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 (available below) 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.
QUEENSLAND WILL INTRODUCE THE OAS AREAS IN JANUARY 2019
Queensland are implementing the various elements that make up the New Youth Program one at a time - as opposed to all at once. We're implementing this way so that we can all focus on one important change at a time, before moving to the next. The first element to be introduced was 'The Adventure Begins'. The OAS areas are next, and we'll be focusing on these until September of 2019, after which we'll look at the next element - the 'Special Interest Areas'.
Between January of 2019 and September of 2019 - we have time to learn about and work towards achieving the OAS achievement pathways, and just focus on these.
FROM JAN 2019 TO SEP 2019 THE OAS WILL RUN ALONGSIDE THE CURRENT AWARD SCHEME
Until we introduce the later elements of the NYP, the OAS badges will run alongside and concurrently with the current award scheme. This means that from January 2019 to September 2019, the OAS do not replace any of the current badges, and do not contribute to the current award scheme peak award. This gives us all time to learn about the OAS achievement pathways, and to get comfortable with how they are planned and assessed. There is a lot of overlap between our Scouts current adventurous badgework and with the OAS Stages, so while we're introducing the OAS badges - our Scouts get to 'double dip' when they are on an adventure - signing off the OAS "I Statements" as well as continuing to earn their current award scheme badges.
For example, a Scout working on completing their Pioneer Level hike will be also be able to complete the relevant I-Statements for the OAS Bushwalking area. Or, a Venturer Scout who is completing their Level 2 Canoeing can complete the relevant I-Statements of the Paddling OAS area.
WE'RE PIONEERING THE OAS
As you may know, there are Pioneer Groups around the country who are testing the various elements of the New Youth Program. This means that the resources around the NYP elements, including the OAS areas are still be tested, tweaked and refined as they are tested in our Groups. Queensland will be first Branch to test the OAS areas in scale, and so we're bound to find things that need to be improved or amended. This means that the handbooks may need to be updated, the way we keep records may evolve, and we might find some unexpected challenges along the way. This is why we're taking a steady approach to the implementation and transition. A project this size will of course have some bumps, and we'll fix them along our journey. If you ever need a hand, please reach out to your Leader or District & Region Teams.
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.
The hardest part of any project is getting started - so we've outlined some suggestions on how to introduce the OAS badges into your Unit. Ultimately, we're trying to encourage the 'Two-Down' peer assessment method - so, the goal is to establish a number of 'Two-Up's' in each Unit (Section) who can then assess the Youth Members looking to achieve one of the lower Stages. We'll call this bench-marking. To start with, we encourage you to begin with just the core areas.
Here's our suggested approach to get started:
Step 1) Learn about the Outdoor Adventure Skills Area's by reviewing this website
Step 3) Establish how you would like to track the progress (or record keep) the OAS I-Statements for each Youth Member. You may choose to print a copy of the OAS Pioneer Handbook to 'tick-off' each requirement (however they are quite a large booklet to print). Or to save on printing, you may like to instead keep track of each Scouts achievements using one of the Record Keeping templates provided on the resources page. Ultimately, you can track progress in the way that best suits your Unit. (In time, a record keeping app/website will be made available, reducing the need for printing. Hard copies will remain available for reference)
Step 4) It's now time to bench-mark your more experienced Youth Members
Select the youth members in your section who have the most adventurous activity experience, and arrange time in your program to benchmark these Scouts against the I-Statements in each OAS area.
A leader who has completed their Basic Outdoor Skills Course will have the skills needed to assess Youth Members up to Stage 4 in the core areas (If you have completed your Adult Leader Training prior to the introduction of the BOS course, please contact email@example.com for information on your RPL pathway. You may like to review the BOS overview sheet - found here at the Scouts Queensland Training Page)
For the higher Stages and the Non-Core Stages, you may need to invite a Leader with a higher level of Adventurous Activities training to attend and assist the bench-marking activity.
Leaders will need to review the please see the Adult Leader Mentoring Qualification Matrix for guidance on which Stages they will be able to Mentor and if needed, assess.
Step 5) The benchmarked Scouts can now assess the younger Scouts, mentored by an adult Leader
For the Core Areas (Camping, Bushcraft and Bushwalking) up to and including Stage 3:
- An initial peer assessment should occur, assisted by the more experienced Youth Member in this area. If a more experienced Youth Member is not available then a Leader (working as a mentor) may perform this duty. The activity involves the Youth Member, usually as part of a group sitting with others and identifying those aspects of the Skills that they have previously demonstrated – starting at Stage 1 and working up through each Stage. The Youth Member should then practice and complete any remaining uncompleted areas, and have these items agreed to by the bench-marked scout - or if this is not possible, a Leader.
For the Core Areas (Camping, Bushcraft and Bushwalking) beyond Stage 3:
- An initial peer assessment could occur, assisted by a Youth Member who is more experienced in this area. If a more experienced Youth Member is not available - a leader (acting as a Mentor) who has demonstrated these skills as part of their formal training, may perform this duty as a transition arrangement. The activity involves the Youth Member, usually as part of a group sitting with others and identifying those aspects of the Skills that they have previously demonstrated. The Youth Member should then practice and complete the remaining uncompleted areas, and have these items assessed by a more experienced Youth Member or if this is not possible - a leader with training and who is qualified in the area.
For all other non-core Skills up to and including Stage 3:
- an initial peer assessment should occur, assisted by a Youth Member who is more experienced in this area. If a more experienced Youth Member is not available a leader who is qualified or an adult with these skills may perform this duty as a transition arrangement. The activity involves the Youth Member, usually as part of a group sitting with others and identifying those aspects of the Skills that they have previously demonstrated. The Youth Member should then practice and complete the remaining uncompleted areas, have these items agreed by a more experienced scout or if this is not possible, a badge examiner approved by the leader and Unit Council.
For all other non-core Skills beyond Stage 3:
- An initial peer assessment could occur, assisted by a Youth Member or Leader who is qualified in this area. If a more experienced Youth Member is not available a leader (acting as a Mentor) who has demonstrated these skills as part of their formal training, may perform this duty as a transition arrangement. The activity involves the Youth Member, usually as part of a group sitting with others and identifying those aspects of the Skills that they have previously demonstrated. The Youth Member should then practice and complete the remaining uncompleted areas, have these items assessed by a more experienced Youth Member or if this is not possible, a leader with training and who is qualified in the area.
Step 6) You're up & Running!
Once you're Scouts are all benchmarked, they can begin working towards the next Stage in each of the various OAS Areas.
Of course, you may find another method that works better for your Scouts, but no matter how you choose to approach the task, please keep the following important things in mind:
- Everyone starts at Stage 1. As the Stages build on one another, it's important that skills aren't skipped. This might mean you have some more experienced Scouts starting from the beginning, but they'll very quickly work their way up to their competency level.
- The Stages are ideally Peer Assessed, so it makes sense to help map your most experienced Scouts first, so that they can then assess their peers of lower stages.
- Don't hesitate to reach out to your older Scout Units (Sections). This is the perfect time to ask our Rovers and Venturer Scouts to drop into a Joey/Cub/Scout night and help assess the OAS badges.
- We don't need to bench-mark all Areas and Stages in one go. We've allowed time in our Implementation Plan for your Units to first learn about the OAS Areas, and then introduce these to our Scouts.
- Queensland are implementing the New Youth Program one element at a time. Leaders and Scouts should focus on the OAS Areas until the next element is introduced in September 2019. Please see the Implementation Plan page for more details.