The Program Essentials
Our (new) Youth Program has been designed with our youth at the center of everything we do. It is flexible and adaptable, and encourages each individual to build a Scouting journey each reflects their interests and passions.
Each Scout will choose a different path - some will choose to pursue their peak award, and others will follow a passion - and that's okay.
No matter the path chosen, each Scout should still experience a balanced program that meets their individual needs and interests. The Program Essentials ensure that no matter the path chosen, each Scout experiences a balanced and exciting program that is fun, adventurous, challenging and inclusive.
If we think about a Scouts journey through a Section as climbing a mountain, the Program Essentials can be considered 'Base Camp', as it is the core of our (new) Youth Program. Not every Scout will want to climb to the Peak Award, and that's okay, but we do want each and every Scout to flourish in the Program Essentials - And we do this through Youth Leading, Adult Supporting Programs.
The Program Essentials are made up of three three main elements:
Introduction to Scouting
Completed when a member is invested as a new Scout
Introduction to Section
Completed at the start of each new section
Involving participating, assisting and leading through a diverse Unit program using the Challenge Areas
Let's explore each of the Program Essential elements below.
When a new member starts Scouting, they will be invested – this is a formal welcome to the movement and marks the beginning of their Scouting journey. In order to make sure the new person knows what to expect from Scouting, they will go through an Introduction to Scouting discussion, a bit like an induction.
This discussion might take place over a number of weeks, or in one go. It’s important for the discussion to occur as part of experiencing the program first hand. This will allow the new Scout to fully understand what’s covered through the discussion.
Introduction to Scouting discussions should involve the youth member, their peer mentor or Patrol Leader, and if needed, their adult leader.
This isn’t an interview or test – the person may know very little about what Scouting involves. The person leading the discussion (youth or adult) should have a good understanding and will explain and discuss it all with the new member.
The full details of what should be covered in this discussion are included in a discussion guide within each age section’s Youth Member Guide, which can be purchased from the Scout Shop, or your region store.
In general, the discussion points include:
• The World Organization of the Scout Movement
• Scouting in Australia
• Our Scout Group
• The Scout Method
• Promise & Law
• Symbols, traditions and ceremonies
• Personal progression
Once the Scout has completed their Introduction to Scouting, they’ll be invested in a special ceremony, and given the cloth badge of the World Organization of the Scout Movement to put on their uniform. This badge symbolises their membership to our global movement.
Goal-Setting Every time a Scout starts a new section, they’ll have a discussion covering off the basics of how the program works in that age section. The discussion doesn’t have to be done all at once, and might happen over a few weeks. Another part of this aspect is the person being allocated a mentor to support their transition and help them feel welcome.
You should aim for both the Introduction to Scouting and Introduction to Section to be completed before the Scout is invested or completes their progression.
Introduction to Section discussions, like the Introduction to Scouting discussions, should involve the youth member, their peer mentor or Patrol Leader, and if needed, their adult leader.
Full detail of what’s involved in the discussion is explored in the relevant section chapter of this handbook, and within the age section’s Youth Member Guide, which can be purchased from the Scout Shop, or your region store.
In general, the discussion points include:
• How the age section operates
• What the program looks like in that section, including: • How the patrol system works in the section
• The types of adventures and interests that might be experienced and explored
• How achievements are recorded and recognised
• The symbolic framework and what it means
• The Australian Scout Promise and Law, including how it’s explored in that section
• The Unit Code
The Introduction to Section also includes a focus on the youth member as an individual. The relevant age section Youth Member Guide will include some space for the new Scout to record their thoughts on:
• Their interests
• What skills and experience they already have • What goals they have for their time in the Unit
These goals may be short or long-term goals but are important for shaping the Scout’s initial involvement in the section.
Now that these items have been covered, the youth member is ready to be invested as a Scout or to complete their transition to their new
The Introduction to Scouting replaces the Link Badge in the Old Program.
The Introduction to Scouting can be awarded to anyone joining the Section, including those who have not come from the Section below.
Participate, Assist & Lead
All Scouts in your Unit should be working through their Milestones. On the ground, this involves all Scouts meaningfully participating, assisting and leading in a range of activities across a diverse program (a mixture of the Challenge Areas). This could be anything from a Joey Scout giving the instructions for a cooking activity for a Personal Growth Challenge, to a Rover Scout leading their Unit on a white water rafting expedition for an Outdoor Challenge.
