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What’s a Programme Review? And, why does it matter?

What’s a Programme Review? And, why does it matter?

Megan Little asks Richard Scriven about the Programme Review. 

The Review of the ONE Programme has been launched this week. Megan and Richard talk about what is involved, and why you should take part in the online survey. 

You can take the survey here: 

Megan: What’s the programme review all about?

Richard: The idea of Plan, Do, Review is very important. So we should use it for all parts of scouting, not just our activities. The ONE Programme is now six year’s old and it is time to review it. There are several stages involved in the review, it’s like a research project. The first big stage is an online survey which will gather opinions from as many members as possible. There is also a poster survey to help Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts participate. The second main part will be Provincial Consultations which will happen in the autumn. At these people will be able to discuss ideas, share experiences, and offer suggestions to improve the programme.

Megan: Do you feel this review will be a success?

Richard: I believe it CAN be a success. But, that success depends on people taking part. It is up to each member of Scouting Ireland to share their experiences of the ONE Programme so we can all learn. The review is based on valuing how each young person and adult volunteer uses the programme and what they think of it. Also, this review will lead to real change in the programme, once it is supported. David, as the new Chief commissioner (Youth Programme), and the new Youth Programme team are fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the review. If enough people participate it will give them the mandate to bring in the need adjustments and improvements.     

Megan: What are your opinions on the programme, do you feel much needs to be changed?
Richard: Oh, Megan! That’s a loaded question. I’ll give an honest but general answer, as I don’t want to bias the process. I like our programme. It think the fundamentals are excellent. The SPICES have changed the way we do scouting in Ireland; they focus us the main aim of scouting, they make us better scouts. Also, the ONE Programme has given us increased opportunities for young people to take control of their programme, with appropriate adult support, in all of the sections. This is the essence of the Scout Method. And, there is a greater equality among the sections: we now see each section as a part of an overall programme.

Yes, there always need to be changes. This is true of everything in life: there is always room for improvement! The changes to the ONE Programme will depend on the feedback received. From my experiences as Scouter in a Venture Scout section and from being on the Scout Team I am aware of aspects of the programme that I think need changing, but that is only my opinion. Each person has their own experiences, and only by collecting all of these can we fully understand the changes required.     

Megan: Do you feel many people will take the time to fill it out?

Richard: Yes, I am confident they will. The first stage is a simple online survey which only takes a few minutes to fill out. Each youth member and Scouter has invaluable insight into the programme and I believe they will want to share it. Some of it maybe critical, and some of it will be complimentary, and some of it will be unsure. And, that’s all fine. Also, we’ve developed a poster survey to get the opinions of Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts to ensure they add to the process.

Megan: Why should we bother fill it out?

Richard: You should fill it out because you are filling it out for yourself and your Group. It is your programme and it should be the programme you and your Group needs. If you think something is great and we need to keep it, fill out the survey. If you think something is awful and needs to go, fill out the survey. If you think something needs tweaking or is too complicated, fill out the survey. By filling out the survey, you are helping yourself, your group, and scouting.

Richard is a member of the Programme Review Steering Group 

These Ears Were Made For Listening

Get informed about the latest resource available to you and your group on national camps:

The Listening Ear Service – by Mary-Liz McGrath

Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to sit down and listen: Camps can be places where
some of our greatest memories are made, the strongest of friendships are forged, and where
the most valuable of life lessons are learned. Camps can also be draining and stressful
experiences when things don’t go according to plan, when there’s a breakdown in
communication, or when matters outside of our control bring dilemmas of their own.
Whatever the reason, the Listening Ear Service is there to help.
The Listening Ear tent provides a casual drop-in- drop-out counselling service for Scouts of
all ages. The principal objective of the service, according to Mary Fricker, a pioneer of this
new initiative, is to “safeguard young people” attending national events. Eimear Boyd, a
representative from the service, explains “It’s not just for youth members” – “(the tent) is just
somewhere for anyone to come and vent.”. Visitors to the tent are assured of a cup of tea, a
biscuit, and a listening ear (you might even get some sun cream there on a warm day!).
“People can stay as long as they want”, there’s no time limit for visitors. The tent is also open
outside of programme hours, from early in the morning to late at night, so that no one has to
miss programme in order to avail of the service. The team also have mobile members of staff
patrolling the site, identifiable by their Listening Ear ID cards.
Although the service is still in its early trial stages, the initial success of the programme on
events such as the World Scout Jamboree 2015, and most recently, JamÓige 2016, bodes well
for the initiative. The team are hoping that a continued presence at such events will help the
service attain lift-off in the coming years (hopefully in a spectacular fashion akin to
JamÓige’s soaring tent, which, according to on-lookers, interrupted the flight-path of a low-
flying plane).
We wish the Listening Ear Service the best of luck in their endeavours and encourage all
members of Scouting Ireland to drop by on upcoming national events.

