Your role is to manage the adults within your group and through them ensure that your members are receiving a quality programme.
It is the Balanced Programme that ensures that we are developing youngsters in line with our Scouting fundamentals. The programme of activities is our method of ensuring that youngsters develop in the widest way possible.
The programme your section Leaders deliver will depend on their own skills, knowledge and experience all the while ensuring safety. Your Leaders cannot know everything and so it is important that a wider programme of activities is offered by bringing in those with appropriate skills and qualifications.
You should be assured that each section in your group has a programme that meets the requirements of the Balanced Programme consistent with the ages of the members. Sections should be planning ahead so they can be prepared. It may be useful for every section to have several “emergency” programmes that can be run at short notice with little preparation and one or two that involve fewer adults.
Of course, even well planned programmes can fail at the last moment because key people or facilities are not available. Rather than start scratching heads it is useful for the section team to be able to resort to Plan B – one of the sections’ standby programmes. Not everyone is able to think on their feet and although this can be a useful skill in times of necessity, it should not be relied upon every week.
Each section might have detailed weekly programmes covering the next few weeks, less detailed plans for the forthcoming months and longer term plans for the year and even longer.
It’s safe to say that across your district different groups’ programme planning will be very diverse and can vary from section to section even within the same Group. These are from arranging the programme each week to programmes that are organised on a yearly cycle. The longer planned programmes tend to be detailed on a school term basis. The vast majority however, are detailed programmes on the school term basis.
Just because the programme is organised weekly does not mean it is less fun for the young people, but it might prove difficult for other leaders to plan ahead and be committed on a longer term basis.
These plans and programmes should form the basis of discussion at your group leaders’ meeting. It is here that activities are agreed across sections. Leaders know what is being done by others there is consistency, a smooth progression between sections and no conflict.
The balanced programme is supported by a range of Awards and Badges relevant to each section.
Youngsters do enjoy achieving them and being able to show what they have done. Each section should be able to monitor each young person’s progress through their training programme, earning badges where appropriate. It is hardly scientific but recording the number of awards and badges issued might be a rough method of measuring the success of the sectional programmes.
Resources and Equipment
Offering the young person a range of adventurous activities will depend on the equipment your leaders have available to them.
They will not be able to offer camping if the group is not adequately equipped to do so. If this is the case you might be able to borrow equipment from other neighbouring groups or the district but it should be an objective of the group to own equipment, resources and materials to support the planned programme.
Also consider that having the correct equipment is a health and safety issue. Undertaking an activity without the correct equipment is unwise.
If your group lacks the sort of equipment needed to carry out some of the activities you would like and you do not have the financial resources to purchase this equipment, pooling those resources with the group down the road might be a solution.
Why spend a lot of money on something you might only use once a year when the group down the road may loan it to you? A good trade off could be that you have something useful to offer them in return!
The skills of your Leaders will dictate what you can do in terms of activities. The more adventurous the activity the higher the level of skills needed. You need to be assured that your leaders are adequately trained, experienced and, if necessary have the correct authorisation.
Also speak to your relevant sectional Assistant District Commissioner who should be able to help with putting you in touch with those who are authorised to carry out the activities they propose in accordance with the rules of the association (POR).
You should familiarise yourself with the special requirements scouting has in place for a range of activities and the authorisation scheme for adults who want to run them. These rules are to protect everyone and are not intended to restrict the activities available to youngsters. If the requisite skills are not available within your group then there is usually a way to get someone who does have that skill.
This might be where the district, county or UKHQ can help by offering activities which are not normally a part of your group programmes.
Perhaps speak to a fellow GSL in another group as quite often skills are spread around the district and you may be able to run the activity together as a joint event.
Every adult needs to be aware of the requirement to conduct risk assessments for what we do. It is not just the adventurous activities where accidents happen – most accidents happen when we are doing everyday things.
Your role will be to ensure that risk assessments are conducted. Try your own around the group meeting place. Is it a safe place to carry out “normal” scouting? If there is anything of concern it should be on the agenda for the Executive Committee to address or speak to the managers of the group meeting place if this is not your own premises – having made emergency repairs if possible.
Consider some of the following scenarios which could be for real:
- Beaver Scouts went on an activity by minibus to a nearby park for a picnic – the minibus broke down. How do you carry out a “rescue/pick‐up” of those concerned?
- A leader broke his leg when he slipped on a wet patch in the hall resulting from water leaking through the roof. Could you have coped with the accident?
- Your group uses camping gas stoves for cooking in camp. Are you able to store gas containers safely and legally?