New Zeeland

Cross bridges

“We empower youth through adventurous experiences to lead lives that make a positive difference” – is the purpose of Scouting in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In 2015, Scouts New Zealand launched a ten year strategic plan called Better Prepared with five key strategic priorities that would transform and grow Scouting in New Zealand. One of these five priorities, Quality and Relevant Programme, had practical actions identified during the development of the strategy to review and develop a new Youth Programme for SCOUTS New Zealand.

The current Youth Programme at that time was determined to be no longer fit for purpose due to a variety of reasons;

  • The programme had not been updated or reviewed for some time, and as such, much of the programme content was no longer relevant to young people.
  • The programme was inconsistent in structure across the age sections, and resulted in silos and inflexible transitions for young people.
  • The fundamentals of Scouting were not sufficiently recognised by youth or adult members.
  • Young people and other stakeholders such as parents, had new and different expectations for what young people can experience in non-formal education. These expectations did not align with the programme.
  • Over time, society had changed and our Youth Programme had not kept up to date with the changes in society.
  • The focus of the previous programme was on the achievement of practical skills and a merit badge system for many different programmes and age sections, rather than holistic development.

This is what prompted a review and development of a new Youth Programme under the Quality and Relevant Programme priority of the Better Prepared strategy.

Re-expressing our shared values
Before the review team began to develop what was to become the new Youth programme, one other significant review had taken place. It signaled to our movement the journey that SCOUTS New Zealand was about to embark on. This was a review and reexpression of both the Scout Law & Promise.

By reexpressing the Scout Law & Promise in contemporary languaging and installing the widely used concept of Positive Behaviours for Learning in our values model we could demonstrate our commitment to youth development and to the journey ahead. This values model instillsthe behaviours and attitudes that are expected of all our members, young and adult alike.



This significant change demonstrates that the development of a new Youth Programme is not just the implementation of an educational system, but a cultural and transformative change journey for the entire movement.

Areas of Personal Growth
The areas of Social, Physical and Mental, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual make up the fundamental basis of a person’s Character, making six areas total. This concept is called SPICES for short. Our goal is to have a well-balanced programme in which all of these dimensions have attention given to them throughout the young person’s time in Scouting.
The SPICES dimensions are the same for every Section, however, each Section has a particular journey by which youth develop in age-appropriate ways. Each of the SPICES have defined educational competencies which represent the ultimate picture of the growth and development that a young person should reach through their time in Scouts. They also each have two to four ‘sub-categories’ with their own section-specific educational competencies, which represent the growth and development that every young person should be able to reach by the end of their time in that age section.

One Programme – Kotahi Kaupapa
The new Youth Programme has been developed using the “One Programme” concept where we offer a single ongoing developmental programme from when a child enters the Scout organisation until the end of their time as a youth member. While transitioning through the sections, a young person progresses along their Scouting journey in a consistent manner, learning and growing, as they experience a wide range of developmentally challenging adventures with their peers.

Achieving One Programme is simple. It is a combination of SPICES and the Scout Method. More specifically, if a young person is able to explore their own growth in a holistic way (SPICES), supported by an effective and proven non-formal educational method (the Scout Method), then their experience in Scouting will be consistent across all sections, across the Movement, and across the country. This is supported by educational competencies across the SPICES areas of personal growth for each age section. We have also linked our SPICES model to Te whare tapa whā – Hauora, a Māori philosophy for wellbeing, unique to Aotearoa New Zealand and widely used across the country.

Reshaping the Scout Method – Te Tikanga Mahi Scout
During the review process we also redeveloped our Scout Method, adapting it to the context of Aotearoa New Zealand. Previously, the Scout Method was widely understood to be the “Patrol System” as opposed to many different elements working together to form an educational learning system. This new definition has been very successful and our Scout Method has some very key and distinctive differences. Some of the key changes and differences in the Scout Method are;

