Is flexible scouting what you think it is

What do you think of when you hear the term flexible scouting?

dancing man wearing pants and long sleeved shirt
Photo by Yogendra Singh on

Yes, the first image is Scout leaders of my shape and size doing yoga.

When I really think about flexible scouting, I have always thought about it as being around adults. A way to provide an option that enables adults who work on shifts or can only give their support one weekend a month the opportunity to support the movement.

What I now realise is there is two items flexible volunteering and flexible scouting and I am confusing them

Flexible volunteering

What is the difference you may ask.

Flexible volunteering – means that people do not have to give their life to Scouting to be of great value to us. That occasional volunteering, helping at one meeting a month, being an administrator, helping with the catering, maintaining a HQ etc. are all much needed roles that make the task of section leaders much easier. Leadership teams are a great example of this.

The message here has often been getting leaders to see that doing some form of scouting every night of the week and having 4 or 5 different appointments is not the only way to scout. People can equally provide a significant value by only being there one week in three.

We can often put people off by making them feel their contribution has to be heroic

Flexible scouting

here we are discussing the provision of scouting, not the adults

Flexible Scouting – means Scouting does not have to take place for 2 hours on the same evening in the same location or event in the same group or unit every week.

Some examples of this could be:

  • A sections that meet every other Friday evening,
  • A section that meet at weekends
  • A section that meet once a monhth for a whole day on a sunday.
  • An explorer unit that has 3 location in different village and moves around them each week.
  • Multiple groups sharing their programme and young people moving around the groups to access the programme they enjoy.

If we take this to the extreme then you could have an explorer unit that has small groups of young people doing programme in multiple places on multiple days.

e.g. 4 on DofE practice on Sunday, 3 at baths on Monday completing lifeguard qualification, 2 working on their youth shape award with the district on Wednesday, 5 completing a climbing course on Thursday and the remainder meeting up for social and planning at the HQ on Friday.

This is flexible scouting in the wider sense, here we are talking about being flexible in location, style location, leadership even young peoples attendance.

Have you tried it

This style of scouting is about taking the “mountain to Mohammed” and giving young people (and their families) what they want. It is not a style of scouting I have much experience with. I would be interested in hearing from anyone with experience in it.

The things I would like to know are

  1. How does it work for you?
  2. Do you find any of the Troop/Unit come to all the different items? e.g. taking up every oportunity to scout.
  3. Why do you do scout this way?

If you have any comments on this type of scouting would be great to hear from you below.

Blogger(atempting), Project Manager - Job, Scouting - Hobby, and most importantly Dad and Husband For more information


  1. Chad
    2 October, 2011

    This is a great idea! I wonder though if people would think that they could skip their Scouting service because they think they play such a “small” role. I, though, don’t care how small or large their service is. I will take what I can get. I don’t care much for the babysitting program we have at times. I feel like parents who should be involved sometimes just slow down the car, open the door and shove their kids out for me to teach. It would be great if they came into the meeting and got involved on some level ~ great or small.

    1. Kiff
      6 October, 2011


      Firstly – Thanks for taking the time to respond to a post it is always nice to get comments.

      Secondly – I think the whole point of the flexible scouting is to get away from this idea that we must do our Scouting service like it is some sort of military call up. I am can speak for the US but in UK scouting the thing that often puts people off is the rigidity of the scouting model, however if you can look out site of the box and find way to engage people with out them feel trapped then it can often work in your favour. e.g the Mom that brings her daughter to scouts and you ask to help out with the cooking for the pre-camp BBQ will often keep doing that event every year. If you decide at the AGM to have a BBQ they are the first person to ask because it is something they are familiar with and therefore often will gladly help. I love my involvement with Scouting but I accept that not everyone shares my passion, what a good leader should be able to do is to utilise that elements of interest he see with in the parents of the Group/Unit .

      I agree that there is sometimes this idea that we are a babysitting service – two bits of advice I can give you (my apologies if your a long time scouter and I am teaching you to suck eggs)
      1) Run late on your programme – i know this sounds daft but you run late on your programme and the parent will come in to see why little jonny/jenny is not standing outside waiting for them. If they see their child having fun you can often engage them.
      2) Can’t leave without a parent – we did this we put a note out to all parents and said that the YP was not allowed to leave the scout hut unless it was with an Adult member of the family (works well if stated in the winter when the nights are darker)

      Thanks for Reading


  2. Chad
    11 October, 2011


    Those are great ideas!! Since my boys are 14-15, I wonder if they will work. Only way to find out is to try.

    Chad, Varsity Coach

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!