The Scout Network, is a section of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom for 18 to 25 year olds, introduced in 2001 and, along with the Explorer Scout section, replaced the Venture Scouts (which was for 15.5 to 20 year olds). Network was originally the responsibility of Counties/Area, but following a rather poor take-up of the scheme, it was relaunched with a shift in emphasis & responsibility, allowing for smaller units to be established around scouting districts.
History and organisation
Following the review of UK Scouting in 2001, the Scout Network section was introduced as one of two new sections (the other one being Explorer Scouts) to replace Venture Scouts, the previous senior section.
There were a number of significant differences however, between the organisation of the old Venture Scout Units and the new Scout Networks.
Firstly, the age range was altered to cater for those young people aged 18 to 25 years. The Explorer Scout section was introduced to fit between the Scout Section and Scout Network, thus providing continuity. Secondly, the responsibility for administration of the Scout Network, was now to rest at County or Area level, whereas previously the Venture Scout Units were attached to local Scout Groups within a district. Finally, the section was to be led from within; the membership would provide the leadership necessary, under the guidance of an appointed County Scout Network Commissioner.
There would, essentially, be a single Scout Network for the entire County - which was perhaps one of the contributing factors in the lack of initial success suffered by the new section. To begin with, almost all Counties had little or no membership in the section. Many of the old Venture Scout units converted to Explorer Scout units - leaving perhaps just one or two older people without a Network. However, some Counties took the lead and introduced a unit-based system (mostly based around old Venture Scout Units) coordinated by County.
The slow start was eventually recognised by the Scout Association and the Network review was launched in 2006. This concluded that a more structured leadership needed to be in place within the Counties. The County Scout Network Commissioner can now be supported by a number of County Scout Network Advisors. Their responsibilities are mutually agreed and are largely either role-based or geography-based. Each County, therefore, can now officially have multiple Local Networks which are independent but also participate in County-wide activities. Local Networks are placed where needed, and can cover a District, part of a District, or even a number of Districts. Usually, these have an appointed Network Leader.
The 2006 review introduced the option for a District to hold responsibility for a Scout Network, though this change must be agreed by the District Commissioner, County/Area Commissioner and County Scout Network Commissioner.
So the review marked a return to the unit-based system that seemed to work well in the various Counties that had already "unofficially" introduced the system. Following the review, the section has improved enormously and in many areas is growing quickly.
Scout Networks across the UK
A member of a Network can - and usually does - have a role as an Adult Leader, often in the Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts or Explorer Scouts (or a District/County Appointment). This is not compulsory however and members who wish to do so can just go to Network meetings/events and take no other role in scouting.
Members also have the possibilities of working towards both their Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the Association's progressive award scheme, culminating in the Queen's Scout Award.
Some Universities have a Student Scout and Guide Organisation (SSAGO) group attached to them, which members can join. Whilst this in it's self is not a network unit, and is governed under different rules, it caters for the same age group providing the same style of programme and performing a similar function.
There are several awards available in the Network Scout Section, and these badges are almost the same as the ones that are available in the Explorer Scout Section.
- The Network Scout Moving On Award
- The Network Scout Membership Award
- The Chief Scout's Diamond Award
- The Queen's Scout Award
- The Explorer Belt
In addition, many members working towards their Chief Scout's and Queen's Scout Awards also work towards the Duke of Edinburgh scheme of awards in parallel, as there are many similarities.
Events and activities
Networks are, for the most part, run by their members. This means that they are very flexible and able to do most activities - as long as they stay within the rules of the Scout Association (Policy, Organisation and Rules). Individual Network programmes vary enormously, but a typical one might include weekly, bi-weekly or monthly evening events, along with several camps or other weekends away throughout the year.
There are many camps that Network members are able to attend, and each Network member is not restricted to their own Area or County. As a general rule if there is an event you want to take part in you are more than welcome to notify the responsible Area/County and go along. These can range from the London Monopoly Run to "Evo" - a network camp in Hampshire. By far the biggest of these events, is the National Network Gathering, held around Easter of each year at Great Tower Scout Campsite. These types of events tend to include evening discos and parties, live music, and many different adventurous activities. Expeditions also figure as part of the residential programme, often tied into one of the award schemes, but not exclusively so - some events are run with an expedition format.
Examples of network units within the uk:
- HARP Network - Greater Manchester
- Derbyshire Scout Network
- Quest Network - Derbyshire
- Lynx Scout Network, Derby
- Genus Scout Network, Belper District, Derbyshire
- Starchaser Network, Denton District, Greater Manchester East
- Coventry Scout Network
- Woodseats Scouts (WVU), Sheffield
National Network Pages: