Skip to main content

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

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Being youth-shaped today in Scouts

Youth shaped is nothing new in Scouts. For us, it started in 1907 and it’s been happening ever since.

It's about young people working together with volunteers to shape, influence, and lead their adventure.

Today, youth-shaped Scouts forms a major part of our Skills for Life strategy, alongside inclusion, community impact and growth.

A young person who knows how to shape their own Scouts experience through planning, leading and representing has a powerful skill that'll carry them through life.

In Scouts, youth shaped is about:

  • Creating an environment where young people can take chances and learn from their mistakes.
  • Empowering young people to stand up for what they believe in and lead their peers.
  • Putting young people first and giving them the chance to work with their leaders to make a difference in their group, their community, and the wider world.

Now, more than ever, is the time to embed these opportunities into all experiences at Scouts and encourage our young people to make the most of them. This will help us keep Scouts relevant and alive for the next generation.

Scouts is all about young people and youth shaped Scouts is our way of reminding everyone to keep young people at the centre of everything we do.

We know that Scouts empowers young people. They learn to ask the big questions, play their part, and think for themselves. It can help them to build confidence in themselves and stand up for what they believe in.

As Scouts evolves, we want young people to take an active part in shaping their activities, getting involved with governance, creating a culture, and being the face of Scouts.

You’re probably already more youth shaped than you think!

For Scouts to be youth shaped, we need to continue helping young people develop the skills they need to give it a go.

Youth shaped is about embracing diverse views, new ideas, and opportunities, and building trust between generations.

As young people are developing their skills, you can:

  • provide them with accessible and inclusive opportunities to plan their own programmes.
  • encourage them to take the lead on elements of that programme.
  • empower them to represent their views and ideas so that, ultimately, every decision we make has their best interests at heart.

Scouts is a movement for and about young people and each young person in our movement has a lot to offer the world.

As a volunteer, you've the unique opportunity to support them to develop the skills they need to succeed and youth shaped Scouts is the best way to do that.

The UN’s first priority for their Youth 2030 plan is to ‘Amplify youth voices for the promotion of a peaceful, just and sustainable world’.

We believe in our young peoples' voices and youth-shaped is the best way to make sure they're heard.

Young people are the future of the world and they’re already making a difference. As an organisation, we’re committed to helping our young people get ready to become our future leaders. 

  • Create an ‘ideas box’ to give people ways submit their ideas, including anonymously
  • Run a focus group led by another section volunteer, so everyone feels they can be open and honest
  • Have smaller groups discussions so quieter Scouts can share their views more easily
  • Let Scouts come up with and vote on activity ideas, including for trips and camps
  • Evaluate each activity, such as by asking for feedback or scoring activities out of 10
  • Support youth commissioners and young leaders in your area
  • Run sessions created and led by Scouts, either individually or in groups
  • Let different Scouts choose the games you play 
  • Give Scouts opportunities to plan their own programmes, such as by getting them to create their dream Scout term or camp
  • Ask everyone to choose a theme or topic they want to learn more about
  • Have everyone vote on the next activity badge you do
  • Let people share ideas in different ways, such as using stickers, writing, drawing and talking
  • Use open questions to allow Scouts to explain their answer and build on each other's ideas.
  • Capture all information and thoughts, such as by taking notes
  • Feedback to the group on what you plan to do with their suggestions and how their ideas will be used. 


Activities to help you become youth-led

Take a look at our You-Shape activities to help your group become more youth-led and inspire young people's ideas.


The You-Shape Award

YouShape award

At Scouts, young people learn how to speak up and take the lead. But they told us that the programme didn’t recognise this enough. That’s what the new YouShape Award is all about.

Check out the award >

Since 1907, young people have been shaping their Scouts experience by deciding what they want to do and talking about it with their leaders.

As part of our 2014–2018 strategy, Scouting for All, we introduced UK and local Youth Commissioner roles and an annual YouShape month.

By 2018, YouShape month was a success. We consulted with nearly 1,000 young people, Youth Commissioners and adult volunteers to find out how to embed youth shaped Scouts in the programme – they told us that a YouShape Award was the answer!

In our 2018 to 2025 strategic plan, Skills for Life, we commit to getting 250,000 young people to shape their Scouts experience. This'll be half of the young people in Scouts, if we hit our 2025 target of having 500,000 young people.

We also aim to help at least half of our young people to achieve their top awards. This is because the top award requirements relate to youth shaped Scouts.

However, in 2018, the Scout Experience Survey found that only 50% of 13–17 year olds, 55% of Section Leaders and 39% of parents and carers believed that young people’s opinions actually influenced decisions locally. 

Our UK Youth Commissioner has been working hard to make Scouts more youth shaped. To help us achieve our goals, she suggested we should:

  1. Embed youth shaped Scouts in the programme even more, so that it moves from an annual campaign to a core part of the programme throughout the year.
  2. Do more to empower local Youth Commissioners to play a meaningful role.

By creating a new YouShape Award provides a clear, structured, and fun way to regularly make Scouts youth shaped. It also gives our Youth Commissioners in Scouts a focus.

We consulted nearly 1,000 young people, Youth Commissioners and Section Leaders on the design. They told us that they wanted:

  • A badge with multiple segments
  • Different requirements for each section
  • Segments themed around different skills, but not difficulty, so young people can shape their journey through the badge in their own way
  • To empower Youth Commissioners to support adult volunteers to embed it into their programme

We designed the badge itself to be fun and youth-focused – and so the patterns fit together, regardless of the order in which someone achieves the segments.

Of course, Youth Commissioners were central to the process. Our design team consulted with them throughout, and Youth Commissioners approved the final design.

Local Youth Commissioners wanted a real focus to help them make youth shaped Scouts a reality. Now, they can that do that by promoting the award and supporting adult volunteers to deliver youth shaped Scouts.

Together, Youth Commissioners and adult volunteers will give all young people the opportunity to develop their own leadership style in a safe space. It doesn’t matter how old they are or whether they have a specific role in their section.

This badge is unique because each young person defines their goal with the help of their volunteer, chooses which order they do the segments in and decides whether they’ve achieved the requirement at each stage. This encourages self-reflection and helps young people to own the journey towards their goal.


UK Youth Commissioner Team

Contact the UK Youth Lead Team

UK Youth Lead:

UK Youth Team:

Find out more about the UK Youth Lead Team >