  • Promise and Law – Scouts New Zealand had recently re-expressed the Scout Promise and Law back in 2015 and 2016, so at the point of design for the Scout Method concept the Promise and Law was set to be contemporary and had been well adapted to the age sections.
  • Small Teams – Within the Youth Programme young people learn, grow and develop by working in small teams. When developing the Scout Method it was identified that the organisation had differing views and understanding of what a team system is and how it works. There was also no consistent name as many sections operated their teams systems as Posses, Sixes, Patrols, Units, etc – this former model was not aligned to the principles of One Programme and so was reexpressed as “Small Teams” across the developmental age sections.
  • Youth Leading, Adults Supporting – instead of “Adult Support” – One of the principles of our Youth Programme is that it is to be led by young people for young people. Adults support young people to lead their own development and experiences through the Youth Programme by coaching, mentoring and guiding. This element of the Scout Method is also one of the key principles in the implementation of the new Youth Programme.
  • Adventure – The concept of adventure based learning is widely practiced in the New Zealand education system, particularly for organisations such as SCOUTS. Adventure Based Learning provides an opportunity for exploration, adventure, and outdoor appreciation. It can empower a young person, and improve their confidence, resilience, and environmental awareness, whilst also acknowledging that the concept of adventure is different for each individual. This element is best described as “Nature” within the context of the World Scout Method.
  • Seven elements and not eight – The element of Symbolic Framework is defined in the World Scout Method document and commonly found across many other NSOs. It is not present as an element within the New Zealand Scout Method. This decision was made due to a number of factors such as how we had defined our other elements of the Scout Method, that represented the symbolisms and traditions of Scouting in different ways, such as Adventure and Promise and Law. At the time of the previous Youth Programme, only two developmental age sections had a clear metaphorical symbolic framework for their sections. These sections were the Cub section using metaphors such as the Jungle Book and the Rover section based on Knights of the Round Table. Feedback from members and externals proved that these metaphors were not inclusive and were discontinued as the metaphors for these sections. This is not to say that the New Zealand Youth Programme does not have its own symbols and rituals, it is a point of progression where we look to the future and ensure our current Scouting traditions and rituals are inclusive, have a current benefit and enable positive youth development.

Programme Areas
A characteristic of the programme and the progressive scheme is that it is based on educational competencies. The way we translate these competencies in a non-prescriptive way is through the use of what we call Programme Areas. Programme Areas embed the Areas of Personal Growth (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Character, Emotional and Spiritual) across a wide range of learning opportunities that fall under the three categories;

  • Personal
  • Adventure
  • Community

Learning opportunities that fall across the three Programme Areas link back to the educational competencies and assist in providing depth and balance to the Youth Programme. The Programme Areas were already a familiar concept to our young people and adult volunteers as they were present under the previous award scheme, however were in a more prescriptive format.

Within the Programme Areas we have also embedded a methodology of Participate, Assist, Lead. This model allows for the learning opportunities to be structured in a way that young people can actively participate in the programme and lead their own learning opportunities. This model actively uses the Scout Method and develops leadership competencies in the programme. Young people Participate, Assist and Lead learning opportunities which is then recognised through their progressive scheme as the stages of Bronze, Silver and Gold progression.


Redefining the role of adult volunteers in programme delivery

One of the biggest changes we made in the area of “Youth Leading, Adults Supporting” was to define what it means to be an adult volunteer leader within Scouting. The term “Scout leader” was widely used to describe our adult volunteers who operate across all of our age sections. This term does not reflect our commitment to One Programme or to a youth leading, adults supporting organisational culture moving forward. We expect the behaviours and attitudes of our adult leaders to change so that they are facilitating, coaching and mentoring young people through the Youth Programme instead of developing and running it.

We have since re-expressed the adult term “Leader” to “Kaiārahi” which is the Te Reo Māori word for coach/mentor/guide and better reflects the role adults have in facilitating the Youth programme. This significant change not only signals to our adult volunteers the new roles they have in the Youth Programme but also our commitment to biculturalism with the incorporation of both English and Māori language and philosophies within our organisation.

A new competency framework was developed for all Kaiārahi that would form the basis for new adult training frameworks and more. The focus of the framework is based on five developmental areas of – Scout Programme, Safe From Harm, Risk Management, Youth Empowerment and Youth Worker Skills. This framework is progressive with adults developing base knowledge of the programme and important areas of the organisation to mentoring and effective youth worker skills.

