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Thread: Age Ranges and the challenges they pose

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    Account Closed Raksha's Avatar
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    Age Ranges and the challenges they pose

    Hi
    I am a Sea Scout Leader. While I am working with the current age ranges I have to let you know that they do cause particular problems for Sea Scouts. Under the old ages our older Scouts were able to hold Water authorities, they helped to pass their skills on during a Troop night. We run several different courses including RYA (adult curriculum not juniors) and also BCU, and by the time the Scouts are old enough to get qualified for a permit they are off to Explorers or leave the Group.
    I realise you can't change it back again easily, but could you think about it? Most of the changes seem to have been brought in to aid small groups, possibly inner city groups who are struggling. I have a Scout Troop of 65 who all meet on the same night, our Explorer Unit is now running at 24, our Cub Pack at 36 and our Beaver Colony at 24, all sections except Explorers have waiting lists. We need more Leaders and are working on that, but if we could have kept our Older Scouts, it would help so much more!What are your thoughts on this issue?

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    Ex GSL gdclark's Avatar
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    Funnily enough I have the opposite problem with ages.

    I have problems now moving my older cubs up to my scout group. I am restricted in size as to how many youngsters I may have in our building to being 24 Beavers, 24 Cubs and 20 Scouts (24 at a push if all of the activities are outdoors). I now have no room for my cubs to go into my troop and they are having to move on to other groups.

    I have a very young scout group - oldest 13 years and a very old cub pack youngest being nearly nine but most of them being 10.

    I also have 10 beavers wanting to join the cubs by Easter.

    My older scouts have come back to me as young leaders so I dont have the problem of the older scouts passing on their knowledge and helping the leaders. All our sections now have young leaders and, personally, I don't know what we could have done without them as adult help is few and far between around here!

    Last edited by gdclark; 23-09-2007 at 03:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninthskip View Post
    Hi
    I am a Sea Scout Leader. While I am working with the current age ranges I have to let you know that they do cause particular problems for Sea Scouts. Under the old ages our older Scouts were able to hold Water authorities, they helped to pass their skills on during a Troop night. We run several different courses including RYA (adult curriculum not juniors) and also BCU, and by the time the Scouts are old enough to get qualified for a permit they are off to Explorers or leave the Group.
    I realise you can't change it back again easily, but could you think about it? Most of the changes seem to have been brought in to aid small groups, possibly inner city groups who are struggling. I have a Scout Troop of 65 who all meet on the same night, our Explorer Unit is now running at 24, our Cub Pack at 36 and our Beaver Colony at 24, all sections except Explorers have waiting lists. We need more Leaders and are working on that, but if we could have kept our Older Scouts, it would help so much more!What are your thoughts on this issue?

    Hi Hilary,

    I'm an Explorer leader. Our Unit is strongly attached to our Group (as a continuation of the old Venture Unit). We are a large Group in a village. We have 2 Beaver Colonies - roughly 50 Beavers, 2 Cub Packs - about 60 Cubs, 2 Scout Troops - about 60 Scouts and our Explorer Unit - currently 38, just down from 46 as some have just reached 18 and have gone to uni.

    Clearly we are neither "small" or "inner city" but we have managed to make the new ages work very well.

    Firstly the retention of Scouts. The drop out at 14ish has decreased dramatically as they move on to Explorers just when they are starting to grow out of Scouts - four years in any section, Explorers included, is long enough. Your numbers are very high and you are obviously retaining your membership very well. Was this so successful under the old age range?

    Both of our Scout Troops found that the lack of experienced Patrol Leaders was a significant problem. We are currently trying an idea where we use Explorers who are 15-16 to act as team leaders to each patrol. This seems to work really well so far and behaviour and discipline are greatly improved. The Explorers undertake this role as Young Leaders which also overcomes the problem of trying to find older Explorers to assist the Scout Leaders (usually age 16+).

    We provide 25 Young leaders within the Group and almost all of the Explorers remain YL's voluntarily (ie far beyond what is required for their QSA's) until they reach 18.

    You mention that you have a good sized Explorer Unit and I think both sections would find great benefits from working closely together. To have YL's who could hold a permit and help you continually for up to 4 years would surely be an even greater benefit to you than the PL's that you have lost that could only do this for around a year before they left to Ventures?

    Finally, out of curiosity where do you meet where you can cram in 65 Scouts? It's an astounding number; you must be running a good programme

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    Account Closed Raksha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stRustington View Post
    Hi Hilary,

    I'm an Explorer leader. Our Unit is strongly attached to our Group (as a continuation of the old Venture Unit). We are a large Group in a village. We have 2 Beaver Colonies - roughly 50 Beavers, 2 Cub Packs - about 60 Cubs, 2 Scout Troops - about 60 Scouts and our Explorer Unit - currently 38, just down from 46 as some have just reached 18 and have gone to uni.

    Clearly we are neither "small" or "inner city" but we have managed to make the new ages work very well.

    Firstly the retention of Scouts. The drop out at 14ish has decreased dramatically as they move on to Explorers just when they are starting to grow out of Scouts - four years in any section, Explorers included, is long enough. Your numbers are very high and you are obviously retaining your membership very well. Was this so successful under the old age range?

    Both of our Scout Troops found that the lack of experienced Patrol Leaders was a significant problem. We are currently trying an idea where we use Explorers who are 15-16 to act as team leaders to each patrol. This seems to work really well so far and behaviour and discipline are greatly improved. The Explorers undertake this role as Young Leaders which also overcomes the problem of trying to find older Explorers to assist the Scout Leaders (usually age 16+).

    We provide 25 Young leaders within the Group and almost all of the Explorers remain YL's voluntarily (ie far beyond what is required for their QSA's) until they reach 18.

    You mention that you have a good sized Explorer Unit and I think both sections would find great benefits from working closely together. To have YL's who could hold a permit and help you continually for up to 4 years would surely be an even greater benefit to you than the PL's that you have lost that could only do this for around a year before they left to Ventures?

    Finally, out of curiosity where do you meet where you can cram in 65 Scouts? It's an astounding number; you must be running a good programme
    Hi
    I shall start at the bottom of your post first if thats OK! We are extremely fortunate to have a large, reasonably new (1991) purpose built HQ. We have a large hall, 8 patrol rooms off this (4 each side) with two more rooms off this hall to hold the Cub Leaders equipment and the Beaver Leaders kit. We have a relativley large galley and in the hallway we have another room which holds the Venture Den (can hold 10 comfortably so they are squished!), upstairs is the Leaders room and Leaders toilet/shower room. The upstairs is over the downstairs toilets and showers so is not as large as it sounds and I tend to use that for my leadership team and my resources. Out back we have a workshop for the boats, a tentstore and a boatstore (for things like sails, paddles, booms etc.) So that is how I cram 65 in! I only took over 2 years ago so I am still learning (always will be I guess!). The Troop has run at 65 for the past 30 odd years to the best of my knowledge, it could be even longer.
    I would be interested to know how you manage to timetable two colonies, packs and troops. Our Beavers meet Mondays, also our Exec once a month, Tues in the winter is our RYA programme plus it is rented out early evening for a local after school thing, Wed is currently free - it used to be Explorer night, and Cubs want to run archery for a while, Thurs is Cubs and Frid Scouts. Scouts meet from 6.30 -9.00, Cubs 6.30 -8, Beavers 6 -7.15. As you are probably only too well aware, as Leaders we are rarely out of the building with the YP! Do the same Leaders run both lots or do you have separate leaders?
    As far as I know the drop out rate at 14 has always been low for us, generally YP tended to drop out after the 3 yearly trip to Kandersteg, the winter programme was usually the excuse - however, I have revitalised this and since I took over I have 'lost' only 6 Scouts who have left Scouting before moving up to Explorers. I have lost people to Scouting who could not do the Wednesday night, or who did not wish to join Explorers because of the people who were in hte Unit - I like the idea of team leaders, however, when I tried to encourage the Explorers to assist us on the water, they were reluctant as they wanted to have their own programme! I have currently only 1 YL in the Group and he is not attending the unit at present. I do have another Explorer who has expressed interest but he only wants to do it to cover his DofE service element. I think part of the problem is the Explorer programme and I have and continue to try to help the Explorer Leaders with this, but I do have my own Troop to look after and time is limited sadly.
    I do not have a problem with discipline in our Troop luckily and on a Friday evening it is generally the Explorers who are larking around and being a pain! My opinion obviously!
    Please don't get me wrong, I love having them there and I love the continuity, but for me and my Troop it just ain't working!
    Sorry for the long post, but drop me a pm and perhaps we can discuss this further through email?
    Hilary

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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    Have very much the same issues posed by Hilary. again the issues for us is that as active Sea scouts that 14.5 to 16 age group was so useful for kids really passing stuff on and being an assistance.

