- Future of Canada, United in Scouting
What is this FOCUS thing?
FOCUS is a for-youth-by-youth leadership program aimed towards Venturer Scouts and Rover Scouts. It was first developed by the National Youth Committee in 1997 and presented to a delegation of young people in the Scouting movement from all across Canada at a conference in ‘97. Those youth that participated in the event, were given all the necessary materials to bring it back to their local communities; they helped spread their knowledge throughout the country. That’s what makes FOCUS so special—it’s designed such that any member of our older sections can pick up the trainer’s manual, read it, and feel confident enough to present the material to their peers.
The basic FOCUS program consists of five modules which cover important skills for developing strong leadership ability:
- Module #1—The Leader in You This module encourages participants to look within to identify strengths, as well as potential areas of improvement, and help define individuals’ character.
- Module #2—Effective Communication An essential skill for any effective leader! This module covers the importance of good, two-way communication in all facets of life and provides a wealth of tips for achieving this.
- Module #3—Group Dynamics and Teamwork Participants learn about the different roles people play when contributing towards a team reaching a common goal. This module usually includes lots of experiential learning with tons of fun teamwork games!
- Module #4—Youth Involvement – Explore “youth involvement and how to get more from others. This module encourages participants to get into the habit of making goals for both their personal and scouting lives, and provides ideas and support to help them with goal definition.
- Module #5—Situational Leadership Different groups respond to different styles of leadership. Beaver Scouts don’t like to be barked at, and teenagers don’t like to be coddled! Participants will learn tips on how to analyze the group they are working with and adapt their leadership style accordingly.
The module-based nature of FOCUS provides great flexibility for delivery. It can be run all at once in a fun, themed, camp environment, or it can be run module at a time in the evening at a local Scout hall—whatever works best for your area and group.
There are two resources for FOCUS: the trainer’s manual, and the participant’s manual which acts as a fill-in-the-blanks supplement to the program. The trainer’s manual contains detailed information about each of the topics covered in the syllabus, as well as suggestions of activities to help teach the concepts. By no means do trainers need to stick to the outlined activities; they can use whatever fun, inventive, and creative techniques they can come up with to teach FOCUS skills. A FOCUS event is only as good as the trainers make it. It is well worth the trainers’ time to put the effort into modifying the course to best suit their group’s age range, attention span, time constraints, and geographic needs. (Also see “Other Resources”). Some areas of the country have extensive, required, career and personal development courses offered in high school. If this is the case for your area, you would likely need to tone down some of the paralleled FOCUS topics, or come up with a way to present the ideas in a fresh, new way. The most successful events require minimum sitting and listening and maximum moving and participating. That game we just played taught us about two-way communication? No way!
Just another hoop to jump through?
There are way more benefits to be had from completion of FOCUS then just getting a new badge on your uniform, checking off an award requirement, or satisfying a jamboree prerequisite. Although they might not realize it at the time, the knowledge gained in a weekend FOCUS event will stick with the participants, and they will find those skills pop into action at the most unlikely times. On top of that, FOCUS events can be super fun and provide an opportunity to meet new youth in their area and refresh old friendships.
For the trainers, planning and running a FOCUS event provides a learning opportunity that is difficult to come-by for people our age. It’s one thing to plan a dance through your student council or a bottle drive for your group, but try planning an entire leadership camp for 25 of your peers, covering every detail from food and lodging to training and recognition! I have personally seen youth positively blossom from the early planning to the final stages of completion. Plus, it looks great on a résumé.
So take the challenge: Put on a FOCUS event for the youth of your community today! You’ll see the benefits in both them AND you.