forums ROVERING BACKGROUND DOCUMENT 1. WHAT IS ROVERING? “By Rovering I don’t mean aimless wandering. I mean finding your way by pleasant paths with a definite object in view, and having an idea of the difficulties and dangers you are likely to meet by the way.” (Baden Powell - Rovering into Success) Despite being written many years ago, this sentence can still help us to understand what Rovering is about (and what isn’t…). Scouting's purpose is to help each young person to reach his or her full potential and to become an active and happy citizen, thus contributing to a better world. Our vocation is, therefore, to assist young people on their “way” from childhood to adulthood. This means we have to provide a programme to young people until they reach the adult age and not to stop before (or after) this point. 1.1. The age issue We may have some doubts about the exact age to consider someone an adult. This also varies a little from country to country. However, can we really consider someone an adult at age 16 or 17 or even 18? Probably not. It is true that in some countries people gain some formal rights and duties when they reach 18 years old or even less (to vote, drive a car, etc…). But often it is not until they are 20 or 22 or even 25 that they reach the point when they start to play a real and regular role in society: gain qualifications, start a regular job, start a family, establish his or her own home… It is only after that age that we can say they have reached a stable state of maturity. It therefore makes sense that we continue to assist young people until they reach that state. And one day they will be ready to leave. For the same reason, it also seems inappropriate to continue to provide an educational programme to fully developed adults who have found their own place in their community and already play an active role. It is clear that, at the end of Scouting's educational process, the young adult does not know everything or have all the skills needed to get on in life. He or she knows that it is necessary to continue to develop him or herself throughout life. But this natural process has nothing to do with Scouting or Rovering anymore. That’s why it should not be difficult to set an age limit for Rovers. 1.2. The last phase Rovering is the last part of the way that leads to the adult world and a very important one. Young people face considerable challenges in finding their place in society, choosing a profession, developing a value system, developing personal relationships and building lasting partnerships. When they fail to overcome these obstacles, there are considerable negative effects on society, for example crime, drug abuse and violence. That’s why Rovering must provide young people with the right “tools”, which are useful for living in society and for playing a role in it that can really make a difference. Scouting, in general, provides conditions for the development of some of these “tools” (character, creativity, sensitivity,…) through the activities that young people do. In addition to this, Rovering can equip each individual with some other more practical “tools” which are closely connected with “real life” and its problems, with each one’s community or the world. These tools should be things which each Rover can immediately recognise as relevant to his or her daily life (now or in the future). This certainly does not mean that young people should be “kept away from society” or that they are not able to make a positive contribution to it. Their opinions and actions must be taken into account, because they can (and usually do) bring new perspectives and inputs to renew society. As they approach adulthood, their actions become more regular and consistent, because they are much more secure in their own beliefs, skills and knowledge and are eager to apply them for useful purposes. 1.3. The journey Rovering can be compared to a journey. Along it, each individual collects the “tools” that will equip him or her for the challenges that will come (mainly) in the future. These “tools” take the form of knowledge, skills and attitudes. This concept of Journey or Road or Path is quite important in Rovering and is used as a symbolic framework by a number of associations. Mobility and all the new things that we can acquire or discover when moving from one place to another meet the natural desire of young people to travel and to discover new realities and perspectives. So Rovers are invited to choose their own “pleasant paths” in the world as well as in their own lives. This concept of life choices is particularly important to someone who is about to face a series of new challenges in areas such as one's profession, family, community involvement… In Rovering, young people get used to making their own choices and finding their own way guided by the principles that Scouting stands for. This routine will help them to consider various options and make their own life choices in a responsible way. The Journey has a double meaning connected with the two main dimensions that Scouting cares about: the individual and the community. The first meaning of the journey is the way to each individual’s happiness (the “real success” as B-P called it); the second meaning is the road towards the world of adults. 1.4. Keep it (simple)! Rovering is part of the educational process that Scouting “offers”. Since the success of an educational programme can only be measured at the post-adolescent phase, eliminating or forgetting Rovering means interrupting a process before it has been completed, which has consequences on the impact which Scouting can have in society. So, let’s keep Rovering! It is sometimes the simplest things that work the best! “Rovers are the Brotherhood of the Open Air and Service. They are Hikers on the Open Road and Campers of the Woods, able to shift for themselves, but equally able and ready to be of some service to others.” (Baden-Powell, Rovering to Success) 2. WHERE ARE THE ROVERS? Membership loss is one of the most serious challenges that Scouting is facing today in many countries. The most worrying thing is that this loss is mainly among adolescents and especially among post-adolescent members. This has led to Scouting being perceived as a children’s movement rather than one for adolescents, as was originally intended when Scouting was founded. It is clear that if we want to keep post-adolescents in Scouting we have to “make room” for them. This means that we need a clear vision of Scouting helping young people reach adulthood and of the final stage of this educational process (the Rover section) being at least as important as the previous stages (the Cub Scout and Scout sections). Bearing that in mind, we must help young people create their own “space” (a section with its own objectives, practices, etc.) and provide a challenging and interesting programme for them. An analysis of the World Scouting census results of 2000, available from http://www.scout.org/wonder/ shows that only approximately 45% of Scout associations worldwide (although representing 61.3% of membership) have two post-adolescent sections and that this is the system attaining the highest proportion of young people over 15. This means that, if one of these age sections can be considered a Rover section, only 45% of associations provide real Rover “opportunities”. It also appears from the analysis that, in general, associations with weak post-adolescent sections also have weak adolescent sections. One may say that paying no attention to the oldest age section can lower the expectations that adolescents have in Scouting (they may not see any future in it), which in turn makes them leave Scouting earlier. Some associations often cite the lack of adult leaders as the main reason for not having a strong Rover section, since post-adolescents are called upon to support the younger sections. However, some experiences show that, in the long term, this leadership problem can be solved if, for a clearly defined period, we “let the Rovers be Rovers”. From the total number of people who complete the educational process, many of them will want to play an active role in society in a very particular way - being a Scout leader. It seems that having a good quality proposal for post-adolescents and building a strong Rover section are success criteria for national Scout associations, as well as a way of achieving the Mission of Scouting. 3. WHAT MAKES A GOOD ROVER PROGRAMME? Designing a good programme for Rovers is vital if we want to retain young people and complete the educational process proposed by Scouting. This means that the quality of our youth programme can only be evaluated when older adolescents enter society as adults and play their role as active citizens. If we do not succeed in helping young people reach this point, we are failing in our purpose. Moreover, since Scouting’s role is to equip adolescents with the necessary skills to contribute to the development of society, society judges Scouting on its ability to provide this service. The main challenge, at a time of huge and permanent changes, is to find the best way to meet the needs and expectations of these young people whilst maintaining the fundamental principles of Scouting. There is certainly no magical formula for success and any Rover programme must be adapted to local conditions. Nevertheless, there are some elements that can be identified as key characteristics of a good programme, especially when we think about “what to do” and “how to do it”. 3.1. What to do? Bearing in mind what young people are like nowadays, the needs they have and the impact we would like Scouting to have on society, a programme for Rovers should: Include opportunities for dealing with issues which are important to young people: health, relationships, responsible sexuality, lifestyles, personal safety, life-choices, etc.; Provide experiences that enable young people to enjoy outdoor life and become aware of environmental issues, as well as their impact locally and globally; Encourage the discovery of other cultures and religions along with one's own; Allow young people to adhere to a personal set of values, especially those related to peace and human understanding; Give opportunities to discover and respond to the needs of the communities, developing partnerships when possible, at local and a broader level; Give considerable importance to mobility as a way of discovering other lifestyles and of establishing new relationships; Ensure the development of concrete skills related to the role that each person will play in society: self-expression, time management, communication, leadership, cooperation, etc.; Enable young people to work on long-term projects, developing positive attitudes towards sharing responsibilities and co-management; Include awareness-raising and action on global issues. - 3.2. How to do it? It is important to understand that it is not enough to have a set of good activities or initiatives to be "used” by Rovers or even a list of goals to be achieved by them. We must find a better way of matching the ideas and opportunities that we are willing to provide in Scouting and the “real people” (the youngsters who attend the unit meetings or activities every week). This is what we must keep in mind to implement the programme under the best conditions. Here are some general ideas about the programme and its implementation, which can make some difference: Involve the participants – They have to feel that they are a part of it and not only consuming it. The programme is theirs and they have to build their own activities and projects! Scouting in general has to ensure the full participation of young people in decision making (through the proper use of the Scout Method), and this is even more important when working with young adults. Meet their needs in all dimensions – The programme must be balanced and provide experiences which affect all the dimensions of each individual: emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, social and character. - - Be challenging and fun - Participants have to feel challenged by the programme (physically as well as intellectually, emotionally, etc.) and enjoy it. Even when dealing with