Scout Leader Amber Watson, Capricorn District Commissioner Scott Neil, and Leader Trish Allardice.
Scout Leader Amber Watson, Capricorn District Commissioner Scott Neil, and Leader Trish Allardice.

How Capricorn Scouts system overhaul is changing young lives

Capricorn District Scouts is modernising its record-keeping and progression structure to benefit its 200 young members and become more inclusive.

Instead of marking progression in physical books, the youth organisation will use an online portal to keep track of its members' successes, which will be transferable to Scouts groups across the country.

Forty Scouts leaders from Rockhampton, Gracemere, Yeppoon, Mackay, Gladstone, and Port Curis met at Seeonee Park last weekend to learn about the new system.

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Capricorn District Commissioner Scott Neil started in Scouts when he was six years old, 27 years ago.

He said the traditional Scouts program was about 40 years old, but the new one was "less prescribed".

"It's more open, more inclusive," he said.

"I think it's a much better system. There's new technology, a new way to talk, new way to bring in the new age."

Mr Neil said rather than members being recognised by ticking a standardised box and getting a badge, young people would now be able to progress by doing what was challenging to them personally.

If challenges were set individually, he said, Scouts would be more inclusive, and members who had difficulty following strict instructions - such as those with ADHD or autism - would not be penalised.

"There's only certain ways to put up a tent; there's only certain ways to be safe around a fire," Mr Neil said.

"So our core scouting is generic, but when it comes to interest areas we want kids to be more creative, we want kids to be outdoors more, we want them to actually be involved in the community.

"Now it's more open-ended, so we need them to tell us what they want to do and how they want to be a part of it."

Joey Scout leader Nyree Johnson.
Joey Scout leader Nyree Johnson.

Joey Scout leader Nyree Johnson said the online program improved planning and record-keeping, and included young people more closely in decision-making.

"The youth submit their ideas and what they want to do, and then you come along and actually plan the program, and you tick off what special interest areas it might complement, what outdoor adventure skills it complements, what fundamentals it targets.

"It's about working to their level. We've got a lot of children with different developmental imitations and as long as they're working to the best of their ability and they're achieving the targets that they can, versus somebody who might be a very high achiever, they're going to strive a lot higher.

"It's up to the leader and the unit council, which is the group of youth leaders, to determine what's appropriate for the youth … and then to have a collaboration of youth to sign off on each other's achievements as well."

Leader Amber Watson said the new system streamlined progression through the organisation and made the skills learned more age-appropriate.

"What was on offer for our five to eight-year-olds was quite limited," she said.

"I think by the new program starting them at five and advancing them all the way it's very much more a really large unit."

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