Unpacking the Outdoor Adventure Skills

by YPR Team on November 5th, 2017

For over five years, the Youth Program Review have been studying, consulting, reflecting on, and comparing the entirety of the Scouting program to ensure it meets the needs of today’s, and tomorrow’s, young people. These Concepts, which have been shared previously in Workshops around the country, have been exciting, challenging and questioning everyone’s understanding of Scouting, and how we can evolve to increase the impact and opportunities for Scouts.

Over 2016 and 2017, the New Program Concepts were shared with members to ensure the future of Scouting was on the right track. One Concept shared was the idea of a scheme that reinforced outdoor adventure in Scouting, that allowed young people to explore more opportunities, and a framework that pushed them further. As a result, the Outdoor Adventure Skills (OAS) were developed.

The Outdoor Adventure Skills (OAS) framework promotes youth members exploration of, and progression through key outdoor pursuits. Designed for all ages and abilities, the OAS reinforce what Scouting is well known for, and compliment other personal progression opportunities provided by Scouting.

This innovative framework has nine broad activity streams, ranging from Bushcraft and Camping, through to more specialised activities such as Cycling, Vertical and Aquatic. There are 9 developmental stages within each stream that supports a youth member’s pathway to learning the OAS, and to help track skills that have been mastered, and those that are still developing.

The nine streams of the OAS are comprised of three core areas (Bushwalking, Bushcraft and Camping) as well as six specialist areas (Alpine, Aquatic, Boating, Cycling, and Paddling and Vertical). The core areas represent “traditional” and typical Scouting activities, that one might expect to find common across all Australian Scout Groups. However, the specialist areas dive deeper into other interests, and may be more limited to geographical areas, or are favoured by a group of young people, but maybe not by others.

OAS Chart

The following design principles of the OAS have been used by the National Youth Program Team, Youth Program Review Coordinating Team, National Adventures Activities Team and National Operations Committee when developing the OAS. These outline what the objectives for an OAS concept would want to reflect:

  • Focus on developing personal outdoor adventure skills
  • Skills for adventure, not formal training in the leadership of groups
  • Human/nature powered (i.e. nothing motorised)
  • Involve significant interaction with the natural world
  • Lead to extended journeys and expeditions in the upper levels
  • Have enough content to work with 9 developmental stages

When Scouts Australia looked at this concept for the OAS in late 2014 and early 2015, there was a clear need to be able to provide a framework for maintaining the integrity and core focus of the OAS concept, whilst allowing for more specific and unique activities to be included. As a result, opportunities such as Air Activities, Gang Show, JOTA/Radio Scouting, Trail Bike riding, Four Wheel driving, and Shooting are not included as an Outdoor Adventure Skill, but have not been left out from the proposed new youth program. As the aforementioned activities provide valid and beneficial outcomes, they are incorporated into the new youth program in other areas. For those familiar with the proposed concepts, activities such as these can be pursued in the Program Essentials of the Unit or the Special Interest Areas (SIA) framework. Don’t know what these are? Take a read of the concepts here. By being incorporated into the SIA framework, youth members are given the freedom to set their own goals within some minor guidelines. It is within this framework that Youth Members can complete their 4WD, Air Activities, Gang Show and other similar pursuits personal goals.

If a Youth Member is up to the very significant challenge and manages to complete Stage 9 of an OAS, this provides a very special opportunity for both Scouting and the individual. While likely to be a rare occurrence, this builds significant capacity within our organisation to support the OAS, and once the youth member has exceeded the scope of the OAS they will drive and mentor others through extremely exciting adventures which can count towards other areas of their Personal Progression Journey.

Excitingly, youth may also be able to have their skills externally recognised by the Scouts Australia Institute of Training (SAIT) from Stage 5 onwards, in most OAS Streams.

The Outdoor Adventure Skills have been extensively reviewed and developed using critiques from adult Leaders qualified in Adventurous Activities. Currently, the Outdoor Adventure Skills are being trialled by Ground Breaking Scout Groups in Victoria, and will be trialled with more Scout Groups from early 2018. After a period of trials, the feedback of young people, their Leaders and the supporters in Adventurous Activity spheres will be used to refine the OAS, and how they work in the overall development of young people.

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