Ana's EPQ: the world of Scouts
The title of my Extended Project Qualification was 'How relevant and necessary are The Scout Association's current 'Skills for Life' strategy, and recent rebrand?'.
I chose this because, in all honesty, I'm a complete Scouts nerd! I've been a member of the movement since I was 10, and I am always learning more about it. With such a rich and varied history across the globe, it was fascinating to look in-depth at what makes scouting special and unique in the UK, and how we are aiming to allow more young people to have incredible experiences. I was also a member of the 'Impact Team', a group of 12 young people from across the UK who informed the UK contingent on what the youth attending the 24th World Scout Jamboree wanted from this experience. It was a huge privilege to be chosen and enabled me to have a lot of insight into the hidden aspects of scouts, and all the organisation and forward planning that goes into anything that scouting does, which got me really interested in how and why the new branding and strategy had come about.
Through scouting, I've travelled to new countries, like the USA, Canada, and Switzerland, participated in a Model United Nations with scouts from across the globe, as well as learnt the typical skills you might expect from Scouts, like first aid, or firefighting. This is what makes my EPQ unique - my ties to scouting are already so personal, and this really was a labour of love! I was able to connect with others around the UK, and find out just a little about their own personal experiences of scouting, which isn't something many people get the chance to do.
During my EPQ, I've had to work hard on my referencing - I don't do any essay-based subjects, so certainly wasn't used to having to say exactly where and when I got my sources, and putting it in the correct format every time was a struggle! I also learned that in order to get the information you want, you have to put yourself out there. I spoke to Tim Kidd (UK Chief Commissioner of The Scout Association), put surveys onto huge scouting Facebook groups, everything right down to conversations with my own Explorer leaders. Even though some of the information I gained I didn't use formally in the final paper, everything I learnt from all of these sources allowed me to get a wider picture of what Scouts means to people.
I think the skills developed like referencing may help me at university, although I'm the first to admit the topic itself has little to do with my career aspirations (I'm going on to study medicine, so there really isn't all that much relevance!). However, since turning 18 I have already become an Explorers leader, and am aiming to help at local groups when I move to university. In this way, the project has helped me more in my life outside of study, more than it has within; I did this project for myself simply because I love scouting.
I've learnt quite a few things doing the project that, whilst perhaps not the most interesting to others, were super interesting for me! These include the results from my surveys, that show that for young people, perception is the greatest reason they see for new members not joining scouting, while adult members saw the primary issue as a lack of volunteers - when you think about it a little deeper, it is likely that these issues are linked; we don't have enough volunteers, because of the perception anyone who could volunteer may have of scouting. It is, in my opinion, likely to be the same issue, seen from differing viewpoints. Also, I found a lot of resources I didn't know where out there, that aim to make scouts more inclusive, such as resources for leaders to help support scouts with autism, and training to ensure that those who are neurodivergent can participate in scouting. Finally, I found out that our motto is different in different countries! While here in the UK, we say 'Be prepared', scouts in Denmark instead say 'Værn og tjen’, meaning ‘Protect and Serve’ - quite a big difference if you ask me!