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Thread: Review of Scouts and Explorers age ranges

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    Mmm what a well roasted old chestnut!

    We found as a group we were getting more 14 year olds wanting to stay with the group as YLs than we had space for... we even ended up with a rolling programme where they started at Beavers or Cubs for the first few years as a YL and those who we thought would be capable of handling the older age group were invited, at about 16 or 17, to help at Scouts. (That's not to say helping at Scouts is any more important or a senior role... just that it's important to maintain an age gap between the section and it's YLs.

    We had very few go to Explorers... it met in a different part of the district for a start, and didn't run any camps.

    The YLs in the group asked if we could have an explorer unit at the group. We approached district... myself and the ASL offered to take on the extra leadership roles to run it for a year initially. District said No because the existing unit wasn't full. So districts view was that it was better to have one failing unit and lose these kids, than to let us open a second unit with an eager group of kids, and do regular joint activities.

    In the end districts nose was put even more out of joint when we invited all the groups YLs to scout summer camp, letting them camp separately as a patrol with a Rota to volunteer as YLs. We were told not to do it again... So the young people miss out to keep district feeling self satisfied.

    Age ranges? It took a long time to settle after the last change but has finally just about settled down. Let's not mess it up again.
    This is pretty much what happens with our partnered scout group except we were fortunate in our district is completely happy with setting up units as needed. All units are “badged (neckered ��) as a district unit but run as individual sub-units which can get together to also do things as a single unit.

    We also start the YLs with the younger sections - beavers and in our case squirrels, as they gain experience and confidence they move up the sections. We’ve found this works well in terms terms of DofE/CSA as at each level they are taking on more challenging YL roles.

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    GSL & ESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    As someone who experienced Scouting under the old age range and has seen first hand the difference that Explorers and the new age range has made then I would not make much change (I would restore the 18 months of flexibility of moving up from 13.5 to 15 but I can understand why it was reduced as people were abusing it to retain Scouts and they were leaving before moving to Explorers. Whereas we used it to ensure we could always offer Scouts the choice of staying in Scouts for one last Summer Camp as a PL or moving up to Explorers before Summer Camp, and it was always their choice. As it stands some of our PLs never get to be PL on a summer camp which is a shame).

    When the old age ranges with Ventures was in place we lost scores of kids in our Group at the 13 to 14 age range before they were old enough to move up to Ventures and then some more who simply dropped out rather than move up to Ventures.

    With the current age ranges we still see a some Scouts drop out before they reach Explorer age but that is much reduced and just about every single one of our Scouts that stays in until they are 14 moves up to Explorers (they don't all stay in Explorers but most do and at least they tried it).

    I realise its frustrating to have less useful PLs but IMHO far better to have less useful PLs and actually have more kids stay in Scouting than lose them in the numbers we were doing towards the top end of the previous Scout age range.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 08-05-2020 at 09:48 AM.

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  3. #18
    GSL & ESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    Mmm what a well roasted old chestnut!

    We found as a group we were getting more 14 year olds wanting to stay with the group as YLs than we had space for... we even ended up with a rolling programme where they started at Beavers or Cubs for the first few years as a YL and those who we thought would be capable of handling the older age group were invited, at about 16 or 17, to help at Scouts. (That's not to say helping at Scouts is any more important or a senior role... just that it's important to maintain an age gap between the section and it's YLs.

    We had very few go to Explorers... it met in a different part of the district for a start, and didn't run any camps.

    The YLs in the group asked if we could have an explorer unit at the group. We approached district... myself and the ASL offered to take on the extra leadership roles to run it for a year initially. District said No because the existing unit wasn't full. So districts view was that it was better to have one failing unit and lose these kids, than to let us open a second unit with an eager group of kids, and do regular joint activities.

    In the end districts nose was put even more out of joint when we invited all the groups YLs to scout summer camp, letting them camp separately as a patrol with a Rota to volunteer as YLs. We were told not to do it again... So the young people miss out to keep district feeling self satisfied.

    Age ranges? It took a long time to settle after the last change but has finally just about settled down. Let's not mess it up again.
    That is so frustrating and really makes my blood boil when Districts fail to use the flexibility built in to Explorers to retain as many kids in Scouting as possible. If that means opening extra Units thn just flipping well do it, turning down a new Unit where there was clear demand, a meeting place and Leaders willing to take it on is just madness.