Once a Scout has completed a certain number of participates, assists and leads, they will complete a Milestone. This will normally happen over a 6-12 month period.
Participates, assists and leads will look different depending on the section, and the experience of the Scout. The measure of an appropriate challenge will be guided by the skills and experience of the individual Scout. More guidance on this is given in each age section Youth Member Guide, and each section chapter of this handbook.
The best measure of a successful program is whether all the Scouts involved are achieving their Milestones.
This means all Scouts are actively involved in a diverse program, and are developing their leadership skills through experience. A well-planned program will help to make this a reality; it starts with an engaging mix of all the Challenge Areas, and also requires the sharing of assisting and leading opportunities.
It’s expected that all Scouts will achieve Program Essentials Milestones, regardless of their interest in exploring other aspects of the framework. The Program Essentials really are the core of the program experience.
The exact expectations for the Milestones will vary depending on the age section the Scout is in. Check the relevant age section Youth Member Guide for the expectations for your age section, which can be purchased from the Scout Shop, or your region store.
In general, all Scouts:
• Will be involved in participating (actively! – this is about more than just attending), assisting and leading across a range of Challenge Area related activities. These experiences should be developmentally appropriate for the individual, and at each age section the expectations and requirements will change a bit too. You can read more about this in the relevant age section chapter of this handbook, and in the age section’s Youth Member Guide.
Will be involved in a personal reflection to identify how they’ve progressed through the SPICES.
There are 3 Milestones in each section of the program:
- 24 participates (6 from each Challenge Area)
- 2 Assists (from two different Challenge Areas)
- 1 Lead (one activity from any Challenge Area of your choice.)
- 20 participates (5 from each Challenge Area)
- 3 Assists (from two different Challenge Areas)
- 2 Leads (two activities from any Challenge Area(s) of your choice.)
- 16 participates (4 from each Challenge Area)
- 4 Assists (from at least two different Challenge Areas)
- 4 Leads (from any Challenge Area(s) of your choice)
Joining a Section Part Way
Of course, if a Scout starts partway through the section age-range, they’re not necessarily expected to start at Milestone 1. As a guide:
Start at Milestone 1, if a:
• Scout transitions into the section from the section below
• Scout joins the section less than 1/3 of the way through its length (in the first year for a 3-year section)
Start at Milestone 2, if a:
• Scout commences in the section between 1/3 and 2/3 through a section’s length (in the second year for a 3-year section)
Start at Milestone 3, if a:
• Scout commences in the section in the final 1/3 of the section’s length
If a Scout has finished the participates for one Milestone, they can start to count participates for the next Milestone, even if they’ve not completed their assists or leads.
Personal Reflection / Discussion
Once a Scout has fulfilled all the requirements of each Milestone, as per their age section Youth Member Guide, they will take part in a personal reflection. This is the opportunity for the Scout to reflect on their development throughout their time working on this Milestone.
The personal reflection will be facilitated by a youth or adult leader – this will normally vary depending on which section the Scout is in. With the guidance of the SPICES I… Statements, the Scout will reflect on their development through the program, and consider the areas for them to focus on moving forward.
Completing a Milestone Any achievement is worthy of recognition and celebration in Scouting. When a Scout completesan element of the Achievement Pathways, we mark the achievement by presenting them with a badge to wear on their uniform shirt.
Any badge presentation should be focused on the individual Scout and the experience and personal progress they’ve made related to this achievement.
The biggest achievement isn’t the badge itself, but the personal progression that’s occurred!
You can read more about presentations in the Ceremonies chapter of this handbook.
Once a Scout has completed a Milestone, they wear this badge for the remainder of their time
in the current age section.
Access and Inclusion
The Program Essentials should be tailored to the individual’s capabilities.
The only standard held for the Program Essentials is the individual’s best, with the ultimate aim of them developing and
improving at a personal level.
The level to which a Scout is comfortable, competent and able, should be taken into account and activities tailored.
As with anything we do in Scouting, Scouts should be challenged to stretch themselves, and work to their personal best. Scouts may be
working on skills at different levels to their peers – through personal reflection, development can be recognised and celebrated regardless of their level, and without comparison to others.
It may be necessary to adjust aspects of the program to ensure inclusion of all Scouts in the Unit. Similarly, adjustments to Program Essentials requirements may be necessary for individuals. This might include reducing a number of challenges involved. Adjustments such as this should be discussed with the Scout, their family and home support network, and managed by the Unit Council or leadership team for the section as appropriate.