As mentioned earlier, our new Youth Programme is aligned to our purpose and with that there are three main elements to the progressive award scheme that offer continuous development for young people using the One Programme concept, these are;

  • Bronze, Silver and Gold progression
  • Capstone Awards
  • Adventure Skills
  • Better World Framework

Each of these elements of the programme offer different learning opportunities for young people. We can also acknowledge that our new programme is well adapted to different branches including Air, Sea and Land Scouts. This means that the programme can be flexibly adapted to suit water, air and land based activities for Scout Groups with a particular special interest focus.

Bronze, Silver and Gold progression
Bronze, Silver, Gold milestones are achieved through completing certain numbers of Participate Assist Leads as described before. The structure is exactly the same in each section, thereby supporting a One Programme approach. A Capstone Award is achieved in each section after completing Bronze Silver and Gold. The Bronze, Silver and Gold progression badges were already part of the previous progressive scheme and were retained as were familiar to our young people and adult volunteers, however the structure behind them changed significantly and are now non-prescriptive.

Capstone Awards
The structure of our capstone awards changed and we also included a new capstone award for the Kea and Cub age sections. This award is seen to be a rounding off of the developmental experience a young person will have in each age section, before they transition to the next. The Capstone award is to recognise personal development across the areas of personal growth and what the young person has accomplished from their time in Scouting.

Adventure Skills
The Adventure Skills provide the pathway for adventurous experiences. They are designed to help young people gain the skills you need to participate in, assist with, and lead adventurous experiences. The Adventure Skills are competency based and have been designed around the One Programme concept with nine levels to each programme and can be achieved by young people at any stage in any section, allowing the programme to adapt to the competency level of the individual young person.

Each area is accompanied by competency statements and supporting information so that young people are equipped with the right skills to undertake their own adventurous activities in Scouting. Scouts can also assess other young people that are a minimum of two levels below the assessor.

Better World Framework
The Better World Framework is a range of programmes that encourage young people to Experience, Act, and Share to create positive difference in their local and global communities. These programmes have been adapted from the WOSM Better World Framework and applied in an Aotearoa New Zealand context. The programmes have been designed to empower young people to take action in their local communities, whilst thinking globally about their actions and has also been designed so that the programmes will adapt and change over time so they remain relevant and contemporary.

Tuakana Teina
Tuakana Teina is a Māori philosophy of interaction and participation between different generations. This Māori term means the sharing of knowledge and experience between Tuakana (older) Teina (younger) people, Tuakana Teina covers the different interaction and levels of experience we use in Scouts and has been used as a principle not just in building intergenerational partnerships, but also in the assessment and achievement of competencies within the Youth Programme. Young people can assess other young people across the award scheme supported by adults, building on the Youth Leading, Adults Supporting culture of the Youth Programme.

All young people are different, have different interests, and learn in different ways. The youth programme has been intentionally designed with this in mind, and is intentionally non-prescriptive. This means that young people can engage and participate in the programme in different ways that are suited for them, there are no set standards that a young person must subscribe to, instead it is one’s personal best and the decisions that the young person wants to make through their participation in the programme.

Renewed Approach to Programme
Scouts New Zealand formed a review team and following the Renewed Approach to Programme (RAP) produced an educational proposal in the form of a Youth Development Policy (YDP). The YDP laid out the principles and guidelines in designing and developing a new Youth Programme, but also from a governance perspective ensured our progressive new Youth Programme became a policy and would require governance approval to redevelop in the future as opposed to a stand alone educational proposal. This Youth Development Policy is also aligned to the Youth Development Strategy of Aotearoa (New Zealand) in which government, community organisations and the community use to support young people to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and confidence to be positively engaged in today’s society.

Youth Programme Review Team
Initially, the National Programme Team, made up of National Section Leaders for programmes in the age sections was the main review team for the development of the new Youth Programme, especially as the review team adapted the Scout Method to the age sections. There was an appointed project lead and professional staff support was also provided to assist the review team in the initial programme development. This changed over time as the programme design and development moved into implementation, where it was clear that more resources were needed to fully develop and implement the programme due to increased workload. A new staff member was hired specifically to support and develop the Youth Programme and became an integral member of the design and development process.