the most serious issues, there are always attractive ways of presenting challenges and questions. Contain a personal appeal and approach – Treat each person as individual; he or she must feel important and see that he or she plays an irreplaceable role in the group's life and its projects. Provide progression (individual and group) – At the end of each experience (activity, project…), participants must have something more in their “luggage”: some new knowledge, a new skill, another point of view, a new friend… They have to feel that it is worth living the experiences that Scouting can provide. Go into things in depth – Young adults are not satisfied unless they can go deeply into things. Even if sometimes it seems that a “light approach” is enough, we cannot retain their full attention and involvement if we don’t provide the opportunity of “diving in deep”. Besides, the only way for them to achieve something in Rovering is through a truly educational experience. Be relevant – The programme has to be connected to the young people's daily life (now or in the future). We believe that the educational process of Scouting helps young people enter the “adult world” and live there happily. That is a long-term vision and the educator's point of view. For the youngsters it is also necessary to see that what they experience in Rovering can be really useful in their own daily lives (in a more short-term approach) and is connected to their community or the world in general. - - - - As the Scout Method is the How? in our educational process, it is interesting to see how its elements can be applied when working with Rovers (RAP tool 7): Promise and law – A “charter” based on human rights and universal values. Team system – Most activities are run at this level. The Patrol Leader’s Council is the executive body. The Rover Assembly, the legislative body, is led by an elected “Chairman”. The adults play an advisory and facilitating role. Symbolic framework – The “road”, the journey. Nature – Activities in contact with nature, hikes, expeditions, protection of the environment. Learning by doing – Activities are linked to social reality. They allow young people to experience adult roles. Great importance is placed on travelling, social exploration and community service. Progression – The progressive scheme values the acquisition of skills and knowledge which will facilitate direct access to adult roles and the acceptance of responsibility in society. Role of adults – Adults play the role of facilitator and advisor. The young people are expected to play a key role in organising, planning and evaluating activities. - - - As stated previously, the Rover programme (and the activities to support it) must be adjusted in each association according to the local conditions and current times. However, these adjustments must be coherent with the key concept of self-education and must not neglect the core of Rovering or the application of the Scout Method. 4. WHAT MAKES A GOOD ROVER LEADER? As Rovering is the final stage in Scouting's educational process, it should still be considered a way of helping young people to grow and develop their full potential. Therefore, the presence of an adult as a facilitator to help young people live experiences and learn from them is very important. Obviously, the role of a Rover leader is quite different from that of a Cub Scout or Scout leader. The autonomy of young adults aged 17, 18 or 20, their specific needs and characteristics, requires a very special kind of leadership (if we still can call it that…). More than in any other section, the Rover leader must “walk with Rovers” and not “walk in front of Rovers, pulling them” or “pushing them in some direction”. They must know that he or she is there when necessary and that sometimes he or she can call their attention to something that they are forgetting or neglecting. The Rover leader is not the “engine” of a Rover Unit, but rather a companion who walks alongside each Rover on his or her way to the world of adults, helping him or her to get there in the best conditions possible. The Rover leader must therefore possess a set of qualities that enables him or her to stimulate and manage creativity, so that the Rovers develop their own education. He or she must be accepted by the Rovers as a friend and as someone who helps get the work done. The Rover leader knows about lots of things like history, problem solving, necessities and aspirations, and knows how to give Rovers what they need to stimulate their abilities. At a European seminar recently held in Croatia focusing on issues relating to the age range 16-22, an international working group tried to identify the ideal profile of a Rover leader: 4.1. Qualities of a good leader for young people over 16 Friendly Caring Responsible Democratic Enthusiastic Supportive A good communicator Loyal Leads by example Listens Flexible Organised Creative Plans ahead Innovative Knowledgeable A partner Involved Motivated Open-minded Participates Cheerful Helpful Takes initiatives In touch with age group Resourceful Adaptable Has time Inspiring 4.2. Job description of the ideal Rover leader Job title: Rover adviser Brief description: To advise Rovers, answer questions, have a Scouting spirit, suggest possibilities, provide opportunities, be supportive like a rock, represent Rovers' interests, know the local area, know about this age group. Age: Lowest age limit: 1 or 2 years older than Rovers. Upper age limit: None, but must be young in spirit. Time requirement: Varies, but must be available by telephone. Specific tasks: Be present for activities, find new projects, identify funding opportunities, support the implementation of the Rover programme, inform Rovers about national and international events, establish links with Rover units. Personal qualities required: Be open-minded, available, responsible, active and cheerful, live according to Scouting values, set an example and react to different situations. Any relevant experiences/qualifications: Have followed leader training, have experience of youth work and international experience.