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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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Module A – Prepare for take-off (essentials and expectations)

Module A – Prepare for take-off (essentials and expectations)

Note: This module must be completed within three months of becoming an ESYL

There is some key information every leader working with young people needs to know from an early stage in their training. Module A covers important topics to ensure the protection of ESYLs and the young people in their care.

This module aims to give you the essential information you'll need to perform your ESYL role safely. It will provide you with the immediate skills needed to assist another section, and to understand your role. You'll also discover how the Scheme works, and find out how to access further training opportunities.

By the end of this module, you'll be able to:

  • explain your role as an ESYL for the section you're supporting
  • explain how local Scouting is organised
  • summarise the purpose and methods of Scouting
  • explain how the Safeguarding and Safety Policies apply to you
  • explain the importance of Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) and access the information within it
  • show that you understand how POR affects your actions
  • explain why it’s important to run activities safely and why it's necessary to carry out risk assessments
  • explain the awards that you'll be able to work towards as an ESYL. These include Duke of Edinburgh's Awards and Scouts top awards as well as their young leader award.
  • understand how the Scheme works and how to access further training

You'll need:

Begin this session by introducing the module and explaining why it’s compulsory. Take the ESYLs through the aims of the module, and what they should expect to achieve by the end of it. Make sure you cover the following points:

  • ESYLs are in a unique position in scouting. They will get to develop leadership skills while still being able to experience the youth programme as an Explorer Scout. Make it clear that ESYLs are eligible to be working towards Duke of Edinburgh's Awards and Scouts' top awards while being a Young Leader.
  • It’s important to remember that the young people ESYLs are supporting will consider them to be in a position of leadership, just like the other leaders.
  • This is why ESYLs take part in the same essential training as adult leaders. Like adult volunteers, they have a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of young people and of themselves.

Dominoes treasure trail (Appendix B, suitable for groups of all sizes, approx. 10 minutes)

This optional warm-up activity provides a quick introduction to the session. It can be done with a
group of any size, and is designed to encourage ESYLs to talk to each other and work together.

  1. To begin, place the dominoes from Appendix B around the room, jumbled up. On each card
    is a question and an answer. The answer matches another question.
  2. Start by giving the team the first domino. Ask them to read the question aloud. The team
    need to work together to find the corresponding answer on another domino, to match up
    with the question.
  3. They should read the question on the new domino and search for the relevant answer.
  4. The game ends once they have got all the way around and created a chain with the first
    and last domino meeting.

Your Scouting family tree (suitable for groups of all sizes, approx. 15 minutes)

  1. Explain that there are lots of people in Scouting who can help ESYLs succeed at every step
    of their journey. Sometimes, the hardest thing is knowing where to go and who to approach.
  2. Give out some pieces of A4 paper and ask the ESYLs to draw a large tree. On the branches
    of the tree, they should draw or write down the names of all of the people who are part of
    their ESYL family. These are the people who can help, support and influence them. They
    should include their fellow peers, ESLYL, ESL, section leader, GSL, DESC, DC and ACC
    Explorer Scouts as appropriate. Alternatively, you could run this activity by placing photos
    of the relevant people on the wall, and asking the ESYLs to match the names and roles to
    the pictures. How do these roles link up?
  3. Encourage the ESYLs to fill out the front page of their logbook, or to record the relevant
    contact details somewhere safe. They should now know exactly who to turn to for support.

Station stops (suitable for all size groups of all sizes, approx. 20 minutes)

Set up a number of stations around the room to get the ESYLs thinking about the Scheme and
discussing it.

Station one (Rank it)

  1. On strips of paper, write down some of different reasons why a young person might want
    to complete the Scheme. Examples could include: ‘using the Scheme to complete my Duke of Edinburgh's Award and Scouts' top awards’, ‘developing new skills’, ‘giving back to my community’, ‘improving my
    employability’, ‘making new connections and friends’.
  2. Ask the ESYLs to rank their reasons in order of what’s most important and motivating to
    them personally. Make sure they know there are no right or wrong answers.
  3. The activity demonstrates that there are lots of reasons to complete the Scheme, and shows
    how each individual’s journey is unique. Do your ESYLs have the same motivations for being
    here? Did they know about all of the positive benefits of doing the Scheme? Are they
    surprised by any of these benefits? Asking questions will help you to kick-start a wider

Station two (Role outline)

  1. Ask ESYLs to brainstorm responsibilities they might hold in their new role as a Young
  2. Prompt questions could include: What might they be in charge of? How will their new role
    change their dynamic with the young people and adult volunteers in the section?

Station three (Worries box)

  1. Ask ESYLs to write down any worries they may have, and to post them into the box.
  2. Reassure the group that it's fine to have worries when you're embarking on a new
    adventure, and let them know that you'll be opening the box during the group feedback
    session, talking through any concerns together. This can be a great opportunity to link to
    other modules that may cover some of the areas they feel unsure about.

Group feedback

Go over the feedback received from the ESYLs at each station. Talk through any worries or
differences in opinion. What experiences have the ESYLs had so far in their Scouting journey? Did
you have an ESYL when you were in a younger section? What do they remember about them?

What did they do?

If you're using the ESYL Logbook, point out the page that contains a breakdown of ESYL
responsibilities. Go over anything your young people don’t understand or are unsure about.
Conclude this activity by giving ESYLs a more in-depth explanation of the Scheme and where they
fit within the organisational structure of Scouting.

Our fundamentals (suitable for groups of all sizes, approx. 15 minutes)
Stick the following words and definitions around the room:

Integrity - We act with integrity; we are honest, trustworthy and loyal
Respect - We have self-respect and respect for others
Care - We support others and take care of the world in which we live
Belief - We explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes
Cooperation - We make a positive difference; we cooperate with others and make friends

  1. Discuss the words. What do they mean to the ESYLs as individuals? The ESYLs may need
    a more in-depth explanation of the words. You could offer alternatives if needed.
  2. Give the ESYLs some Post-it notes.
  3. Ask them to go around the room, jotting down some activities they have tried inside and
    outside of Scouting. Do any of these activities match with the words and their meanings?
    For example, they might write down some examples of how they have shown respect for
    others, or explored their faiths through their activity choices.
  4. Explain how these keywords relate to the values of Scouting, using examples. Then, discuss
    the ESYLs own experiences, and show them how taking part in a wide variety of activities
    can help them embody the values of Scouting. Often, young people express these values in
    their everyday lives, without even realising they are doing so.
  5. Conclude by giving some other examples of methods used to fulfil the values of Scouting.

Part three: Safeguarding

Safeguarding (all activities are compulsory)

During this session, we recommend adults are close at hand to give additional support to individuals who may need it. The subject is sensitive, and could potentially bring up strong feelings within the group.

Begin by explaining that The Scouts has a policy to safeguard the welfare of all members. This
involves protecting them from neglect, and also from physical, sexual and emotional harm.

Cover the following points during the discussion:

  • During any Scouting activity, we must think about the interests and wellbeing of young people.
    We must respect their rights, wishes and feelings.
  • All adults in Scouting are responsible for putting this policy into practice at all times. This means
    that we must ensure that our behaviour is appropriate at all times. We must also observe the
    rules established for the safety and security of young people and always follow the procedures
    for reporting.
  • The Anti-Bullying policy is in place to help develop a caring and supportive atmosphere, where
    bullying in any form is unacceptable.
  • All leaders must take action to deal with bullying when it occurs, and should allow young people
    to talk about any concerns they may have. We must encourage young people and adults to feel
    comfortable and caring enough to point out attitudes or behaviour they do not like.

Young People First Code of Practice for Young Leaders (Orange Card) is available free of charge
from Scout Stores.

Remind ESYLs of the Codes of Conduct that they may have created when they were active in other sections and of the Yellow Card Code of Practice for adult leaders, which they should be familiar with. Now they are leaders, there is a new Code of Practice set out specifically for them to follow.

Full guidance is laid out in ‘Young People First Code of Practice for Young Leaders (Orange Card)’.

This Code of Conduct is about:

  • ensuring young people are kept safe
  • being a role model to other young people
  • behaving appropriately at all times
  • reporting any concerns
  1. Prepare two signs, one which says ‘do and one which says ‘don’t’. Stick these on the wall, on opposite sides of the room.
  2. Tell ESYLs that you'll read a statement from the Orange Card. They must decide whether it's
    something that they should do or not do, and then go and stand at the sigh they think is correct.
  3. After each answer, discuss with ESYLs any questions arising from answers being incorrect and address and misconceptions.

Ensure all ESYLs have their own copy of the Orange card after this activity.

Refer ESYLs to the section of the Orange card which says ‘What do I do if a young person tells
you they are being abused or they raise a concern about their safety or wellbeing’
Explain that they should:

  • stay calm and listen carefully to what the young person says, allow them to speak and don’t interrupt them
  • accept what they say, don’t give your opinion
  • reassure the young person they are right to tell
  • let the young person know that they will treat what they have said seriously, but that they have
    to pass the information on to an adult leader
  • immediately tell an adult leader
  • immediately make a note of the facts as they know them, and give these to the same leader


(suitable for groups of any size, approx. 15 minutes)

  1. Ask ESYLs to share an example of someone who is a role model to them. They could describe someone they know well, or talk about a celebrity who has inspired them. What it's that they admire about that person? Has that person influenced them to think or behave in a certain way?
  2. Once they have shared their role models among their group, they should summarise some of the key attributes they have in common, highlighting any particular skills or behaviours that crop up frequently.
  3. Remind ESYLs that they are now role models to the younger members in the section they are volunteering with. They need to set an example other young people will want to follow. Even though they are still young people themselves, they will need to act appropriately and maturely.
  4. Develop this discussion by asking ESYLs to think of people they don’t consider to be good role models. Why is this? Which qualities are unappealing or uninspiring to them? This exercise can provide a useful contrast, highlighting the key differences between negative and positive attributes.
  5. Try to pull out key points from ‘Young People First Code of Practice (Orange Card)’. Talk about respect, equality, behaviour and attitudes. Link this to their understanding of being a role model to others. Why do these things matter?

Make sure you cover the following points in your group discussion:

  • ESYLs should keep their own copy of the ‘Young People First Code of Practice (Orange Card)’ with them at all times.
  • In their role, an ESYL might notice changes in a young person’s behaviour, whether that involves someone becoming more aggressive, withdrawing, or displaying other personality changes. This may be a cause for concern, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the young person is being abused. There may be other reasons underpinning the behaviour, such as an invisible illness, or changes to a young person’s family dynamic. If ESYLs are ever concerned about a young person, they must tell an adult leader.
  • As leaders, it's our duty to think about young people’s welfare. This is why it's so important for us to get to know our young people and their personalities. This awareness will be much easier for ESYLs to gain, because the younger sections are more likely to relate to them, and may be more likely to disclose information to someone who is closer in age.
  • If an ESYL has concerns about young people or adults, it’s important that you report it to the leaders you're working with, rather than trying to decide what’s happening yourself.
  • If they are concerned about a young person, ESYLs must act immediately. They should never keep things to themselves or rely on someone else to take action.
  • If they have concern about an adult they are working with, they may report this to their ESLYL or to another adult outside the group. Reassure them that they will not be in trouble for doing so, but that they have an important role in helping to keep young people safe, and they should feel confident in challenging and reporting behaviours that are not appropriate.
  • ESYLs can play an important role in encouraging everyone to talk freely about behaviour or attitudes they do not like or find uncomfortable. ESYLs may be more aware of issues than some adult leaders. With this awareness, they can position themselves so nobody is out of sight. They can also suggest more appropriate ways of organising activities. While all adults should have attended a safeguarding session, they may not pick up on things that ESYLs notice. Remember to highlight that adult volunteers abide by similar rules, following the guidance set out in Young People First (Yellow Card).
  1. Explain that ESYLs have a right to be kept safe. Even though they have leadership responsibilities, they are still young people themselves.
  2. Ask ESYLs to create a spider diagram featuring some of the ways they might look after their own welfare. This could include things like not being left on their own with the whole section, having their own sleeping accommodation on nights away, and deciding sensibly whether they befriend younger members on social media.

This part of the session gives ESYLs the chance to apply what they’ve learned to certain situations.

  1. Explain that part of keeping young people safe is being able to spot if something is wrong or concerning.
  2. Split the group into small teams. Give each team a scenario from Appendix C. Give them time to consider the question ‘what would you do?’ for their scenario. Signpost that ESYLs will also learn how to support positive behaviour in Module D, which will further help them to determine whether a young person’s behaviour is usual or a cause for concern.
  3. Once they’ve discussed their scenario, ask each group for feedback and facilitate discussion with the whole group about each scenario using the points for discussion from Appendix C for guidance. Remind them to use their experience as young people to think about times they might have been in similar situations. This will help them to see life through the eyes of a younger member, and highlight the fact that ESYLs may well spot concerns before adults do.

Part four: Safety

Explain that a sense of adventure lies at the heart of Scouts and doing things safely is fundamental to everything we do. The Safety Policy says that it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that they do things safely, giving people clear instructions and information in relation to supervising young people, running activities and managing buildings.

