ve had enough, often taking their mates with them in their cars.
    i’ve explained that from a safety point of view this can’t happen & started doing a sort of flag break to mark the start & finish. Has anyone else come across this, how did they deal with it?

    Program wise I inherited a list of activities, mini-golf, archery, aqua park, international night, wide games and cooking and was told this was the agreed program for the term. Not wanting to rock the boat too much i’ve mostly gone along with it. I took international & cooking and found a fairtrade activity which then linked into a cooking comp a few weeks later. Not the most exciting but it’s the start of counting towards the International bit of the Platinum CSA. We got through week one & then strangely week two they are all busy, that’s this week coming, i’ve cancelled the meetings & since the archery for the following week hadn’t been booked by the AESL, I bumped the cooking into that week. I’m now getting back chat on a group WhatsApp about running a military organisation & not providing a youth led program. The arrogance of some of the comments is quite amazing.

    I’ve been running Explorer Units for about 10 years & have never come across such a behaviour, the expectation appears to be that they come up a list of fun activities & it’s my job to sort it for them, under the guise of Youth Led, they then decide what they turn up to. I’ve got some ideas, that will probably result in a lot leaving, but no new ESL should be asked to take on responsibility for kids that do what they like. Any suggestions greafully received.

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    I feel your pain and I guess finding the balance is like the holy grail.

    We find that explorers are largely totally incapable of running or organising their own programme, and some of them do have the attitude you describe and you probably do need to have words because the bad ones will lead on the others. It's worth it for the others though. At the end of the day unlike scouts (where we largely do not publish the programme) the fact is they're not going to turn up to things they don't want to do, therefore the only answer is to run things they do want to do even if, that is not the same things they said they wanted to do originally.

    Personally we've found no mileage whatsoever in trying to work towards badges in explorers. We just dont do it.

    To sum up I dont know the answer. In my limited experience the explorer units that have arguably the most success are those which basically run a scouts style programme. The disadvantage is that those units tend to lose their members at age 16ish and be full of young ones. I dont want to do that and I guess neither do you, so I guess you just have to do your best whether they like it or not and take the rough with the smooth. Good luck

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    Senior Member Shaun's Avatar
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    Could you try saying,
    I noticed you mentioned Youth Led, this is what that means to me... you come up with the ideas and plan the evenings, I help you with the difficult bits, what does it mean for you?
    Or you could cull the herd, for now, it is your Explorer Unit, run it how you expect it to be run.
    I think sometimes we forget Scouting should be fun for Leaders too, what you are describing doesnt sound like fun for you.


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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Hi, and welcome.

    You have been running Explorers for 10 years and you have not come across the "attitude" of this unit which you have taken over. You are lucky, my friend.

    Explorers, as you know, is supposed to be youth led. It is, in reality, not quite as clear as that suggests.

    In the past, I presume that you would have discussions, planning meetings with tour Explorers and base your programme on that meeting, built around the traditional framework of Flagbreak etc.. That is youth guided, not youth led. That model is led by the ESL, you. That is not an issue in itself, if you have been doing this from the outset with a group of teenager who have bought into that style of Unit.

    However, it seems that you may have inherrited a truly "youth led" unit, where the Leader was there to keep a lid on their antics and no more. Such units rarely function as they perhaps might do, and their operation ebbs and flows with the character of the Alpha characters. I've seen it, because I've been there, done that, got the tee shirt.

    I'm no longer in Scouts, I run an independent group of Navigators, when we set up Navs we found that we had to run one large Section, from age 10 to 18. Initially, I gave the older members 15 - 18, their head and let them "manage" their own programme, I did this despite my experiences of a "youth led" programme in Explorers ( which was very much a curate's egg). They became surly, lazy and did nothing much at all unless i really pushed them. They left en-masse, I heard through Instagram that they believed that their departure would see the Group close - and the loss of 8 in one go was a blow. However, numbers recovered quite quickly and now that I have a new set of +15 age, I am not making the mistake of allowing them to be "youth led" again.

    They are given some different programme, they get to be apart from the younger age range, but the programme is decided by discussion and imposed by the leadership team.

    In your situation, stick to your guns. You do flag break, they should be there for flag break. Start on the hour and five minutes after the hour, lock the doors. Expect them to follow the programme and expect them to stay for flag down. If they don't like it, remind them where the door is. If they walk, they walk. In due course you will replace these Explorers with new intake who will like your model of Unit.

    Just leaving and driving off with presumably older members is not on. You have a legal responsibility for ther safety. I'd be pulling on the jackboots and jumping all over those who were behaving so rudely - I think they would call it constructive dismissal in an employment scenario.

    You know all this after 10 years - Keep the kids safe, keep the leaders safe and you will succeed.
    Last edited by Bushfella; 01-07-2019 at 08:20 AM.
    Ewan Scott

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Welcome to escouts Buttercup. Some random Monday morning thoughts...

    Ahhh, the changing of the guard.

    What you've got there is a youth club. Now, I've been accused of running a youth club, but I don't think I've had anything on that scale.

    Now, obviously, respect is earned, not given. But you're the leader, so as the person in charge, the responsible adult, what you say is how it's got to be.

    What's happened is they were used to one way of explorers being, how the old leader ran it, and now you turn up and you're talking about badges and platinum awards and cooking competitions and all this rather alien "scout" stuff. It's a shock to the system, and actually if you treat it like the 6 stages of grief, shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, you'll have some understanding of what they're going through. Kind of. They had a place they could call "theirs", and you've taken it away.

    When things have gone bad for me, or the characters have been a bit too much, I've sat down with them all and said "look, I need to enjoy this too, and I'm not" and we've talked about why not, and what they feel, a heart to heart if you like. And what we can do, and how we should be, to make it better.

    It's a tricky business, as some of them are drivers, they're seeing themselves as grown up and responsible for themselves, so they don't see that you're still responsible for them all for the meeting, even though they've gone off, they see that as "we've gone off, it's on me now". Or they've just started doing this with the changing of the guard because they don't enjoy the meeting, that's them done.

    Sounds like you have some alpha characters, and either you've got to bring them round, or be the alpha character yourself.

    I'd be entirely not surprised if you lost most of your older ones. That's okay. They don't need you and how you want to run the unit.

    You'll get there. Tough times ahead though. Good luck.

    Ian
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
    All sections, all countries, runs December 2018 - May 2019
    http://www.jambowlree.org

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    I'm going to add this. TSA trot out examples of ideal Explorers that are youth led. Most Leaders just smile and think of the famous 1st Anytown that always ran perfectly or ended up with a perfect solution. Life ain't like that.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





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    Sounds more like old Venture Scouts than Explorers...

    This is tricky. Can't disagree with most of what has already been said. I don't think there is any right answer to this.

    Often with older sections, leaders end up in a position of oblique control and direct responsibility (robbed from a Dilbert cartoon...) I was never averse to Explorers doing their own thing, I thought of it as being the point, I also never saw the point in pushing the Explorer program because a) our Explorers came through a Scout troop that wasn't too concerned with badges, and b) they really weren't interested anyway. We did enough scouty stuff anyway, we just didn't bother ticking the boxes.

    That's a choice that needs to be made, and you'll lose some and gain others.

    As an ESL, I always saw my place as being that of a facilitator, but it's a balance between being that and basically being The Person Who Will Get The Blame when it all goes wrong.

    I'd be aiming for somewhere between what you want and what they want, and communicating that as much as you can. I'd also tone down the uniform/scouty stuff in the first instance as a show of goodwill. At the end of the day, if you don't have any Explorers, you won't have an ESU to run at all.

    Driving is a gnarly one, fortunately, while my lot laterally did have driving licences, none of them drove. If we were on any sort of Explorer trip, we used leader vehicles and/or minibuses. I don't think you can dictate how they get to and from meetings, but the activities you do, I think it's fair to say - you can. I never wanted Explorers driving with other Explorers in their cars. That was a big no-no for me.

    I think you need to put an hour aside and sit down with them and talk. When you do that, wear casual clothes - don't wear your uniform, and I'd park any chat about badge work for the time being. You can be doing that stuff (and they'll enjoy it), but as soon as you start in with the box ticking (given they don't wear uniforms - and my lot never did either), that's going to probably put them off.

    (Which contrary to some opinion - does not make Explorers a youth club...)

    Good luck, and remember, usual caveats aside, you'll get young folk either way, they'll just be different young folk. Look at the Scout troops who are feeding the unit, that's your benchmark - same as it was for us.

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    I think I wouldn't be scared of reading the riot act, you have a programme which apparently was agreed with them. If they leave half way through the evening ask them not to return. If they don't turn up then ask them not to return... If you end up with 4 or 5 who turn up, who can help form a programme which (whether you run it or them), they attend then you have something to build upon.

    In Venture days I had a unit with a committee which worked for about 18 months, it was brilliant, it did everything TSA would want from Youth Led. Then they left to go to university and it all fell over, the unit never had an effective committee again and returned to leader led, 20 years later I've never seen a unit work like it again and as Ewan pointed out the number of real Youth Led units around is negligible...

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    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    POR:
    The delivery of the Unit programme is the responsibility of the Section Leadership team, led by
    the Section Leader.


    The Explorer Scout Unit should have opportunities for the members to take part in the decision
    making process.


