It is important that your goals are challenging for you so you should consider your own skills, experience and interests when setting goals. A Special Interest Area project is about your own personal progression so your goals will probably be very different to another Scouts even if they are doing a similar activity.
If you need specific help or knowledge to complete your Special Interest Area project, reach out to someone in your network who might be able to support you. Unit Councils can also help you identify this person/people.
A subject matter expert could be anyone with knowledge or expertise in your area of interest including:
A fellow Scout
Scouts in Section above (or below!)
A member of the community
Teacher or tutor
or anyone else you can think of!
If there is no one in your immediate network to assist you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to help you find a subject matter expert for your project.
At the conclusion of a Special Interest Area project you should take the opportunity to Review> your progress against the goals you set at the commencement of the task. You should also consider how the project has helped you develop in each of the SPICES.
You might feel that you did not achieve your goals or reach your personal best. You might realise that your goals were not challenging enough, or too challenging for your current abilities. That's okay! Reflecting on these things will help you to set better goals next time you do a Special Interest Area.
The tools you used for your project planning and goal setting will also assist you with the Review process.
Make sure you share your project with your Patrol or Unit and celebrate your successes.
If a Scout doesn't achieve their Special Interest Area project goal, this doesn’t mean they can’t be recognised for their achievements. This is where the Review> phase is extra important.
If a genuine learning experience has still occurred, there should be no qualms about recognising personal progression with the awarding of the Special Interest Areas badge. The Unit Council should consider this carefully.
There is nuance here – it possible but it is not the intent of Special Interest Areas.
Special Interest Areas are not designed to be a whole unit activity, they are more specific to each individual and are driven by a specific interest.
Your weekly program (where Participates, Assists & Leads are earned) is designed for the whole Unit, and is created by youth members using the Challenge Areas.
Special Interest Areas are about: -
Individual personal development and growth
Individual interests and pursuits
Participates, Assists and Leads (weekly Unit program)
Develop leadership skills
Drive diverse unit program
Further to this, Outdoor Adventure Skills is the development of the technical skill. An Outdoor Adventure Skill may be acquired as part of an Special Interest Area project but the project will need to include more than just attaining an appropriate level of Outdoor Adventure Skill in a particular area.
You can start planning and setting goals for your next Special Interest Area project any time but remember to get your Unit Council to Review> your project before you progress from the Plan> stage to the Do> stage.
In general, yes it can count as part of the overall contribution to the Special Interest Area project for all Sections.
That considered, think more about the effort being invested rather than the hours contributed. For some projects, an individual might contribute less than the specified amount, and others much more. The Unit Council should feel comfortable in making that assessment.
Not all youth members will pursue Special Interest Area projects but we'd love it if they did!
Those that do won't all have projects for approval all at the same time. It's also important for Unit Councils to meet often to ensure backlogs of Special Interest Area project proposals develop. This doesn't always need to be a formal meeting - the proposal could be pitched to a few members of the Unit Council at the start or end of the regular Unit activity or discussed over email or chat during the week!
If our Scouts are happy and engaged in weekly program underpinned by the challenge areas and SPICES, undertaking Milestones and Participates, Assists and Leads, we are happy if they are happy!
Scouts can wear any Special Interest Area badges they achieve. Whether that is more than one badge from more than one category (eg. If they complete to separate STEM and Innovation projects, they can wear two STEM and Innovation badges) or they have completed a Special Interest Area project in each of the six categories.
Remember: there is no requirement to complete a project in each of the six Special Interest Area categories.
There are no plans for hard copy resources at this point however there are planning tools and other resources here and here. There is a separate Outdoor Adventure Skills book due to all the requirements, and the fact that the Outdoor Adventure Skills are not Section specific.
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