It’s equally important to all of the other policies within Scouts and applies to everyone in Scouting. There are Safety Checklists (small white cards) which help to identify hazards and take leaders through a simple risk assessment process.

  1. Split ESYLs into two groups and ask them to imagine that they are running an activity. For example, one group could pretend that they are building bird boxes with Beaver Scouts, and another could pretend they are running an obstacle course with Scouts. Give each group a stack of Post-it notes. Ask them to walk around your meeting place looking for anything that could be a potential hazard. Explain that a hazard is anything that could cause harm. Every time they spot something, they should label it. Remind ESYLs to consider whether the activity they are running is suited to both the young people taking part, and to the area they are working within.
  2. Ask ESYLs to think about the different levels of risk associated with the various hazards. Which hazards could they deal with themselves? Explain that risk is the chance of someone being harmed by the hazard. Which permanent, long-term hazards do they need to be aware of, regardless of the space or context? You could discuss everyday hazards such as the road traffic outside, or the steps to the kitchen facilities, for example. Ask ESYLs to go back to their Post-it notes and mark with an X those which they think could cause the most harm.
  3. The next step is working out how to control the risk: this is how we reduce it and make activities safer. For at least 4 of their Post-it notes ESYLs should discuss and agree ways to reduce the risk. Before they start, give ESYLs some examples of how we reduce risk and some questions they can ask themselves to help:

Can the hazard be removed entirely?

  • Is there a less risky option?
  • What can be done to reduce the risk of people being in contact with the hazard?
  • What instructions and supervision are needed?
  • Is protective or safety equipment available to reduce risk?

4. Ask each group for feedback about how they would reduce the risk for their hazards. Explain that they have just carried out a basic risk assessment. Explain that this is what adult leaders do for every activity to identify and reduce risks, and that they must also communicate this to all involved, including young leaders and young people and they must review risk assessments regularly. Highlight to ESYLs that they should make sure they always understand what measures have been put in place to keep an activity safe. Remind them that they have a key part to play and that they should never be afraid to stop or change an activity if they feel it's not safe, or to tell an adult leader. If they have concern about an adult they are working with, they may report this to their ESLYL or to another adult outside the group.

  1. Ask ESYLs to set up a game of dodgeball. Before they start, ask them to carry out a risk assessment. Remind them they need to:
  • Firstly identify the hazards
  • Then decide who might be harmed and how. Remind them to consider the individual needs of the young people in the group. Who is playing? What is being played?
  • They should then agree how they can control the risks. Do they need to introduce some additional rules?

2. Once they have agreed how they will play the game to keep it as safe as possible, they should play the game.

3. After playing dodgeball, ask them to review their first risk assessment. Did they miss anything? What would they do differently next time? Who will be responsible for carrying out or managing any controls they put in place, and what is the most effective way to communicate this? Does everyone understand their role? Explain that this process is one which adult leaders go through every time they do an activity. Remind them of their importance in ensuring that activities are as safe as possible.

  1. Start by playing a game of your choice. This can be any game, as long as it has a number of set rules, and involves splitting players into two teams.
  2. Relax the rules for one team, so that it has a major advantage over the other. If you’re playing a game of football, you could widen the goal posts, give one team more players than the other, or insist that one team has to play the whole game on one leg, for example.
  3. See how long it takes before people start to complain that the game is unfair. When this happens, stop the game, and ask the ESYLs to write down their ideas about what life would be like if there were no consistent rules. Why might we set rules in society?
  4. Discuss some of the different rules ESYLs come across in their everyday lives. For example, you could discuss the rules of the law, rules at school and work, or rules of any sports they play. Then, lead a group discussion about how Scouting is no less exempt from rules. Explain that the organisation has its own rulebook called POR, giving an overview of what it's, why we have it and where to find it.

End your final session by providing a roundup of what they have learned in the module. Link this back to the first activity you did, looking at the question: ‘What is an ESYL?’. Discuss what the next steps of the Scheme are, and explain that as well as carrying out a risk assessment, it's important to check for any policies or rules that also need to be followed. These can be found online.

Take this opportunity to give a general overview of the modules and how they will be delivered. For example, would your young people prefer for shorter module sessions be run once a month, or during one long weekend?

You could also:

  • talk about how the ESYL Logbook can be used to track progress throughout the Scheme
  • explain it's possible to do further training in this area, signposting where further information can
    be found
  • present each ESYL with their Module A badge and woggle, once each component is completed
  • Remind attendees that volunteering done as an ESYL counts towards other awards in Scouting including the Duke of Edinburgh’s awards and Scouts top awards.