    We bridge it slightly by using joint stuff with Explorers and our numbers have grown slightly since the age group changes - but don't know if that is related to this or 101 other changes.

    My plea would be for greater flexability - and of course the related one - please let us have Group Explorer units -not just partnered ones!

    Rich

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    It is up to your District (mainly the District Explorer Scout Commissioner) how Explorers is run but if you have a Group large enough to support its own Explorer Unit then if you ask you may well be able to set one up partnered specifically with just your Group.

    Having said that although we do use our Explorers to help run parts of the Scout programme when appropriate, we also have a lot of our meetings with no contact with the Scouts. IMHO it is important that Explorers do have their own separate programme and are not just treated as older Scouts, although I do struggle with this myself sometimes due to a combination of lack of Leaders, transport and authorizations.

    Peter Andrews ESL 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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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    IMHO it is important that Explorers do have their own separate programme and are not just treated as older Scouts, although I do struggle with this myself sometimes due to a combination of lack of Leaders, transport and authorizations.
    Absolutely agree with that, I think the oneous has to be on them to be back for a specific purpose when they are Explorers, not than to just be around as older scouts. However at times it would be useful to have older scouts! (lifting boats with 13 year olds is harder work - and at times simply not safe to do)

    (now blundering off the topic) We have a partnered unit which runs really well - and to the members and the public it is part of the group - but on paper it is just that - a part of the district provision partnered to the group - so it creates more admin (eg different set of accounts to be combined into different entity) and worries (conern over equipment being available district wide) than if there was a simple choice from HQ - ESUs can be part of a group or a district provision, dependant on circumstances.

    Rich

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    In reply to Hilary's post:

    Hi Hilary,

    Firstly our meeting times:

    Monday - Cubs 6.30 - 8pm (rented to pilates during daytime)
    Monday - Group Exec 8pm, 2nd of the month upstairs
    Tuesday - Beavers 4.30 - 6pm (rented to healing group during day)
    Tuesday - Explorers 8 - 10pm
    Wednesday - Cubs 6.30 - 10pm (jumble sale during the day)
    Wednesday - Leaders Meeting (8pm every couple of months)
    Thursday - Beavers 4.30 - 6pm (cleaner (am))
    Thursday - Scouts 7.15 - 9pm
    Friday - Scouts 7.15 - 9pm
    Saturday - usually hired out
    Sunday - Cleaner (am), (hired in evening).

    It all just about fits in. The hall rentals pay for the running of the hall which is great. Our hq was designed by our previous GSL in the 1970's who was an architect for the railways. The building was certainly built to last and copes well with the high amount of use and limited oportunities for maintenance that it receives. We basically have a main hall, QM, section stores, kitchen and toilets downstairs and the Explorer room and committee rooms upstairs (although these are used by all sections).

    We generally have separate leaders for each section. We all help the other sections from time to time, but not regularly (only to cover holidays or illness etc).

    The Explorer Unit, like all of the sections, runs it's own programme which is not connected or joined to any other section(s). We're fortunate to be part of a group. We receive all of our assistance from within the group - with all due respect to the district, the districts role was traditionally to support adults and they are not really equipped to support a section who use more resources than all of the other sections put together. We're also able to give a lot back to the Group, mainly by providing 25 Young Leaders. All of the sections regard the Explorers as an asset and they work extremely hard within the sections.

    I guess the YL issue is a cultural thing. For us it has gradually built up over the years and the Explorers usually come and ask us who they can assist with. The Explorer programme that we run is very active and all of Explorers seem to recognise the effort that we, as leaders, put in and are very keen to give something back. They have always loved helping at Cubs and Beavers.

    Supporting the Scout Troops was always our weakness as a Unit. The Explorers were generally helping at a section by age 15 and by age 16 are very attached to the section that they help at. By 16 they are also very useful and the Beaver and Cub leaders are reluctant to release them to help at Scouts. The leaders from both Troops were in agreement that they found it hard to run a patrol based Troop without the more mature Scouts. We discussed whether increasing the Explorer age to 14.5 would help, but concluded that it wouldn't really help either section.

    Two weeks ago we introduced the Explorers as "team leaders" to every patrol in the Friday troop. The troop also has 2 age 17 Explorer YL's as part of the leadership team. To date, this has worked really well. The Explorers enjoy working in the troop, yet only have to work with 5 scouts rather than all 30, so they can bond quickly with the scouts. The scouts seem to respect the explorers and seem attentive to receiving instructions from someone who is more or less within their peer group. Only time will tell whether we're successful, but the early signs are extremely good

    I also seem to have written an essay Drop me a pm if there's anything else. I'll try to remember to post an update in a few weeks time.

    Tony

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    Senior Member derekchambers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdclark View Post
    Funnily enough I have the opposite problem with ages.

    I have problems now moving my older cubs up to my scout group. I am restricted in size as to how many youngsters I may have in our building to being 24 Beavers, 24 Cubs and 20 Scouts (24 at a push if all of the activities are outdoors). I now have no room for my cubs to go into my troop and they are having to move on to other groups.
    i am soon going to have this problem, i dont think the changes were made for inner london groups at all - 14 the scouts become useful you start relying on them probably a bit too much and then they get removed to the district
    Derek Chambers,

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    Senior Member Heron's Avatar
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    Hi 9thSkip

    I have an idea...might be worth sleeping on before taking it further...

    Give me a ring or pop in for a coffee when you have a moment!

    Heron
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    Account Closed Raksha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heron View Post
    Hi 9thSkip

    I have an idea...might be worth sleeping on before taking it further...

    Give me a ring or pop in for a coffee when you have a moment!

    Heron
    oh no! ok will do, probably Friday.

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninthskip View Post
    I do not have a problem with discipline in our Troop luckily and on a Friday evening it is generally the Explorers who are larking around and being a pain! My opinion obviously!
    Please don't get me wrong, I love having them there and I love the continuity, but for me and my Troop it just ain't working!
    If there's one thing Explorers are good at, it's larking about! There's also probably an element of "showing off" or "rebellion" or "look how cool I am" from the Explorers directed at the scouts. "We don't have to do that stupid scout stuff anymore".

    Maybe you should try them meeting on another night, with their own organised programme. Then they would only come back to the troop as young leaders, and in a ideal world, would therefore have a "proper" job to do, instead of larking around until skip needs a hand.

    I've vetoed Explorer Scouts going straight back to scouts as YLs, at least, back to the troop they came from, they've gone to another troop, and the scouts see them as a YL and not "my old PL".
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

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    ASL and YLUL wealdbrook's Avatar
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    I would agree - older Scouts are bad enough when they are ready to go to Explorers and start to get bored/disruptive - they would be even worse if one allowed them straight back as YLs. Either another troop, or another section for a year first would be my advice.

    To be fair, I don't think the YLs or the Scouts would appreciate a 15 year old YL - youngsters want some structure and discipline - they need to learn some respect and the YLs need to learn how to gain it - if they are all the same age then that is really hard.
    John Alexander,
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    Account Closed Raksha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    Maybe you should try them meeting on another night, with their own organised programme. Then they would only come back to the troop as young leaders, and in a ideal world, would therefore have a "proper" job to do, instead of larking around until skip needs a hand.
    They used to meet on another night, but due to lack of leaders we temporarily moved them to the same night as us and they expanded! To move them back to their usual night, we would lose the two leaders we have gained for them (they can't due a midweek night) and the existing leader is due to go into hospital soon so they are with us for a while yet!

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    It's a shame that Explorers seem to be viewed in a somewhat negative light within some Disricts or Groups. We're all here to provide opportunities to YP and we're failing if we feel that any of the age groups are not worth the hassle. A few pointers that I think should be considered for the Explorer section are:

    1. Provide a varied and exciting programme.
    2. Meet separately to all the other sections.
    3. Try to meet outside of your HQ for about 50% of meetings.
    4. Provide exciting, adventurous, challenging and fun packed expeditions, some held abroad - not to be like packaged school trips or family holidays.
    5. Fundraise for international expeditions and ensure every Explorer takes part.
    6. Have a strong leadership team who all give 200%
    7. Be ambitious and never stop developing the unit.
    8. Leaders run the majority of meetings - the Explorers are there to have fun with their friends! They then get the time and enthusiasm to put maximum effort towards being YL's.
    9. Don't ever compromise standards or discipline. The Explorer Unit should always be treated as a Scouting section and not a youth club.
    10. Have a unit uniform and be strict about wearing it smartly with pride.

    To be honest, number 1 and number 9 are the key points. If the Leaders and Explorers are both enthusiastic the whole thing will snowball - the only difficulty as a leader is keeping up!!!

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