OAS - GETTING STARTED
The Outdoor Adventure Skills (OAS) have been introduced to increase the outdoor adventure in Scouting. These outdoor pursuits, offered to young people of all ages, provide members with the opportunity to experience and then pursue activities of interest in the great outdoors. Whether it is hiking, camping, SCUBA, skiing or climbing, members may choose to gain basic skills across a broad range of activity areas, or they may pursue a small number of activity disciplines to a high skill level—the choice is yours, so what will you do?
The early stages of all Outdoor Adventure Skills are for those who want to try out the activity and establish foundational skills. The later stages are geared towards the Scout who wishes to explore these pursuits in more depth and gain greater expertise.
The Outdoor Adventure Skills are intended to be achieved by individual Scouts; although as part of a balanced program and the undertaking of Challenge Areas, a Patrol or entire Unit may undertake some activities. On any given adventure, there may be Scouts undertaking a variety of different stages in the same group, with each learning and displaying the skills at their own pace.
The Outdoor Adventure Skills carry through all Sections. The lowest stages have been written with the younger youth members in mind, however keen or skilled Scouts in these Sections can progress ahead.
Due to the time and skill levels required in the mid and upper stages, it is unlikely that Scouts in the youngest Sections will be able to achieve too many stages beyond their peers and thus ‘run out’ of challenges to pursue in later Sections.
All stages are written as a statement of competency, a Scout stating “I can” show the skill in question. Only skills that are relevant for achieving goals are included, such as needing to tie knots for specific purposes (rigging boats, building structures etc.) rather than for their own sake. Later stages rely on the mastering of previous skills, so whilst a Scout may be signed off for a stage when they have first managed to show it and not needed explicitly to show those skills again, they are likely to need to practise in order to learn the next stage’s skills and help younger youth members through their stages.
There are no age restrictions on the achievement of these stages except where required by Australian law, such as to be in charge of an activity or a minimum age to achieve a Vocational Education and Training (VET) unit of competency.
Where a relevant unit of competency exists in the VET package, Stages 5 - 9 have been written such that Scouts are showing the same skills and could undertake simple mapping to gain the formal qualifications.
HOW THE OAS Areas WORK
THERE ARE 9 AREAS, EACH WITH 9 STAGES
Each OAS area is focused on a type of outdoor adventure. Each area is made up of 9 stages that our Scouts will climb their way through, starting at Stage 1.
3 AREAS ARE CORE, 6 AREAS ARE NON-CORE
Three of the badges focus on 'Core' areas - these are the outdoor activities that we consider fundamental to being a Scout - they are what we do in Scouting. The other six badges are 'non-core', and focus on the more specialist outdoor activities we support in the Program.
SOME AREAS BREAK INTO STREAMS
Some of the OAS Areas cover outdoor activity types that are have specialties. These Areas begin to break into streams at Stage 4, and some again at Stage 7.
EACH STAGE IS COMPETENCY BASED
The OAS badges are competency based, and so each Stage is made up of 'I-Statements'. The 'I Statements' in each Stage are broken into 'Plan>Do>Review' areas - for example:
Plan - "I can explain the buddy system"
Do - "I have attended at least two short bushwalks"
Review - "I can identify improvements for future canyoning activities"
ONCE A STAGE IS ACHIEVED - IT IS KEPT
As the Stages are competency based, it's only fair that achieved Stages continue to be recognised as a Scout moves through the 5 Sections. So, a Scout may achieve a Stage 1 Camping while in Joey Scouts, and then go on to earn a Stage 2 & 3 in Cub Scouts, a Stage 4 & 5 in Scouts, a Stage 6 in Venturer Scouts and a Stage 7 in Rover Scouts - along with any other OAS areas they are working on.
EVERYBODY STARTS AT STAGE 1
Each Stage builds on the competencies of those below it, and so everyone starts at Stage 1 for each area - even if you join Scouts a little later on. This means we'll expect to see a spread of many Stages in any particular Unit (Section) - and that's okay. We'd expect an older Scout to move through the lower Stages quite quickly, as they have been written with the younger youth members in mind. It's also important to recognise that we all have different abilities and interests, and so each Scout will naturally choose their own pathway through the OAS areas and stages - what's important is that they are challenging themselves in new areas, and further growing in the areas they are most passionate.
THE STAGES ARE TWO-DOWN PEER ASSESSED
The NYP is all about our Youth Leading, and our Adults Supporting - so it makes sense that Youth Members assess each others "I-Statements". Outdoor Adventure Skills will be assessed in a two-down manner by other Scouts. For example, a Scout with a Stage 4 in Camping can assess a Scout working on their Stage 2 in Camping.
As a Scout moves into the higher Stages, a Unit may need to reach into other Sections within their wider Group or District to find a peer who is '2 stages up' in that Area - which is a great way to build networks and connections between Units (Sections) and Groups.
The final sign-off for an OAS Stage happens at the Unit Council level, so it's important that Unit Councils are regularly being held, if not already.
ADULT LEADERS ARE MENTORS, COACHES & TEACHERS
Of course, our Adult Leaders will play a critical role as mentors and coaches throughout each Scouts journey - to teach important skills and to Mentor the teaching and assessment between Youth Members. When the NYP is fully implemented, it is expected that only Youth Members will assess other Youth Members.
To help guide our Leaders, a matrix has been put together that outlines the Stages for which they can act as a mentor, based on the level of Adult Leader training and Adventurous Activity training they have completed. It is expected that a Leader who has completed their Basic Outdoor Skills (BOS) course will have the skills needed to mentor Scouts to achieving Stages 1 to 4 in the Core Areas.
THE ADVENTUROUS ACTIVITIES TEAM ARE HERE TO HELP
We know that as our Youth Members move into the higher Stages of the OAS areas, Leaders will need some extra help to support Scouts who are planning their outdoor adventures. So, just as happens now, our Adventurous Activities team can be reached out to for support and guidance. We'll also incorporate OAS assessment opportunities into our Major Events, providing opportunities for Youth Members to connect with each other for assessment.
WE LOVE A GOOD RECORD
You may have heard the exciting news - an app is currently in development that will allow the OAS area achievements to be recorded and tracked by Scouts, their Patrol Leaders, Unit Councils and Leaders. But, it's not quite ready yet. So, until we have an app, our Scouts and Leaders will need to record OAS achievements locally. You could choose to do this in a few ways:
The OAS Pioneer handbook (available below) has an area for the I-Statements to be checked off, and each stage signed off
An A4 OAS individual tracking poster could be used
An example Unit OAS tracking spreadsheet could be used
Whatever works best for your Unit!
Just as we have always done with our outdoor adventures, it's important that Youth Members continue to keep a log book of their many journeys. There is a space in the OAS Pioneer Handbook to keep a log, however any Log Book may be used. We have included some example stand alone log books that you may find useful in the Resources section below.