External Expertise
Early on and throughout the design process the review team engaged with external experts in youth development to advise on and give feedback to the Youth Programme design. New Zealand has a peak body for youth development and during the development of the Youth Development Policy, we engaged members of the body to support us in the design of the educational proposal. We also actively engaged with other NSOs, in similar cultural contexts to New Zealand to learn about their new Youth Programmes and provide inspiration to the development of our own.

Programme Workshops and Leadership Conferences
The programme review team engaged in over fifty programme workshops and conferences over the course of the programme development phase. This included programme development workshops, regional meetings and events, age section programme workshops and the national leadership conference. These workshops were not only about designing and developing the new Youth Programme, but also presented opportunities for the review team to engage with young people and adult volunteers across the country to gather feedback and inspiration to further the development process. This was essential in the change process as we demonstrated our commitment to building the future of Scouting in Aotearoa New Zealand, whilst retaining the links to our past as it presented opportunities to engage and socialise key issues or topics in the change journey with adult volunteers and young people.

Governance and National Council
The review team engaged regularly with the governance networks of the organisation, including regular updates to the National Board and National Council.

Youth Involvement
Throughout the development process, the review team engaged and consulted with young people around the design of the Youth Programme. The principle of Youth Leading, Adults Supporting was of utmost important to the new Youth Programme design and implementation. In fact, a majority of the review team, including the project lead for the design and development of the Youth Programme were all young people. Young people also contributed and made an impact in the Youth Programme development through the writing and creation of programme collateral and resources, project management for the implementation, facilitation in transition workshops and the ongoing mentoring of pilot and transitioned groups. The graphic design of new badges and programme collateral was completed by Scouts who were also studying graphic design. The National Programme Team also formed a Youth Advisory Group, who would be consulted with and provide feedback on key elements of the new Youth Programme.

Workload of volunteers and staff
There were many challenges the Youth Programme review team faced in the initial and ongoing development of the new Youth Programme. The initial review and design phase of was was conducted by volunteers who were members of the National Youth Programme Team, however later on in the process and as the scale of the project increased, this was expanded to paid professional staff who were hired to undertake much more of the Youth Programme development and relieving many of the volunteers of the increasing workload.

The initial volunteer review team was made up of around twenty volunteers from around the country
Two paid professional staff in the development and design stage of the new Youth Programme.

Initially, the review team focussed on following the process of RAP to determine the direction and methodologies that the team would use to build the framework and Youth Development Policy. However; further in the process, it became difficult and increasingly the team looked to what many other NSOs had developed to provide inspiration to our own Youth Programme design.

Youth Programme and not Award Scheme
Early on in the process it was identified that across the movement there was a lack of understanding as to what the term “Youth Programme” actually meant. From our previous programmes the focus had been on the progressive award scheme, however this presented difficulties in our methodology as many adult leaders would programme to the award scheme, rather than to the learning opportunities that were happening in the age sections. This was a significant change to our approach to the Youth Programme as we shifted the focus to the learning opportunities and the understanding of the award scheme being part of a larger developmental Youth Programme.

Balancing inclusion and traditions
Another challenge was that many of our members also held sentimental attachment to some of the traditions and symbolic frameworks they had known and practiced for sometime. This was a challenge for the review team as they balanced tradition and inclusion to ensure the new Youth Programme was quality and relevant to young people, but upheld much of the traditions that has made Scouting unique for over a century. There was some resistance to these changes from our adult membership, however were overcome through our communications and inclusive approach.

One such change was the renaming of the capstone awards for each section in the progressive award scheme to be named after native New Zealand native trees which hold a special place in the environment but also in New Zealand culture. In some sections there is a dual name for the capstone award so it retains the link to the Scouting traditions of the award but also aligns with our principles of the One Programme approach and in the naming after native trees to New Zealand.