    In our District we have at least 7 ESUs all of which are partnered with one or more Scout Groups. To be honest this still is less than I would hope for given we have 17 to 20 Scout Groups (3 are very new) but our District still has the most Explorers of any District in our County by a fair distance. All that is needed for a new Unit to be opened in our District is to prove to the DESC that there is the demand, meeting palce and Leaders to make it work and he will work hard with Groups to help make sure the latter two are put in place if there is the demand there.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

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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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    Quote Originally Posted by Big George View Post
    That would have them joining explorers as they start into the run up to GCSEs. I think we’d loose a significant number of that was the change over age.

    That said I don’t think there will ever be a “right” age to change from scouts to explorers. Any age point will have it’s advantages and disadvantages. My experience as an explorers leader is that it takes them time to settle in. We run both DofE and Platinum/Diamond awards. The first year gives us time to get to know them before they start on the more challenging awards.

    Another thing missed by many in this debate is that for half of their time in explorers they are involved in exams that will impact their future. If we can’t “hook” them early (young) the temptation to drop scouts could be high.
    Agreed.

    Exam times are different in Scotland, it's always been an issue for us what ever we did. Pretty much 25 or 30% of the total time they're in Explorers was taken up with revision. That said, it was just another outside (of Scouts) activity we deal with.

    As you say, there are compromises in all directions, and for all sections. I know that it takes a while for new Scouts to settle in, and it's a time of maximum risk in terms of young folk leaving. (Although I think that can be mostly ameliorated by making sure sections are aligned in key areas - although I appreciate that might be more difficult between Scouts and Explorers being as they are (often) not in the same group.)

    *Edit* Thinking about this, and not necessarily on topic. I wonder if the success of Explorers is more down to it being a more attractive proposition for leaders? I was a VSL for a long time and felt (often) that I was just along for the ride, or drive the minibus or as a portable credit card for bookings. Where-as for Explorers, I got to actually organise and plan stuff again.

    I don't think anyone ever managed to understand why scouts were leaving when they were. They just made assumptions about the age ranges. Or maybe they did... In any case, our retention through to Explorers-age is almost 100%. It's not an issue we have just now. Historically (sort of), when our district was going down the district explorer unit-only route - 100% left at 14. (They tried the district unit, but didn't like it).

    I don't think the reasons for the age change was as clear cut. (Except for VS's spanning age 18, which was always a bit of an issue.) /edit*
    Last edited by pa_broon74; 08-05-2020 at 09:47 AM.

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    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Pretty much 25 or 30% of the total time they're in Explorers was taken up with revision. .
    except, we all know it isn't. they are on their phones in their room. 2 hours a week on explorers is only ever going to be beneficial but it's so normal for parents to say... right... no explorers, you have exams this term/ year. With only the tiniest bit of time management they could attend most meetings. WIth good time management, they can attend all of them.


    One of our superstars (A*s all the way) was poking the fire one night at explorers... i asked when her next exam was. she said 'tmrw, further maths (or something equally complex). when i asked why she wasn't home revising, she looked at me as if i was daft. "i've revised, i'd only be at home wtaching TV." That is an extreme but for most kids, they can attend most of explorers just fine but often don't.

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  7. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by big chris View Post
    except, we all know it isn't. they are on their phones in their room. 2 hours a week on explorers is only ever going to be beneficial but it's so normal for parents to say... right... no explorers, you have exams this term/ year. With only the tiniest bit of time management they could attend most meetings. WIth good time management, they can attend all of them.


    One of our superstars (A*s all the way) was poking the fire one night at explorers... i asked when her next exam was. she said 'tmrw, further maths (or something equally complex). when i asked why she wasn't home revising, she looked at me as if i was daft. "i've revised, i'd only be at home wtaching TV." That is an extreme but for most kids, they can attend most of explorers just fine but often don't.
    I think that's probably all moot. It's not up to young people. If their parents expect them to be in their rooms 'revising', then that's what they'll be doing. As you say, it won't matter what they're actually doing. (Heck, I know we have some who choose to stay in their room glued to a phone/console outside of the exam period. They do it when they're actually at Scouts too...)

    I think as well as that, there's the usual keeping up appearances. Parents who let there sprogs go to Explorers (or what ever else) during peak exam times might be worried about being judged by other parents.