    "An Introduction to the Explorer Scout Section" from the scout website:
    Explorer Scout Units are primarily Leader led, with as much participation in decision making by
    young people as possible.

    The intention has always been that unlike ventures, explorer units are driven by the leaders with input from the explorers... Ventures were driven (in theory) by their exec

    let's not beat ourselves up when a unit is run by adults.

    also, in this case... you're gonna need to lose the older ones and rebuild in your own image with the younger ones. don't sling em out but make it clear it's your way or the door and they can choose the door.

    If you have the energy, see if they would be better suited as YLs in their old groups but don't kill yourself doing that

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    Quote Originally Posted by big chris View Post
    If you have the energy, see if they would be better suited as YLs in their old groups but don't kill yourself doing that
    Or point them at the local Network for when they're 18. Though you'll likely be wasting your breath.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
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    Wow, thank you all for some constructive discussion, it’s good to know i’m not on my own.
    obviously i’ve come across a fair bit of attitude before, but it was the exception within a Unit not the norm, those with it either fell in with the rest or left, most stayed. From what I can make out the previous way of doing things was the Explorers came up with a list of activities for the term & the ESL made them happen. More Youth dictated than led, the ‘programs’ where just paid for activities, Lasar tag, mini golf swimming etc with what were referred to as wide games, but from what i’ve seen that means frisbee & not hugely inclusive. It seems like there have never been any boundaries set or comprehension that Scouts is about youth development or that’s something they need to do, this is a copy paste from an Explorer ‘Development of what? Physical skills like walking? Or cognitive ability like problem solving? We learn most of those when we are younger, now we need to choose activities that we want to do as that better aids our development as we will be enjoy it more which is the best thing to aid someone’s development. This is because we will be fully engaged in the activity.’


    Like many of you i’m not that fussed about absolute badge work, but working as a team to achieve an objective & the life skills required to make that happen is why I volunteer. In one of my other Units (I’m actually DESC hence the babysitting until I find an ESL) they’ve been doing a variety of things, so that they can successfully build a raft next week, this lot would just want to mess about in the water.


    With only a few weeks of term left, I either ride the wave & hope the older ones leave, pray I find a experienced leader willing to take them on, I’ve already recruited 7 new leaders this year I’m running out of places to look. It would become their Unit with their rules, although I’d like continuity across the District on some things & obviously for them to be safe, so the going home rule stays regardless.
    The other option since they know how to lead & all that stuff is to bin the cooking, it was only a filler & get them to submit a properly planned evening a week in advance, if it’s properly done & safe etc happy days if not then they do cooking. I just need to come up with some sensible constraints.

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Do they want to do cooking? Then let them do cooking but make it a challenge for them.

    Give them targets, a menu to cook to, a style of food they perhaps have never tried. Cooking itself is never an issue, it is what they cook that makes it worthwhile, or not.

    You have the experience, you need to help out the prospective replacement leader by setting the expectations. This is how we will run things, and there is the door. From the behaviour that you describe, I would not thank you for sending some of them to my Group as YLs...

    Group behaviour is like a barrel of apples, it only takes one bad one...
    Ewan Scott

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Our Explorer usually love cooking, we have a few different formats we run:
    5 challenge, buy all the major ingeridients for a meal for their team plus a Leader for 5, cook it and serve it (I view this partly as prep for cooking on a budget at Uni)
    Cooking on expedition stoves, part of expedition training we use different stoves (primus, meths tranjia, mini gas stove) with different levels of food suitable to cook on each (e.g. lighterweight, quicker to cook foods on the tranjia)
    International cooking, we bring down some recipe books they choose a recipe they want to try in their team and then they try and cook it in the kitchen (i.e. not on stoves).

    we have also done a cake baking and decorating evening when bake off has been on the TV, lets just say most were not exactly up to the standard of those on TV

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    I will add to that. Cooking a meal from the various left over tins and other long life bits in long term food crate. I may bulk it out with an extra tin of potatoes or tin of spam. It is a good skill to get creative with the ingredients in your kitchen when it has been a week since the last shop.

    Dutch oven/mud oven cooking. Backwoods cooking. Good fun. Plus the skills of maintaining a cooking fire.

    One of favourite ones was the year that one patrol chose to cook tomato soup, another baked beans and a third burgers. So I located recipes and ingredients and got them cooking from scratch. The beans looked good, the soup did not.


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    The fact that its cooking has got little to do with it, out of interest its a challenge based around international fairtrade (or not), different teams have different countries & different amounts of money depending on the wealth of individuals in that country, USA get 6 for 2 courses, Mexico 2 etc.
    I believe this is a power struggle from the few that think that they are in control, theyve been pretty clear theyve decided they want to do archery now & refuse to do anything different, on principle!!!

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