Stage 4 Teams concluded working in March 2016, and since then their work has been presented and discussed at a range of Branch and National forums. These have included the National Youth Program Team meetings, the annual Program Conference in May and the National Operations and National Executive Committee meetings in June.
We are excited that the next steps include presentations in Branches, which your Youth Program Commissioners will be able to outline further in the coming weeks. These presentations will include the concepts presented, discussions around change and avenues to provide your informed feedback. Each Branch is likely to have a different plan for how these will occur, and we hope you choose to engage in the process by participating in the presentation and workshop sessions, however they run.
The following is an update on some areas of concern that had been raised at these meetings and in more recent discussions.
Section Name Changes
Yes, the YPR were looking at a concept of changing the names of some of the sections. At the recent program meetings, it was determined that this concept would not be pursued at this time.
If you think of why BP named the Movement “Scouts”, he wanted to evoke images of exploration, getting out and about, seeking new experiences. “Venturer” and “Rover” fit within this symbolic framework, but do “Joey” and “Cub”? Would it be better if the names for all of the sections did fit with the whole Movement’s symbolic framework? We don’t know all the answers; we are just trying to ask the questions, challenge the thinking.
We think it’s more important to get the program correct at this stage than to be talking about the names of everything we do, so we’re actually not up to working on this part of the journey yet. We have done some very preliminary discussions at theCrate at AJ2016 and had discussions with Branch Commissioners from around the country, received some feedback and decided to reflect a bit more. Once we are ready to discuss this concept more broadly, when we’re finished working on the other concepts, we’ll be communicating about this to the membership.
Cub Scout Symbolic Framework
Yes, it has been proposed to change the symbolic framework of the Cub Scout section, however there are a lot of rumours about this change. The proposed symbolic framework is no longer Kipling’s The Jungle Book; instead it’s The Jungle. The distinction is nuanced, allowing for a greater interpretation of the symbolic framework to include exploration of different kinds of ‘jungles’. It also allows the Scouts to imagine themselves in these jungles instead of imagining other animals in them, which, especially for the older Scouts in this section, may be more relevant or engaging.
This explanation is way too short to convey the full intention and ideas behind the proposed change, and we’d like to encourage anyone interested in this topic to get involved with the upcoming engagement opportunities on the new program concepts.
As with the current program, the overall symbolic framework does not preclude individual sections from theming activities or events – in fact that is encouraged! The Jungle Book – as with all other imagination and learning aides such as other books, movies, speeches, characters, games and much more – will still be available for sections to use when they wish to as a theme or source of material.
Why wasn’t I told all this by the YPR earlier?
We know it often feels that the YPR is moving too slowly or there must be decisions being made behind closed doors, and we’re sorry. We are constantly trying to improve, but there are also some things we cannot change.
The concepts that have been discussed in this letter, and many, many more, were created by our stage 4 teams. These intergenerational teams (including both youth members and long-term adult volunteers) were based across Australia and worked together for 8 months. They did lots of quantitative and qualitative research during this time, taking ideas and concepts to individual sections and running surveys. We took some of their concepts to theCrate at AJ2016 and spoke with Scouts, Venturers, Rovers and Leaders during the event, and Cubs and parents on Visitor’s Day. The concepts were revised further following the feedback at these events, and the stage 4 teams completed their work at the end of February this year.
Since then, we have presented the concepts to the National Youth Program Team (composed of the Branch Assistant/Deputy Chief Commissioners for Youth Program), the Branch Chief Commissioners, and the Branch Commissioners for the sections. We have heard feedback from these people, and changed some of our concepts based on their ideas.
There are a few reasons we have not yet publicised all of the concepts to the broader membership. Firstly, we have been working on how to do this, when we cannot get all of our members into a room to hear from our stage 4 teams directly, as the first presentation was. We have been working on videos, presentations and notes for those who will talk about this for us. Most of the people working on these are volunteers, so this work takes time. These will be ready for distribution to Branches in August, as they have been planned to be all along. For some of the concepts that are more suited to this medium, we have already been releasing information on our website and through our newsletter.
A fact of our operating model is also that we have to work within Branch and National structures. We have to get permission from the relevant Branch and National Commissioners and Committees before we can share some elements. Branches also have to work on resourcing how they will communicate – will they e-mail members, will they run meetings, will they physically post information, do they need to utilise multiple channels? All of these cost time, much of which is provided by already-busy volunteers, and money. These create delays, but we have to work with what we have.
The YPR is committed to communicating to our members, gathering feedback and hearing from youth and adults in a way that no other review has been in the past. We have taken many of our concepts for feedback in both qualitative and quantitative ways throughout our journey, and will continue to do so. It’s important to remember though that, like all past reviews and how other organisations and businesses work, the YPR is not a popular vote on every issue. We will be basing our recommendations upon research, feedback from our membership, the wider Australian community, best practice in Scouting around the World and in other organisations, and expert opinion. This is a review not just for our current members but for our future youth members as well.
Where to from here?
As stated above, we have planned and are on target to release the concepts and the concept manual from stage 4 to the membership from August. Your Branch will arrange its own strategy around this, but expect to hear from them about meetings you can attend or to see it at their existing events. You will also be able to download all of this information from our website. We will have surveys open for feedback on these concepts, and will be revising them later based on what we hear through all channels.
We will also be developing these concepts further into how they will work in the actual program. They are just concepts currently, and we understand it may be hard to imagine how they will work in practice and how they will work with each other. We know we need to provide resources, training and much more information before these concepts could be rolled out. We will also be trialling the new program with some diverse Groups, and adapting the concepts further once we see how they work in the real world. All of this is many months and even years away. We need time to develop the concepts, seek feedback, create resources, and then have enough time for a trial to see all the benefits and hurdles.
Most importantly, we must stress, neither the National Operations committee nor the National Executive Committee have approved the implementation of any of the YPR program concepts. We are still in the development stage, and not yet ready for approval. They will need to approve these concepts, once they are fully developed, before they are implemented.
To stay up-to-date with what the YPR is doing, please sign up to our mailing list and keep a sharp eye on your Branch communication channels. Head to ypr.scouts.com.au, where there’s also a wealth of information about the journey so far.
Thank you to everyone who raised their concerns with the YPR team, and those of you who have been trying to dispel rumours when you see them. We hope to continue to work with all of you to create a better Scouting youth program, and we look forward to hearing your opinions on the concepts we’ve been working on.
YPR Coordinating Team