Developmental Age Sections
A concern early on raised by adult volunteers was that in following the One Programme approach, young people in the younger age sections could participate in learning opportunities that traditionally would only be made available to young people in older age sections. The perceived issue around this was put to rest as we communicated our messages around the flexible and non-prescriptive approach to the Youth Programme. The organisation had already released a new policy defining the age sections and stages of transitions which had already made clear guidelines around these flexible processes.

The implementation of the new Youth Programme was a big undertaking for our NSO and there was a need to balance autonomy and consistency in our approach to implementing our new Youth Programme across the country, in our regions and in a consistent manner, so therefore adopting the right implementation method was most important. The review made a decision to send three advance parties of pre-selected transition workshop facilitators, who were also members of the National Programme Team to Australia to attend some of the Scouts Australia new Youth Programme transition training workshops.

The teams were sent to three different training workshops in the states of South Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as each had a similar implementation method to what we were looking to implement in New Zealand. These were great experiences for the programme team, not only to see a new Youth Programme in practice in another NSO, but also to take the learnings from these training workshops and look at how this particular implementation model could be applied in the context of New Zealand.

Adults in Scouting
As we had finished the design phase of the new Youth Programme we drew our attention to our Adults in Scouting structure and how our adult volunteers and regional areas would support the rollout and implementation of the Youth Programme at a local level. It was important that we considered this from an Adults in Scouting lens and not just from an adult training lens as the new Youth Programme represented a big organisational cultural change and how we would support young people and adults through this process.

As mentioned earlier, a key change was the move away from the term “Scout Leader” to the term “Kaiārahi”, the Te Reo Māori for coach, mentor or guide as this best represented the new change in the role of our adults in Scouting. We then set about creating a new competency framework aligned with the new Youth Programme for Kaiārahi, this meant a new adult training framework would follow to support adults in the delivery of the new Youth Programme.

We would recommend that an NSO implementing a new Youth Programme look at the implementation and approach with adults from an Adults in Scouting lens and not just from the training of adults. This is because the design and implementation of the Youth Programme had implications on our AIS structure and supporting features.

Global Pandemic setbacks
The implementation of our new Youth Programme was set back due to the impact of the COVID19 global pandemic. We had scheduled many transition workshops in various parts of the country before this was halted due to a nationwide lockdown imposed by the government. This meant that we could not conviene any community based Scouting activities, which included our new Youth Programme transition workshops. Our focus shifted from supporting the implementation of the new Youth Programme to supporting Scouting to move online and a continuity plan.

Youth Programme Launch
We officially launched our new Youth Programme at the 22nd New Zealand Scout Jamboree. This was an opportunity for the youth programme team to showcase and build excitement among young people and adult volunteers around the new Youth Programme and start the transition process for many groups. We ran a series of workshops and had a dedicated site for the new Youth Programme which all participants had the opportunity to explore.

A big challenge of this was to ensure that the Jamboree programme aligned with the principles of the new Youth Programme and so much effort was put into working with the Jamboree programme team to ensure that the programme met the direction of the new Youth Programme.

Pilot Groups
A very important part of the implementation phase was the pilot groups who would trial the new Youth Programme, closely supported and monitored by mentors and the national youth programme team. We selected around seven pilot groups in Wellington and Auckland to trial the programme. These groups were supported by national staff and volunteers. The pilot groups attended a transition workshop and were closely monitored afterwards with an appointed mentor to the group to monitor their progress in the transition.

The pilot groups were also supported with drafted programme collateral and resources for them to explore and develop an understanding and application of the new Youth Programme principles. It was very important that the pilot groups selected were in close geographic proximity to each other so they could easily collaborate and form a support network with the other pilot groups and address any issues that may arise in the pilot implementation. Whilst these groups were centred in urban areas, we next focussed our implementation to more rural areas of New Zealand so we could better understand how our implementation could be applied to more remote areas of the country.

A new digital system
During the implementation phase the New Zealand government announced a nationwide lockdown due to the COVID19 global pandemic. This halted all community based Scouting, including the scheduled transition workshops for the new Youth Programme. During this period our national team focussed on supporting all groups in a new online method, including the implementation of a new digital youth programme system called Mahi Tahi. This system was used to support all groups to continue with their Scouting activities online and at home, and would be used as our new digital system overtaking our previous.