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    GSL & ESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    The whole revision thing has always annoyed me, until recently we have not really been affected as our Unit meet on Friday evenngs. However in the last couple of years we have had a couple of Explorers drop out for the Exam period which is IMHO just stupid as they really are not going to be doing any useful revision or other school work from 7pm to 9pm on a Friday evening and coming to Exlorers will take their mind off exam stress. They all returned after the exam period so it wasn't just an excuse to quit Explorers either.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I don't think the reasons for the age change was as clear cut. (Except for VS's spanning age 18, which was always a bit of an issue.) /edit*
    I do think it was clear cut. I know its only anecdotal but we had an active Troop and active VSU (Troop has always done plenty of camps and the VSU had regular expeditions etc and reasonable weekly programme) yet by my final year in Ventures there were only 4 of us in our Unit and no Scouts old enough to join when two of us left for Uni. There were two of us left in my school year at 18 and yet there were 15 of us that joined our Scout Troop (it was a bit of a bulge year for some reason). 2 out of 15 making it from 11 to 18 is a pretty appalling retention rate and to be honest we only had that because I was a Leaders kid so stuck it out and we both only really stuck it out in Ventures for the last year as we were working towards our QSA.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 08-05-2020 at 10:28 AM.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

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    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I think as well as that, there's the usual keeping up appearances. Parents who let there sprogs go to Explorers (or what ever else) during peak exam times might be worried about being judged by other parents.
    And there are parents like me who let both their sons continue thru Explorers realising that Exam results are not really that important in the end, both of them got indifferent A level grades, but got much out of their time with Scouts / Explorers / Network (most of their close friends now went thru Explorers with them, I lost count of the number of Queen Scouts amongst the group, thanks to the ESL team) - one is now a senior ICU nurse in a central London hospital treating many Covid 19 patients; the other got a First in Computer Science, and after time in Australia, is in now Seattle having got his Green card just before Covid 19 stopped the processing of Green Card applications. I judge some of the sheep like parents who helicopter over their children and think they are crazy, they should be encouraging them go to Explorers!
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

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    In some respects it’s the parents that are telling them they have to revise (whatever that means in their household) and miss the meetings. Doesn’t really matter who decides it as they still miss it. We tell them if the need to take a break and relax a bit then come along, if they need to work or have an exam next day then don’t. We make the meetings more relaxed during exam time and don’t expect the normal numbers. We also use this time to invite along those that will be moving up next year so we get to see them in less crowded meetings.

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    I don't think you can look at section boundary alone - you have to consider the flow through the group and on to Explorers.

    Beavers are nominally 6-8 - 2 years - and generally they seem to be ready to move on at the end of that time.
    Cubs are nominally 8-10.5 - 2.5 years - that means that either the Pack has to be larger than the colony or you need to have dropouts at 8 and it is a challenge to offer places at Cub age.
    Scouts are nominally 10.5-14 - 3.5 years - since we do not see a lot of Cubs not moving to Scouts - a few don't because of sports - it means that we are quite grateful that when they get to 14 they are beginning to want to move on and get away from the "babies".
    Explorers are 14-18 - 4 years - but as others have said a lot of them have exams and other commitments so probably your %age attendance is lower.

    If you moved the Scout top age to 15 then they would spend too long in Scouts, moving the Cub top age means that you have more of a clash with the change to senior school (which can the reason we lose a few younger Scouts already) and that means you have to raise the Beaver top age a bit. And then you have the numbers game and different sections wanting to limit at different sizes, aaargh!

    Personally quite happy with the age ranges as they are, they sort of work and we are seeing good retention. From what I see of teenagers (through Young Leaders and work placements) I am not so sure they are as "mature" in life skills, leadership, etc. as they were 10-20 years ago, so having some 15 year olds in Scouts would not really provide much "peer leadership" in my opinion.
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  14. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I do think it was clear cut. I know its only anecdotal but we had an active Troop and active VSU (Troop has always done plenty of camps and the VSU had regular expeditions etc and reasonable weekly programme) yet by my final year in Ventures there were only 4 of us in our Unit and no Scouts old enough to join when two of us left for Uni. There were two of us left in my school year at 18 and yet there were 15 of us that joined our Scout Troop (it was a bit of a bulge year for some reason). 2 out of 15 making it from 11 to 18 is a pretty appalling retention rate and to be honest we only had that because I was a Leaders kid so stuck it out and we both only really stuck it out in Ventures for the last year as we were working towards our QSA.
    Indeed it is anecdotal.

    Scouting over the age of fourteen in our district stopped completely about two years after Explorers/Network began. It only restarted when groups started to run their own ESU's under the counter, so to speak.

    Where as, before that, we had two very active VSU's which took members from groups around the district. Ours was well attended up until everything changed. We've already talked about how things transpired in Scotland and the complete disregard there was was VSL's and members.

