The Scouting Program — Educational Activities
From the very beginning, Scouting was defined as active education. A key element of the Scout Method is learning by doing. Activities are the most visible part of the Scout program. They represent what young people do in Scouting. The prospect of taking part in exciting activities with friends in one of the main reasons why a young person joins the Movement. The activities are what drives the Scout experience.
The child wants to do things, so let us encourage him to do them by pointing him in the right direction and, allowing him to do them how he likes. Let him make mistakes; it is through making mistakes that his experience is formed.
Scouting considers a child's spontaneous activity, games, exploration, building etc. to be an excellent support for education. The leader tries to use attractive activities, which correspond to the young people's interests, to reach the educational objectives, which they themselves have set.
This is why:
- The program must include a wide variety of activities.
- Activities cannot be improvised. They must be properly selected, prepared, conducted and evaluated.
- It is not enough to carry out activities, and it is not even enough for them to be successful. We must also be alert to the personal experience that each young person draws from them, and we do this by monitoring individual progress.
The Characteristics of Good Programs
A good program has four characteristics:
|A — It is Challenging
The program should present some difficulties, stimulate creativity and inventiveness and encourage the participant to do his or her best. The challenge should, nevertheless, remain within the limits of the capabilities and level of maturity of the young people.
|B — It is Attractive
The program should arouse the young person's interest and desire to participate, because it appeals to him or her, because it is original or because he or she feels drawn to the values inherent in the program. Young people's interests vary according to their socio-cultural background, so it is necessary to offer a wide range of possible activities suitable for different situations.
|C — It is Rewarding
Participating in a program should give the young person the feeling of having derived some benefit for themselves; Pleasure from taking part in something exciting, pride in doing something for the first time or in unexpectedly achieving something, joy at having their contribution recognised by the group.
|D — It is Useful
The activity should provide experiences, which enable young people to discover and learn new things. An activity, which is merely spontaneous, involves action for its own sake or is repetitive, is not always educational. The main characteristic of an activity is that it enables a young person to make progress.
Several activities can contribute towards achieving the same objective. This means that the desired change can be brought about and reinforced from different angles.
On the other hand, a single activity, if well chosen, can help achieve several objectives at the same time, even those in different areas of growth.
Activities are evaluated on two levels:
- Firstly, the way the activity was prepared and implemented
- Secondly, the experience created by the activity, taking into account the relationships within the group and between the young people and the adult leaders, as well as the knowledge, skills and attitudes which each individual has been able to acquire as a result of this experience.
It goes without saying that young people have a key role to play in evaluating both the activity itself and their personal experience. Helping young people to do this is an important part of leader training.
The Pack, Troop and Unit Councils are used to evaluate activities.