  • Mary-Liz McGrath

An Ode To Youth Workers by Kerry Trevaskis Hoskin

I’ve been in scouting since I was five years old. I feel extremely lucky to have spent almost my entire life as a scout , with both my parents being involved in the organisation. I believe scouting has shaped me into the person I am today, I’m 15 and some sort of socialist, punk, self-proclaimed bolloxologist. In my short life I’ve learned from writers such as Marx, Orwell, Socrates, and various other institutes and ideas. However the most important things in life I will ever learn about are peace and love. As hippy dippy and generic as it may sound, I truly believe these 2 forces have the power to change the world. I’ve learnt that from scouting, and above all, our youth workers and volunteers who take time out of their lives and dedicate it to us.

Enda Kenny couldn’t change the world and Fine Gael couldn’t even try but in my short existence in this world I’ve known youth workers to save lives with cups of tea and tight hugs. I’ve seen them effortlessly put others needs above their own, working tirelessly, day and night, in the pursuit of change. I remember my first serious relationship when I was around 13 or 14 and getting in a fight with my then girlfriend, my scout leaders eyes led me like I knew where to go and held me like they’d always be with me. I remember my mothers funeral in the scout hall and how I was embraced in warm hugs by scouters instead of cold handshakes from distant cousins. I knew then what family was to me, a necko and a familiar face, a campfire could explain my life better than a photo album ever could. I remember after a hard day at school of indifferent shrugs and shakes from fellow peers who didn’t even wanna look up to speak to me. I went down to ventures and the only thing waiting for me there was love and acceptance. It is these moments that save young people from suicide and depression. It is these moments, these people that have made me who I am. It is these scouters who try so hard to accept and love each scout as a valuable, important individual, which isn’t always easy. That is the reason I believe in love above all else as well as scouting, in which many senses is the same thing.

Yes there is flaws in scouters, everyone has their flaws, nobody’s perfect. However you youth workers and volunteers are perfect people in the eyes of thousands of young people. You guys are pillars in the community, a shoulder to cry on, life savers, tea makers, head shakers and heroes. You may be there for just one hour a week, you may think you are just a scout leader or a youth worker, but you are the reason Scouting Ireland exists, the only reason its here for all of us to enjoy. You, in my eyes, are changing the world. I hope one day, I will be strong enough to do the same. Thanks lads for showing me beyond reason who I really am.

Kerry Trevaskis Hoskin,

9th Wicklow Arklow

Laura O’Connor On Promising, Speech Making and Constitution Bending

As I write this on a dreary Monday in the middle of November, I am trying to withhold my jubilation from some Very Big News that I have received. The motion that was passed by National Council on the 12th September 2015 – to add a third, secular Scout Promise to our Constitution – has been approved by the Constitutions Committee of the World Organisation of the Scouting Movement. In layman’s terms, scouting’s United Nations have rubber stamped our application to let atheists into the movement here in Ireland.


It’s a time of celebration, to be sure, and the end of a year-long road for yours truly. You see, I’ve been involved in trying to raise this issue from the beginning. Plotting and planning with my good friend Richard, together we set up a Facebook page to generate some solidarity. Hours of phone conversations were exchanged with Sean Donlan, a Law lecturer in UL, who generated a pretty comprehensive document containing suggestions to send to the National Management Committee, on all three of our behalves. After that document was sent in, I worked in the background, ensuring that the notion of a secular Promise was at least breached at all three National Youth Fora – one of the few bodies that can submit Motions to a National Council. I wrote blog posts about it, ranted about it, and tried my damn best to make sure everyone was aware of it.

When the motion from the Venture Forum came forward regarding a secular Promise, I openly questioned Chief Scout candidates, spoke at National Council, and messaged countless young people in order to encourage them to speak with me, to stand up and make their voices count.

After the Promise Variation Review Committee was formed, I took a seat on it, and became its secretary. I met the National Management Committee, spoke to many, many people, and finally saw it pass through National Council for a second time.


When I write it all down like that, it’s clear to see why people started referring to the motion as “my” motion coming towards the end. I really did pour my heart into it – to the extent that I cried both times the votes came through in our favour. If it didn’t pass, I genuinely don’t know what I would have done with myself. At the very least, I would have left scouting. It would have broken my heart into pieces.


The most frequent question I get asked about it these days is, in one word, “Why?” And being honest, I sometimes forget the answer to that myself. Oftentimes when you’re involved in campaigns like these, you lose sight of the reasons behind starting it all in the first place, and question why you bother at all. But then, I walk into my own scout hall and see why.

I see the kids who think the current two Promises were a load of tripe; I see the kids who are frustrated at the Catholic Boy Scout mentality that so many people in this organisation still maintain. I see the parents who are afraid that their children are being exposed to a strictly religious organisation, and I see secular leaders themselves, afraid to say that they want change. Just seeing that, I know that by campaigning for a secular Promise, I did the right thing.


Sure, I could have been told sit down, to stop talking, that I’m only a 19 year old atheist who doesn’t know what she’s shouting about. I could have taken that. At the absolute worst, I could have been told to leave scouting. I could have taken that, too. All I know is that by putting myself out there, and by being successful, I have made my own and many other people’s scouting experience a little bit better. And that’s more than enough for me.

