Flexibility? Feeling familiar with the term? Is it about implementing youth programme in a different way? In a new setup? Does it refer to recruiting new members? How can it ensure greater quality of the programme and activities you offer to young people? Finally, what does “being flexible” mean in 21st century’s scouting?

Relax! You don’t need to take a course on flexibility; moreover, you will find nothing about it in libraries or old scout handbooks. It is, however, something that can be witnessed everywhere and probably something you are already experiencing, without being quite aware of the value it can add to your everyday scout life.

Actually, flexibility is related to effectiveness and efficiency of scouting. Doing things in the same, planned manner is not always possible, and every scout leader is very well aware of that. In fact, it is not always even the most desirable option. On the contrary, introducing a “new approach” can have a very positive impact on the dynamic and effect on the activity or the programme.

For example, once they realised that their leaders do not have enough time or resources for physical meetings, many scout groups throughout Europe started practicing regular Skype conference calls- a cost-effective way of working from your phone, laptop, work, home, even from the park. E-learning opportunities for leaders soon developed. You can easily attend a training module on leadership even if you do not have the time to go to a training site.

Having problems with your members being too addicted to iPhones and Androids? Happens everywhere! Some scout groups are developing online applications where members can learn how to tie knots, make a fire, learn about the Ceremony procedures and finally, download the materials for their next meeting! And guess what- scouts were using social media so much, that leaders decided not to ignore it, but have fully introduced it into everyday scouting. The World Scout Bureau has also developed a mobile app where you can easily follow latest news in world scouting- while on a bus, train, walking, or just having a short break from work.

Remember training modules? Yes, after realising that not everyone can have 10 days to go to a training site, some NSOs in Europe have developed a modular training system- that still allows a person to get all the knowledge and skills needed for a specific position in the organisation- simply by taking several modules- each lasting for couple of hours. In fact, if a person is changing the position, he/she does not have to re-take the whole training again, but just complete the remaining modules.

When some NSOs realised that not all of the leaders were fully aware of the new programme that had just been adopted, they decided to go around the country and have mini introductory sessions and talks with scout unit leaders. This helped explaining what has changed and, more important, why did the change happen. Leaders felt taken care of, understood and supported the new ideas and received full support from the National level to adapt to the changes in the programme.

You need more adult volunteers? Why not try saying so? Some NSOs are following the trend that other NGOs are succeeding in- announce that you need volunteers for a specific activity or a specific position. You do not have to expect them to be with you for the rest of their lives, but they can help you with an activity, a camp, a project. For many people it will be a rewarding experience, which they often do not have the opportunity to find elsewhere. That is why scouting is so open!

Often faced with a question- how and where can I join scouting? Some NSOs have a full list of all (yes, you read it correctly, all!) scout unit leaders, their contact information, scout unit location and the meeting time- online. Any parent can easily access it- even via phone. Or sms?

Uniforms? Always a tough one! Doesn’t have to be. Just listen to your scout group members. They are not always very comfortable when asked to wear official uniform clothes all day in nature. They might want to pick a colour themselves- it can help the teambuilding. They might even want to make their own shirts. Well, you feel like a scout even without a uniform, right?

In the end, our ability to adapt to new challenges and different environments very much depends on our openness to flexible ways of delivering scouting. And, back to the 21st century’s scouting- a piece of important information on it- It happens in the 21st century!- an era full of surprises, where only change is constant and contradictions are to be anticipated!

But you are not alone in this. If you need any more information or support, do not hesitate to let us know. Or if you want to share your ideas and examples of flexible delivery of youth programme and training, you can find us on twitter, facebook, via email to Jordan Bajraktarov (jbajraktarov@scout.org).

Written by Mariana Fragkou and Milena Pecarski


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Jordan Bajraktarov
About The Author

Jordan Bajraktarov

Jordan is a Director of Organisational Development at the World Scout Bureau - Europe Support Centre, Geneva

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