Involving young people in decision-making is a key element for implementing the Mission of Scouting. Through youth involvement, adults support the creation of a safe learning environment, where young people are enabled to become self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.
The Basic Principle Scouting is a Movement of young people, supported by adults; it is not a Movement for young people managed by adults only. Thus, Scouting offers the potential for a learning community of young people and adults, working together in a partnership of enthusiasm and experience.
The World Scout Youth Involvement Policy provides direction to ensure and strengthen youth involvement at all levels of the Scout Movement. It defines adults, young leaders, and the basic principles of youth involvement as follows:
- “Adults, Leaders of Adults, Leaders are mainly volunteers (only in a few cases professional leaders) responsible for supporting/facilitating the development or delivery of the Youth Programme, or supporting other adults, or organisation structures.”
- “Young Leaders are young people who are developing and delivering the Youth Programme to younger age-sections or are involved in supporting other adults or organisational structures. In this case, “leader” is related to the role they play on behalf of the organisation.”
- “Youth Involvement is a capacity-building process, based on enabling young people to actively share responsibility with adults for making decisions that affect their lives, and the lives of others in their community.”
- “Scouting is a Movement of young people, supported by adults; it is not a Movement for young people managed by adults only. Thus, Scouting offers the potential for a learning community of young people and adults, working together in a partnership of enthusiasm and experience (World Scout Youth Involvement Policy, Definitions, page 5, 6).”
Young people have the right to be involved and to have their voices heard in decisions that affect them; this is one of their fundamental rights. In youth-focused organisations such as Scouting, involving young people in decision-making ensures better representation and makes it possible to obtain a young person’s perspective, which is often different from that of an adult. Additionally, young people often think “outside of the box” and are able to contribute with new, fresh, creative ideas.
Youth involvement enables young people to form higher aspirations, strengthen their capacities and even change their attitudes. It can also help them enhance their problem-solving skills, and their ability to argue critically and engage in constructive dialogue with adults, and to create a mutually respectful environment. Additionally, it enables them to take initiative (and responsibility for their actions), while strengthening their confidence and openness.
Youth involvement allows adults to perceive young people as key partners/allies in their communities. It also strengthens their commitment and enhances their energy when witnessing the same devotion in younger generations.