    But that's in the past now. We are where we are.

    This is why I suggested that maybe one of the reason there are more Explorers than there were Ventures, is that it's a more attractive proposition for adults who want to lead. So more spaces are available for Scouts who want to stay on. What I mean is, it may not only be to do with Explorers, in and of itself. If you see what I mean.

    Being an ESL was a lot more fun and rewarding than being a VSL.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by johnL View Post
    And there are parents like me who let both their sons continue thru Explorers realising that Exam results are not really that important in the end, both of them got indifferent A level grades, but got much out of their time with Scouts / Explorers / Network (most of their close friends now went thru Explorers with them, I lost count of the number of Queen Scouts amongst the group, thanks to the ESL team) - one is now a senior ICU nurse in a central London hospital treating many Covid 19 patients; the other got a First in Computer Science, and after time in Australia, is in now Seattle having got his Green card just before Covid 19 stopped the processing of Green Card applications. I judge some of the sheep like parents who helicopter over their children and think they are crazy, they should be encouraging them go to Explorers!
    Yup.

    To be fair though, you're already sold on Scouting.

    Anecdotally, during this lock down, we're about 50/50 in terms of who's still doing school work. I reckon half of ours would themselves decide not to come to Scouts or Explorers and instead stay home to look at their pho- eh, I mean revise for exams... The other half would definitely continue to come down. However, it's not up to them. It's up to parents. We've sort-of mentioned that maybe, if their sprogs needed a break from revision, then Scouts/Explorers might be the place to do it. Again, some of the young folk do, but then, others prefer to veg out in front of their phone - which is fair enough, it is their downtime after all.

    (We're not a Scouty scout troop. We do scouty stuff, but we don't have any targets or if I'm being honest - particularly high standards they need to meet.)


  15. #27
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyke53 View Post
    Is now the time to review the age ranges of the Scout and Explorer sections?
    No. Well, maybe you could, but the answer is no change. In my opinion. Got way more to say, but not now, sun's out and it's lunchtime.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    According to a quick Google, there is over 113,000 scouts and 31,000 Explorers
    Your Google-foo has deserted you young padawan. I've got numbers, I've got them in a spreadsheet:

    2019 census membership numbers:
    Scouts: 130,479
    Explorers: 44,032
    Total: 174,511

    1997 census membership numbers (earliest date I have numbers for):
    Scouts: 132,326
    Ventures: 26,537
    Total: 158,863
    Ian Wilkins
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    Your Google-foo has deserted you young padawan. I've got numbers, I've got them in a spreadsheet:

    2019 census membership numbers:
    Scouts: 130,479
    Explorers: 44,032
    Total: 174,511

    1997 census membership numbers (earliest date I have numbers for):
    Scouts: 132,326
    Ventures: 26,537
    Total: 158,863
    Those numbers were from the Scout's website. I quoted them as a snapshot of numbers as they are now not as comparison to what they were. (They're actually from a factsheet from 2010, which is the first thing Google throws up - so a wee bit out of date.)

    There are more scouts, than there are explorers. That was my point. (Although RS was (I think) referring to the statistic you've given.)

    That's kind of why I mentioned the notion that the greater numbers might not be because of what we're assuming.

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  19. #29
    Map Geek marcush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Those numbers were from the Scout's website. I quoted them as a snapshot of numbers as they are now not as comparison to what they were. (They're actually from a factsheet from 2010, which is the first thing Google throws up - so a wee bit out of date.)

    There are more scouts, than there are explorers. That was my point. (Although RS was (I think) referring to the statistic you've given.)

    That's kind of why I mentioned the notion that the greater numbers might not be because of what we're assuming.
    I'm pretty sure I remember this rightly, but there has always been drop of at about 14 y/o even in the days when scouts were older and 14 was seen as the nice split age for the section, and actually I think 14 works as it allows a troop to have the oldest as PL/SPL who are the useful ones, who can train up the PL/APL to be the next useful ones and so on, and you then encourage them to be YLs to be useful leaders.

    I don't think the scout/explorer crossover age is a massive issue and it is more a natural age split, compared to the younger sections, which could do with some tweaking. You could of easily just lowered Beavers by a year and not have early years pilot for example.

    Rule 66. A map and compass offers no protection against getting horribly lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcush View Post
    You could of easily just lowered Beavers by a year and not have early years pilot for example.
    But isn't the idea of the early years Section to recruit the parents in by making them accompany their kids?
    To get more kids we need more adults - are we getting the message yet?

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