It’s been a long and harsh road, friends, I’m not going to lie. Am I proud of myself? Quite frankly, I’m not sure if I deserve to feel pride. Has it been worth the hassle? Almost definitely; I can now wear a neckerchief and know that I have a right to wear it, just like anyone else, and know that I’ve helped to guarantee that right for many others up and down the country.

When all is said and done, though, one thing is for certain; I am keeping well away from politics in scouting for a long time. That, I can promise you.


Laura O’Connor,

43rd Cork

“Youth Empowerment” or Free Choice? Rory Nevin in Conversation with Richard Scriven

Rory: Hey Richard my group just started a Venture Crew! There’s only 2 of us but we’ve already planned so much on our own

Richard: That’s cool! How is it going? Do you feel like with just two of you, you have greater control over what you do?

Rory: Definitely…we’re really able to focus on which special interest badges we want to do or where we want to go camping. Since we’re both new (even our scouter has never had ventures before!) there’s no one to dictate how we should do something. If we make mistakes we just keep them in mind for next time

Richard: That sounds ideal (apart from there being just two of you!)! So the Scouter is on-board with the looser have-a-go approach?

Rory: I don’t know if he’s ever said those exact words, but we know him enough to know that he probably is on board. He also gives us so much freedom with our programme. If we want to climb Carrauntoohil in winter he’ll find us a guide. If we want to go go-karting he’ll help us to find the cheapest price.

Richard: Looks like you’ve got the whole Youth Empowerment thing down, Rory!

Rory: I guess I never really thought about that…it just seemed normal that we should be allowed and encouraged to make those kinda decisions?

Richard: Well yes! You are right! I actually don’t like the term ‘Youth Empowerment’! I think it puts the emphasis on the youth members, when youth empowerment is actually about the adults! Like, the young people I work with in my own group and meeting across Scouting Ireland are amazing. They have ideas, skills, and capabilities; sure they need some support and encouragement occasionally but not empowering.

Rory: Also the words Youth Empowerment make it seem more ‘national’. I don’t really care about all that stuff but Youth Empowerment just seems to be a buzz word that people throw around.

Richard: It totally is! When people think about it, it seems to be in reference to National Youth Reps and National Council. But, youth empowerment is about Log Chews, Patrol Leaders’ Councils, and Venture Scouts deciding on and running their own programme, being supported by Scouters. If we get that right we will not only have better scouting, we’ll have a better association!

Rory: Exactly! Youth Empowerment is a complicated way of saying “free choice” I think anyway. It could be what night of the week we meet, if we meet at all! Or it could be the difference between penne pasta and spaghetti on camp….it could even be deciding the rules for scout dodgeball.

Richard: Do you throw balls of sisal in scout dodgeball?

Rory: I think it’s generally whatevers left over after camp…as long as it’s not an axe.

Richard: I like the ‘Free Choice’ definition! I might use that. Also, it shows how Youth Empowerment is actually about Scouters allowing and helping the youth member make those free choices.

Rory: That’s just what I think anyway.

Richard: It reminds those of us who are scouters that we’re there to support these choices, we do not ’empower’ anyone! No, I really like it!

Rory: Also empowering makes it seem like we’re performing brain surgery or splitting the atom.

Richard: A little bit easier than that, but removing some of the barriers that our association and scouters can place is a challenge! Unfortunately, we can be disempowering!,

Rory: Haha I suppose so! And I think most of the time some leaders don’t even realise what they’re doing. And some leaders can be over empowering if you get me. I’ve met quite a few leaders that want to do so much that sometimes youth members are just quiet and go along with their plans which is what we want to stop.

Richard: lol! I know that you mean. Allowing the space for free choice is a balance. And, of course most scouters mean well, but it think it is something we need to be aware of! Like, I need to be aware of it myself in my Venture Unit. I’m always trying to balance their ideas with certain realities. Such as school, exams, parents, costs, etc.

Rory: Exactly. It’s about compromise as well.

Richard: One might almost say it’s about young people and adults working together! #scoutmethod (I love the Scout Method).

Rory: Aw I love linking things into it.

Eithne Walsh // “Listen”

There’s so much more to being a scout,

Than knots and badges and walking about,

Sure there’s camping and chanting and building spar gates,

But it makes it much more special when you do it with mates.

The scouts are like your family, you feel like you belong,

Especially around a campfire as they start to sing a song,

You toast some marshmallows and make some smores,

Then you cant get to sleep because everyone snores.

There’s midnight feasts and you roam the woods,

All those special memories from our childhoods,

But something has changed over the years,

As its no longer the adult who domineers.

The youth of scouting Ireland are spreading the word,

That the youth of scouting Ireland has a right to be heard,

They’re talking about the challenges that they’ve overcome,

And some about the challenges they haven’t yet won.

So its time to listen, and to listen well,

To the story the youth are trying to tell.

Eithne Walsh, 

5/22nd Killaloe