- Joey Scouts (6 - 8*)
- Cub Scouts (7.5 - 11*)
- Scouts (10.5 - 15*)
- Venturer Scouts (14.5 - 18*)
- Rovers (17.5 - 25)
Leader roles vary through the Sections, as youth members take more responsibility for their activities as they progress in age. Scout Leaders come from all walks of life, from parents of Scouts, to childhood Scouts, to people with no Scouting experience at all! Leaders need to be motivated individuals with a commitment to providing varied, exciting and dynamic programs for their Scout Group. Scouts Australia helps Leaders deliver on that commitment by providing training and support in all aspects of Scouting, youth leadership, programming and safety.
Thoughts from a scout leader
Scouting Is One Of The Most Powerful Youth Movements In The History Of The Planet. It will change your family's life.
An open letter of musings 5 years in. I am a changed Father.
Let me back up a step. When you are a new leader, and you think you know it all. It rankled me to hear from my Group Leader that it takes at least 2 years to get a new leader up to speed. I thought secretly "What a load of Cods Wallop" I have run Hotels with Thousands of Guests. Organised events with pristine clarity of mind, ran many massive events. 2 Years? Let me teach these people a thing or two. Luckily, even though I am a wide mouth frog, I knew from my training that you have to keep your mouth shut for at least 6 months when moving into any new situation. Thank God I sort of did. I was so wrong and it was humbling. With all my previous experience I was on the same level as somebody who was in my mind on the opposite end of the spectrum. I am sure I strutted around like a peacock at times and thankfully Scouting allows that to a certain extent. The old leaders who have been around for 25 years or more and have seen the cycles many times were patient with me. Most who stay are the ones with a strong moral fiber and then there are those also those who return with their kids. I like to think that Scouting provides a strong moral compass. Nobody can Scout on their own and it is a team effort. Those who don't learn this early have a really hard time. The groups who get this right flourish. Those that don't struggle or fold, waiting to be reborn. The Scouting message is constant and is very strong. No matter what your personal overlay is. Baden and Olav Powell got so many things right. Did kids desperately need empowerment 100 years ago? Yes, they did. Scouting changed the world forever because of this unique and quirky couple. His lateral thinking was so ahead of its time and at odds with period thinking. Have the needs of kids changed much? Not really. They still have the same attention span. They still crave a challenge. In a new way, we have disempowered our youth with a layer of cotton wool so thick that it is mind-numbing at times. The allure of computer games combined with youtube and Minecraft is complete. The finest minds in the world are working on internation and timing with rewards systems to rival any addictive poker machine. (I have industry insight) It feeds into the parents fear system and keeps their child safe and they know exactly where they are at all times. We humor ourselves that our kids are learning while playing behind the computer screen. Most computer experts laugh at that statement. Kids are learning at best object orientated lessons. Not critical thinking. It is a cynical look at current western life but we all suspect that it is true. I am a computer person from the days of old where everything to do with computers was hard work. Now it is easy and spoon fed but at what cost. Computers are important but considering how important it is, Programming is not taught alongside English at school.
I walk the Streets of Eltham playing Ingress. (a GPS based game) I didn't notice it at first but after a year of playing it struck me... A simple question. Where are all the kids? Last year I was in India. There were kids in every park. When I was growing up we were always at the park. Now it is like a scene from an end of world apocalyptic movie like The Omega Man. Kids are in the park at set allowed times and then vanish like the wind. Half an hour before and after school. Do we need scouting to provide a glimmer of hope and empowerment and at the same time a safe space that the parents feel comfortable with? Oh heck yes. More now than ever.
