The world of 1908 was one of gas lights and horse-drawn trams. Women couldn’t vote, electricity was a novelty and trains were the fastest way to travel, if you could afford it. In over a century, our lives have changed immeasurably, and yet a movement founded in 1908 has stood the test of time. The world may have transformed around it, but the Scout Association remains as important and influential as ever.
Founded at the turn of the 20th century by Robert Baden-Powell, the Scout Association has now entered a renaissance of popularity as an extra-curricular activity for the young. It currently works with more than 460,000 young people aged 6-25 in the UK, helping them ‘enjoy fun and adventure while developing the skills they need to succeed, now and in the future’.
The Scouts’ focus on self-improvement and life skills has always been a crucial part of the movement, yet it presents a challenge. While some skills are perennially useful, the world in which we apply them is changing fast. The Scouts’ success has been its agility and evolution, keeping pace with the changing needs and interests of young people. Its very survival bears testament to its ability to pivot the organisation around what young people need and want for the changing world they live in.
And there has been no greater change in recent times than the rise of digital technology. For young people coming of age, the online world presents both great possibilities and risks. It is paramount that we are equipping them with the skills they need to navigate the digital world safely and maximise their experience online to allow them to achieve their full potential in the future.
Supporting young people is something we take seriously at Nominet. As a profit for purpose company, we see helping the next generation prepare for the challenges ahead of them as crucial – they are the leaders, workers, parents and teachers of the future. We have an ambition to improve the lives of one million young people each year by 2020, and we are already well on the way to achieving this through a combination of our own projects, such as digital skills training with Nominet Digital Neighbourhood, and via partnerships with other organisations. For example, we currently work with the Samaritans and the Prince’s Trust, enhancing their reach and capabilities with our funding and technological guidance and expertise.
It is with great pride and excitement that we can now add a partnership with the Scouts to this list. Nominet is sponsoring the new and improved Nominet Digital Citizenship Scouts badge. We are working with the Scouts to re-boot the programme behind it to ensure those working towards achieving the badge are experiencing a robust and thorough grounding in how to use digital technology safely, responsibly and ethically.
Good digital citizenship is becoming vital for our young people as the infiltration of technology in their lives becomes ever greater. We need to give them the skills to thrive within the digital future we are building for them, able to manage and master the devices we designed. This new and improved Nominet Digital Citizenship Scouts badge is an important step in the right direction, and Nominet is looking forward to being part of the journey.
While the world around us is one which Baden-Powell would struggle to recognise were he alive today, he would approve of the focus that the Scout Association has retained. He founded the movement by publishing a book of ‘instruction in good citizenship’. One hundred and eleven years later, the Scouts continue his tradition, albeit for a digital world, and at Nominet we are very happy to help.