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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Idea circles

Circles are a great way for everyone to share their ideas about your Squirrels YouShape Award Theme.

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You’ll need

  • A way to write or note down ideas, such as paper and pen
  • Tokens to vote for ideas, such as counters

Before you begin

·       Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.

·    Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Contribution to the YouShape Award

This activity may contribute towards the Planning section of the YouShape Award, depending on the Scouts section you’re in. If this session completes the requirement for an individual or a group, you may want to hand the ‘Plan’ badge out at the end of the session.

Setting up this activity

·       This is a chance for people to share their ideas about how you will experience the YouShape Award as a group. Remember to tell everyone that they’ll be sharing their ideas about progressing the YouShape Award, so they have time to think of ideas. You may want to let people know in the session before or send a note to everyone’s parents and carers as a reminder about what you’ll be doing. 

·       Some people might suggest places for your group to visit or games to play based on your theme.

·       Some might bring books from home to share with the group which are about your YouShape theme. 

·       Make sure to have a way to note down ideas and what is talked about. Another volunteer or young leader could write down the ideas or facilitate the discussion for you to write down the ideas.

·       If there’s something specific that you’re working on as a group for your YouShape awards, make sure to have any necessary resources. 

·       If you plan on having a vote, you could have tokens ready, such as pretend coins or counters, that people can use to cast their votes

·       You may want to use this activity for other stages of the badge, such as thinking of ideas of how you’ll lead or deciding how you’ll represent your work by telling others.

Run the activity

1.     Gather everyone in a circle.

2.     Each young person should have chosen or set a theme for their Central Badge. You may want to remind everyone what their theme was. It may be an individual theme or a whole section theme that you decided on together.

3.     Explain that you’re all going to come up with ideas for your YouShape Award and think about what you could do to achieve your theme. Tell everyone that this activity is all about planning your YouShape Award. You should tell everyone a bit about the badge requirements and what they need to do.

4.     At the start, you may want to remind people about respectful behaviour in discussions, such as sharing any objects, putting hands up, listening, or have an object to hold (such as a teddy) if you’re the person speaking.

5.     Ask people to share their ideas on what they’d like to do to reach their or your theme. You may want to have smaller group discussions or let people share ideas in pairs, then bring them back to the group.

6.    Choose someone who wants to share their idea. They can tell everyone their idea verbally, through drawings or with objects. You or others can ask them questions about what they've made, experienced and shared.

7.  You may want to offer prompt questions or choices based on the theme, or make suggestions yourself, to help start the discussion. You could ask, ‘What does this topic make you think of? Have you ever been anywhere, or seen anything, that relates to this topic?’ If people find it difficult, you could have a ready-made list of ideas for people to use and pick from. It might inspire another idea!

8.    If people have an individual focus for the YouShape Award, such as finding out how recycling works, they can also share their ideas with the group and have a chance to get feedback and ideas from everyone else. 

9.     Keep gathering ideas and note them all down, making sure everyone who wants to share ideas has the chance to. Remember, no-one should be forced to share their ideas if they don’t want to and that’s OK.

10. At the end, ask everyone to help put a plan together. Try to include as many ideas and ways to explore the theme as possible, making sure the ideas are suitable and accessible for all individuals. For example, for a theme to learn more about sea life, some young people may want to see sea life and work together to plan a trip to an aquarium. One person may want to focus on protecting sea life by stopping ocean plastics and they could share their ideas about a beach clean-up. Another person might want to create rainbow fish art, based on a book they love.

11. You may want or need to vote on the ideas to help you put the plan together. It’s hard for someone’s idea not to be chosen, so remember to make sure to offer support and plan in time to think of something to do with all the ideas that weren’t voted for this time. You could also have an anonymous vote. Having a choice of three or four ideas can be better than a choice between two, as more than one idea isn’t chosen, making sure no-one's ideas are singled out.

12. People could also put together their own personal plan if they have an individual focus for their YouShape Award.


This activity involves lots of listening and teamwork. How did everyone listen and work as a team? Did you offer feedback or ask people questions to help them with their ideas?

This activity was also about coming up with ideas. How did people think of their ideas? Were they inspired by anything or by anyone else? Did anyone else’s ideas help develop your own? What was it like sharing your idea with the group? 


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Phones and cameras

Make sure parents and carers are aware and have given consent for photography.

To make it easier, have prompts for people to think about their ideas. For younger ages, you could also offer some ideas and hold a vote, then decide who wants to work on each area or develop more ideas around the ones voted for.

  • People can work in small groups or pairs when suggesting their ideas, or the Section could all work together as a one big group, depending on what will work best for your group.
  • Remember that listening skills aren’t the same for all young people. For example, a young person may need to move, lie down, be standing or fiddle with something, rather than sit in one place to do their best listening. ‘Sitting still’ can make listening more difficult. Try to build movement breaks into your activities to help people who may struggling sitting for long periods.
  • Consider having a sensory box with different sensory input games/toys to help people focus while sitting down. What this includes may be different depending on the needs of the young people. People may also want to use a weighted blanket on their lap or wobble cushion for sitting on.
  • If someone needs support in writing down their ideas or drawing, give them the opportunity to work with someone else to help them. You could also have pictures, scissors and glue sticks available for people to create collages rather than writing or drawing.
  • People who struggle with making choices could find all the options a bit overwhelming, so they might need extra support. They might want to work with a friend, young leader or volunteer to be able to help them to choose. A closed choice can be easier to make than an open question, as people can nod or shake their head in response.
  • Remember, people should only speak or present ideas if they're happy and comfortable to. Not everyone has to present or speak.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.