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YouShape 2016

#YouShape was a national event held at Dearne Valley Activity Centre in Doncaster. James (County Youth Commissioner) and myself were some of the lucky participants that were able to attend.

There were over 200 participants and facilitators there to learn more about youth shaped scouting and to have our say. We arrived on the Friday night and had a chilled out evening getting to people and making new friends, we were also given pledge cards, so each participant could pledge to do something within the next year, after our main hall sessions and after each of our breakout sessions we would make a pledge.

On Saturday we had to be up at 6am to get ready for a long day. Around 9am we were all sat down on our tables in the main hall. Each table had a facilitator to ensure that we understood the discussions and to keep conversation going. There were live streams to the event all morning so people who couldn’t attend the event could also take part and have their say. We discussed things such as ‘Should beavers have lodge leaders’ ‘What do section leaders and Young Leaders need to do to make Youth shaped scouting work’ and ‘How can we better support those going in management roles’.

After lunch we have sessions on the vision 2018 topics. Community Impact discussed ‘what a high quality impact project looks like’, with answers such as genuinely changes the lives of others, embedded within the programme and develops the young people taking part. We discussed ‘A Millions Hands’ and what would motivate us to get involved in A Million Hands Project.

In inclusivity we discussed all the things we can be discriminated against and answered questions such as, what does an inclusive section look like? And how we can make our sections inclusive? We were asked in our groups to define scouting for all in 1 sentence, as a group we came up with ‘Scouting for all is when everyone in all levels of the movement are treated equally, are included in activities and decisions, feel valued and accept the diversity of those within scouting’.

For growth, we discussed that it is a combination of two things; retention and new sections. We were asked questions such as ‘Is growth important?’ ‘What are the barriers to growth?’ and ‘What is needed in order for us to grow as a movement?’

Before we went to #YouShape we were all asked to do a questionnaire on what we would most like our breakout sessions to be about. There was a choice of 11 topics; Inclusivity, Youth Commissioners, Youth Forums, Digital, Communications, Young Leaders, International, Network, Retention, Speak Up, Governance and Adventure. Our top 4 choices would be the Breakout sessions we would attend.

After tea on the Saturday we had our first break out session. Mine was Youth Commissioners, we spoke about the troubles that we are having within Districts/ Counties/ Areas/ Regions, whether it be communication issues or issues down the line in districts or up the line with County/Region/Area. We spoke about the changes we have currently made so far or are trying to implement with the help of our line managers. We discovered that no two areas were the same, we were all having different issues/road blocks or each having different positive changes. We discussed that all District Youth Commissioners are a part of the District Executive as Exofficio members.

Our other 3 sessions were held on the Sunday, my first one for the day was Youth Forums. We were discussing how useful the Youth Shaped Scouting Booklets were for each section, and we tried different games that could make youth forums more fun. For Beavers we played ‘Imaginary Line’ and answered questions on youth shaped scouting and what we thought of the weekend, running from one side of the hall for yes, to the other for no, or in the middle for not quite sure. For Cubs we played ‘The Sun Shines on.’ which was using a parachute and run under it to the other side if we agreed with a statement or question that was asked, and then we all sat under the parachute having a discussion on how well the weekend has gone and what things we would like to change when we went back home. We made paper aeroplanes with questions on and read out the planes that traveled the furthest, and everyone helped answer the questions and gave advice. We also played team games to remind us that fun needs to be had at youth forums and to break the time up so the young people are not always sat down.

My Second session was Adventure. We discussed what adventure and an adventurous activity means to us. We found out that almost any activity a young person does can be an adventurous activity, as everyone’s abilities are different, whether it be doing your DofE expedition, climbing a mountain or evening singing. We also looked at activity permits and how accessible is it to acquire and activity permit.

My last breakout session was International. We looked at international trips and what you need to organise an international trip, but we also looked at global issues such as inequality, water aid, climate change and access to education. We had 4 scenarios, 1 connecting to each global issue, and in groups we had to come up with an idea to run a night with 4 sections (Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers).

Throughout the course of the weekend we got to meet many people and have a chat with them about our new roles, how we are finding them and some ideas that we have. I had the opportunity to meet Hannah Kentish (UK Youth Commissioner), Jagz Bharth and Jay Thompson (Deputy UK Youth Commissioners), Tim Kidd (the soon to be UK Chief Commissioner), and Wayne Bulpitt (UK Chief Commissioner).

The whole weekend was an amazing experience and as with any scouting event you make new friends, reconnect with old friends and make new memories. To have had this opportunity I am extremely grateful and will be bringing positive ideas to my group.

Tasha Hopkin
Deputy County Youth Commissioner