This years Agora took place from the 10th to the 14th of April in Kandersteg, Switzerland. Agora, meaning a meeting place, It is an annual event, hosted by the European Scout Region which gathers Rovers from all around Europe to come together and discuss all things Rover and much more. It is a unique event as it is run by Rovers for Rovers.
The objectives of Agora vary each year although most are based on the same principles of youth empowerment and youth participation. The theme of this years Agora was ‘Reaching Out’. The main objectives of this years event were to learn about how Rovers works in the participating Scout Associations, what their programme is like and what sort of a role do Rovers play in their association, to gain knowledge and acquire resources that could be useful for Rovers in their own NSA’s, to create a network or past Agorians, to discuss and share experiences of issues relevant to Rovers today, to experience international scouting and finally to feel inspired, motivated, empowered and ready to make Rovers in our own countries the best that they can be.
In total, there were 34 participants from Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom. Among these countries, 14 scout associations were represented. The Rovers were selected by their Scout Associations in various different ways. Some of them were selected as they are on the National Rover team or they are Rover representatives for their area. Quite a few were selected from the groups to attend the national agora and it was there where they were further nominated by the other Rovers of the national agora to attend this European Agora. Other participants were selected because of their experience in scout events, projects that they may have done which looked at youth participation or their experience in Rovers. A handful of participants were selected even though they are not yet Rovers, however they were sent to give them a sense of what is Rovers as they begin their new Rover lives. The event itself required that all participants come from a recognised scout association within Europe, be over 16 and have a good level of english.
The planning team was made up of 4 Rovers from Ireland, the UK and Portugal. All of them are previous participants of Agora. They were a great team and they did a brilliant job.
During the event, as well as it being a jam-packed, fun and varied programme we worked very hard during the 5 days. We discussed Rovering, youth empowerment, Project Management and involvement in decision making. In a practical way we learnt about project management. A “fraternity” or a network of Agorians was created of those who have taken part in Agora. Our minds were opened up as we learnt about how Rovers is in each of the different associations that were represented, for example we learned that in Lithuania, Rovers is something secret that no one really knows anything about and that in Portugal Rovers aren’t leaders whereas in many other countries they are. We shared ideas and opinions and we had great discussions throughout the event, some very topical. We gave ideas to others, we constructed new ones together and we definitely took plenty home with us.
Now you may ask, what came out of Agora, what did we learn as participants? Well let us tell you a few of the most important things that came out of it. After experiencing Agora, we were able to come home with great resources for Rovers in our own countries, resources to make Rovers better in our own countries and resources that will be very useful in our day-to-day lives as Roves. We came to common conclusions on involvement in decision making. We think that Rovers are not included enough and that there are better and more democratic ways of coming to decisions, not only at a lower level but us in cooperation with our associations. We strongly believe that if we should “bring” our experience to our Scout associations, it’s not enough to only write a report or some small project afterwards, we should be given more of an opportunity to share what we have learnt from Agora and spread the word.
We look forward to next years Agora.
Zack - The Scout Association of Malta
Pau - Federació Catalana d’Escoltisme i Guiatge
Morgan - Les Scouts et Guides de France
André - Corpo Nacional de Escutas
Sigurgeir - The Icelandic Boy and Girl Scout Association
Ioana - Cercetasii Romaniei
Maija - The Scouts and Guides of Finland
Jesús - La Federación de Asociaciones de Scouts de España
Marc - Les Scouts et Guides de France
You may download Agora 2013 Report here