The Award is not just another youth organisation, there is no uniform, no stirring anthem. And no, it is not going to strain your already stretched time schedule! It is simply a satisfying use of leisure time to acquire new skills, experience adventure and make new friends, young and old.
The Philosophy is neither very profound nor very complicated. It is simply this: “a civilised society depends upon the freedom, responsibility, intelligence and standard of behaviour of its individual members, and if the society is to continue to be civilised, each succeeding generation must learn to value those qualities and standards… Above all, if depends on a willingness among the younger generation to find out for themselves the factors, which contribute to freedom, responsibility, intelligence and standard of behaviour”. These are abstract concepts, so the Award has attempted to bring them down to earth; to give individual young people the opportunity to discover these ideas for themselves through a graduated programme of experience.
The Award is non-competitive and anyone with perseverance and enterprise, including the disabled, can earn an Award. Young people choose activities that are appropriate to their environment and best suited to their own personal interests and talents. For adults, the Programme provides an opportunity to help by sharing their individual skills and experience with young people.
Today, leisure is often seen as a ‘spectator’ time; sitting unthinking in front of a TV screen, or playing games on a phone. The Award addresses unplanned leisure time, to be used in exciting ways. It addresses holistic development and growth. It is emphatically not a children’s programme. The Founders were very clear that this is a programme for young people. It promised no material gain, but adds a ‘quality’ that is discernable to all. The 4 Sections, which appear so simple, are carefully thought out: they add value and challenge the body, spirit, and mind.
The factor that proved wonderfully inspiring and immeasurably valuable was the inclusion of adult volunteers. Never before had there been so many older people reaching out and sharing expertise, in bee keeping or astronomy, woodwork, basketry and railways, thus building bridges between the generations. Young people were being given the opportunity to interact with adults who were neither parents nor teachers. Today, no one can say how many adults, worldwide, are involved in the scheme, but hundreds of thousands would be a modest estimate.
“The Award Programme is intended to help both the young and those people who take an interest in their welfare. It is designed as an introduction to leisure time activities, a challenge to the individual to personal achievement, and as a guide to those people and organisations who are concerned about our future citizens.”