Special Interest Areas
Special Interest Areas encourage young people to try new things and pursue their existing interests. Scouts set their own goals, enabling them to design a project that interests and challenges them personally. The six areas are broad, encouraging Scouts to pursue a diversity of interests and to ensure any activity a Scout could possibly think of can be covered. Individuals setting their own goals ensures that the Special Interest Areas remain modern and relevant in a changing world, and can be tailored to be inclusive to all.
The challenges within Special Interest Areas are set by Scouts using Plan>Do>Review>, usually all within a set time frame. When proposing a Special Interest Area project, Scouts set their own goals. They will need to take into account their existing level of knowledge, what they are interested in pursuing or learning about, if they have Subject Matter Experts available to assist them, and what skills they will need to develop to achieve their goals. The Plan> will cover how they will develop their new skills, what things they may need to plan (logistics, building an item etc.). The Do> will be where they develop their new skills or carry out the main body of project, and in the Review> they will consider what they learnt and how it could be improved upon next time. Please refer to the Special Interest Area planning templates, adult support guide, The Scouts Australia Handbook and Scouts | Terrain for support to plan Special Interest Areas.
What are the six areas of Special Interest?
Anything worth doing is hard. This Special Interest Area is all about adrenaline, and also offers the opportunity of expanding the areas of physical personal prowess in ways that are not covered by the Outdoor Adventure Skills. There are many adventures available – as many as Scouts can think of! A Scout could go on a single journey, say 4WDing through the high country, or build up time over weeks or months such as learning to fly a light aircraft. There is the opportunity of learning new skills in sports, such as basketball or javelin, or to try out totally new activities like hang-gliding or hot-air ballooning. Does a Scout want to learn how to swim a new stroke, run a new distance, kick a goal from the 50m line, or follow in the footsteps of their ancestors? This is their opportunity!
The Arts and Literature Special Interest Area is all about expressing oneself, being imaginative, and pushing creative boundaries. There is a very wide range of areas that can be explored through this Special Interest Area – performing visual and creative arts, learning to appreciate art and different mediums, bringing a favourite imaginary hero to life, and putting on a mask to dramatize a play. What about creating a short film, learning new photography techniques, constructing prose, or designing an outfit? Respectful exploration and learning about another culture’s art forms, trying out different roles in the creative process – being the director or joining the dance team, making music, and many, many more.
This Special Interest Area focuses on the natural environment and actions that Scouts can take to protect, enhance or learn more about it. It could be citizen science projects, understanding waste and recycling, learning about the water cycle, planting trees, taking action on climate change, restoring ecosystems, preparing for environmental hazards and disasters, or conducting experiments to see how natural processes work. Some projects can also be done in conjunction with the World Scout Environment Badge, and in some cases Scouts of the World Award, UN Sustainable Development Goals and Messengers of Peace.
This Special Interest Area is all about following the fundamentals of Scouting and the Scout Law in an effort to contribute to the world in a positive way. The purpose of this Special Interest Area is to contribute something to your local community that will help to make it a better and more positive place for all. Clean Up Australia Day, donating blood, learning AUSLAN, community development projects, projects to help disadvantaged people, engaging with the local community and contributing to them. These projects often involve other community members or groups, and can be done in conjunction with some of the additional badges such as World Scout Environment Badge or the Scouts of the World Award. Additionally this Special Interest Area leads itself to Project action within the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Special Interest Area of Growth and Development is about cultivating oneself as a person, understanding others, and evolving in new skill areas. The purpose of Growth & Development is to challenge a specific area of your skills, and to really give something a go! You should set a goal of personal growth for some aspect of your life, and strive towards reaching this goal. Along the way, you might end up a stronger runner, or a good postmodern artist, or able to speak in public a lot better. No matter the challenge you set for this project for yourself, you will have developed and grown as a person.
The Special Interest Area of STEM and Innovation has the purpose of developing the powerful questioning, curious, scientific mind that young people often have. This Special Interest Area is all about exploring your inner scientist, and answering questions you have always pondered. What happens when you mix mentos’ and coke? What is the best way to build a paper plane wing? How can you build a mouse trap car that travels 20 meters… or more! Come up with a question, or challenge yourself in any area of science, experimentation and innovation and then test it through your project or challenge. The sky is the limit here!