The major benefit of this system is that young people could use it to engage with the Youth Programme. This was also supported by weekly programmes developed by the national programme team which aligned with the new Youth Programme, meaning all groups across the country could experience parts of the new Youth programme, even though their group had not transitioned.

Once the nationwide lockdown had ended and we resumed our community based Scouting activities, we then rescheduled our transition workshops as we had made a commitment to the movement that we would continue to implement the new Youth Programme and was now safe to do so.

Adults in Scouting
The new Youth Programme brought about great cultural change in the organisation. We would recommend to an NSO developing a new Youth Programme that they look through an Adults in Scouting lens and not a training lens when it comes to the implementation of the Youth Programme across the NSO.

This was because training only makes up a small portion of the Adults in Scouting structure and success was not necessarily in the new training of volunteers, but the communication and participation from adult members in the delivery of the new Youth Programme. The programme also had implications on other aspects of AIS, such as developing a new competency framework for adult volunteers, role descriptions, training frameworks and recruitment processes.

The development and implementation of the Youth Programme was soon followed by the development and implementation of s new Adults in Scouting framework. As the core business of Scouting, all other aspects of the organisation like AIS had to be centred around the delivery of the Youth Programme to our young people, putting them at the centre of the organisation.

Change Management
The development and implementation of a new Youth Programme is a change journey for the entire movement. We would recommend adopting a robust change management plan for the design and development of the Youth Programme, it is not just about the implementation of a new educational system, but a cultural and transformative change journey.

Governance and decision making
During the design and implementation phase the governance and decision making structures around the content of the Youth Programme changed overtime. The most effective structure was a steering committee made up of various key stakeholders in the programme development including professional staff, senior volunteers and the Chief Executive and National Commissioner as the decision makers of the steering committee. The steering committee met regularly online to discuss and work through the key developmental pieces in the Youth Programme, ensuring the project maintained momentum and consistency.

Implementation Strategy
Scouts New Zealand developed an implementation strategy for the new Youth Programme. This strategy is inclusive of all Scout Groups and zones across the country and describes how we will support them through the transition to the programme. The implementation consisted of the following principles to guide us through the strategy:

  • Groups transition as a cohort
  • Groups transition as a whole, not individual sections
  • Youth and adults must participate
  • There will be a process to opt in
  • Groups will work through a readiness assessment prior to transition
  • No youth member will be disadvantaged
  • Transition process must be engaging and participatory
  • Differing learning styles and developmental ages must be accommodated
  • Support Groups to the best of our ability

The National Support Centre hired a project manager to coordinate the implementation phase and transition workshops. The implementation of the Youth Programme is to be a staged approach in different phases. Scout Groups opt in to transition to the new programme, demonstrating their willingness and preparedness to transition.

We held an open call for volunteers to participate as new Youth Programme workshop facilitators and group mentors and held a series of capacity building workshops to train the facilitators and mentors in the new Youth Programme and the responsibilities to support. The implementation of the new Youth Programme would be driven from the National Centre as a centrally delivered model, however in close collaboration with regional bodies. This collaboration was very important as many transitioned groups would need ongoing support from their region, in some cases, where there might be low population spread, but high geographic spread, the entire region would attend one transition workshop and transition together as a whole to the new Youth Programme. This centrally delivered model would be supported until the point where we would reach 50% of all groups, which represented around 70% of total youth membership. After this point, groups would transition and be supported from a regional level.

Groups were invited to a transition workshop where young people and adults learn about the new Youth Programme and as an intergenerational team, develop their own plan to implement the programme in their local group once the transition workshop is finished. This is then supported by a “group mentor” who checks in with the group on a regular basis to ensure that the transition to the new Youth Programme is going well and mentors them through any challenges they may face.

The transition workshops were intentionally not framed as “training” as the intention of the transition workshop was more about transformation, change management and immersing in the new Youth Programme. Groups, through the opt in process had already demonstrated their commitment to the transition to the new Youth Programme and attendance at the transition workshop was an opportunity to start the process, with adults and young people working together to transition and implement the Youth Programme at their local group.

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