I had a lesson hit home a couple of years ago like a 4 x 2 to the back of the head. I was driving home one day to see a car without its tail lights at dusk. No night or brake lights. I followed my neighbor home and as he pulled up the driveway I greeted him and let him know that he was driving invisible. He was very thankful as he had no idea. It is hard to put your foot on the break and run around to the back of the car at the same time. Night lights are another story. John was in his 80's and we started to have a great chat. When he found out I was a Scout leader he passionately chatted for 15 to 30 minutes about all the amazing things he had done in Scouting. How his friends, that he still has now, he met in Scouting. How his wife was a Guide and how he traveled the world with skills from scouting. I don't think he took a breath. Being a scout a few years in and having seen this first-hand nothing of what he said surprised me but it was still nice to hear. I had drunk the cool aid and he was preaching to the converted. As a change of pace, I said. So you said you played footy. Tell me some stories about that. By this time his wife had provided us with a cup of tea each and I was expecting to be in for another 30 minutes with a question like that. But instead, he looked at me blankly and said "What do you mean? We played footy" I said yes but you must have had some great stories. He still looked blank and said. "We kicked a ball each week" I laughed thinking he was making a deadpan joke. I poked a little fun and said: "so you only played for one season then?" Still, he looked at me blankly and said "No, I played right into my adult life" It was then something struck me and started to itch at the back of my brain. An incongruence that started to dig. A parallel that I was making for my own son and we seem to be doing as a society that I didn't want to accept. It took me a few months to fully articulate it but it finally came to the surface and slapped me in the face. I wanted to scream this to the world but in such a sports-mad Australia it seemed like blasphemy.
It goes like this. Sports is great. It fills a ton of time and releases energy. It is very repetitive and comfortable and It gives kids a great space to feel alpha and so many more things but 60 years later. We kicked a footy is the best this man could muster. The depth of experience and memories that scouting provides is a well of life skills that does not evaporate with time. Even people who only did a couple of years still rave about it with pride 40 years later. For such a small investment of time, it has such lasting impact that seems disproportionate with the amount of time spent. One and a half hours seems to a Cub like a full day of life. My son talks about what he does with pride at school and everybody wants in on it. Me being a leader makes me not only a dad but a dad who is active and present. I can make up for my own father being absent. In my case, I get to live vicariously through the experiences with my son and can start to forgive my dad for walking out when I was 10. I can say with pride that I am not "my dad" or mum for that matter and I can prove it. It is not just words and I am not just a wide mouth frog. My name is Akela and I know for a fact that what I do changes lives for the good and done right it is with positive peer group pressure at its finest. I can stand side by side with some of the most amazing people that I have ever met and I love them all. It has taken a little while to let it sink in that Scouting has earned me the honor of accepting the local Australia Day award from my local community. I really didn't feel like it was earned. I had just done what my dad should have done and in doing so was able to help do that for many other kids at the same time.
One final note. Many parents are layering their kids up with sport upon sport upon music upon karate. Their lives are constantly full with no time for relaxation. I hear occasionally "We have to give up scouting as it is too much for Jimmy or Mary". What I hear is that you have layered your kid's life with more of the same and they now have no time for learning by doing. They are doing plenty of being told what to do. It is just as crazy as saying... We have layered our child with English, English Lit and More English but have left our child with little time to actually be a child and to learn how to be a leader of people with both sexes in a balanced way... People want equality of the sexes and to get rid of the wage gap. Scouting in Australia has been doing that for years and is the standard curriculum. It is old hat and not a news story. It is just expected. All scouts get paid the same. = No wage gap.
Think of this in another way...
Mary is at the job interview... All parents and youth moan about how employers want 20 years of experience but it is a closed loop cycle. I maintain that parents have created this closed loop cycle.
Consider these two scenarios upon being asked for previous experience by an employer.
I went to Uni
Helped dad paint the house
I went to Uni
Organised an event with 100 people
Did the catering for the event
Organised a 20km hike and wrote a risk assessment to go with it.
Helped my troop Clean up Australia
Ran for charity
Built many projects together with my team.
Liaised with many different organisations (some of whom were overseas) and helped run a charity event.
And the list goes on and on and on like that 86 year old man.
You can pad out your resume truthfully with scouting and it is all genuine gold.
In all seriousness who would you hire if you were sitting on the other side of the desk? Has scouting broken the loop? It has, and it has been for over 100 years. It has been breaking down cultural and social barriers. Recently even the conservative USA is integrating girls into the Boy Scouts of America. Who would have thought that ever possible? Yes this argument is overly simplistic but it is true. As a former employer, I would employ a scout every day of the week if they were available.
Yes, people are precious about their sport and the importance that it plays in the life of their child. I wonder how much it is the parent being lazy and not wanting to get dressed in a chicken outfit and attend a camp with their child. It is easier just to Prozac their child with another session of a sport.
Proud Akela and Father.