Every Explorer Scout Unit should establish a Unit planning forum to provide the opportunity for all of the Explorer Scouts to have their say.
The following could all be discussed at a Unit forum:
- The content of the Unit programme.
- Camp venues and activities.
- If the Unit has funds to spend, the forum could discuss what to spend these on, for example outdoor equipment.
- Fundraising ideas, for example to help those completing their Explorer Belt, or to subsidise the cost of a camp or activity.
- Though leaders are responsible for making the agreed programme happen, Explorers who want to help organise and run activities should be encouraged and supported. Explorers could point out activities they would like to run at the forum.
Running a Unit planning forum
To help you organise a successful Scout Troop forum, you can use the following tried and tested steps as a guide:
- They should take place every term and could take place during a normal meeting.
- The structure should be flexible and informal as long, formal meetings may discourage participation.
- Some Groups may choose to have a ‘representative forum’, which is a small group of elected or appointed Explorer Scouts from a Unit, while others involve all members of the Unit.
- A Chairperson could be elected, who leads the discussion, and another Explorer could take notes on the discussion. Members of the Unit could take it in turns to have these roles.
- You could ask the Explorers to vote, eg on a selection of suitable camp venues, or let them have an open discussion and make their own suggestions.
- Pin up large pieces of paper to create a graffiti wall, where any suggestions could be written. The Explorers can then look over the graffiti wall and pick out the most popular suggestions, and the leaders can try and include these in the programme.
- Snacks such as biscuits or pizza could be provided, and the Explorers could take it in turn to bring in snacks, or make them during the meeting before the forum.
It is important that things agreed with the young people are acted upon so that they can see their opinions are having an impact, and if an activity proves too difficult to run then the reasons should be explained and an alternative activity agreed with the Unit.
District Explorer Scout meeting
These meetings involve all of the Explorer Scouts from all of the Units in a District, and are generally held once a year. They are usually informal social gatherings, which are used as an opportunity to get feedback on the programme of the past year, and also to discuss upcoming events. They could take place at:
- District camps.
- Activity days.
- Social gatherings such as a Christmas Party, or district meal/ bowling trip.
Ideas could be gathered by:
- Asking the young people to fill out a quick questionnaire.
- Having a suggestion box at the event and encouraging the Explorers put in ideas and feedback.
- Asking for a vote through a show of hands.
- Pinning up large pieces of paper to create a graffiti wall, where any suggestions could be written.
District Explorer Scout forums
District Explorer Scout forums involve Explorer Scouts representing every Unit in a District, including the young leaders’ Unit, as well as a leader from each Unit and the District Explorer Scout Commissioner. The format will be different for each District, but these are some suggestions:
- Explorer Scouts should always outnumber leaders.
- Termly meetings are suitable in most cases, as the purpose of the Forum is to regularly review and make changes to the programme.
- The Forum could take place at a different Unit’s meeting place each time.
- The structure is flexible, and they can be as formal or as informal as you and the members want them to be.
- In order to encourage involvement, Explorer Scouts could be asked to mind map ways to make participation more appealing.
The forum could be used for the following:
- Young people putting forward programme and activity ideas.
- Reviewing the programme once it has happened, including gathering feedback on specific activities.
- Reviewing suggestions made at the District Explorer Scout meeting, and communicating decisions back to other Explorers.