YOUNG LEADER: Chinchilla Scouts member Katie Fitzgerald attended the Branch Youth Council in Brisbane on March 8-10.
YOUNG LEADER: Chinchilla Scouts member Katie Fitzgerald attended the Branch Youth Council in Brisbane on March 8-10. Brooke Duncan

Katie takes a seat at the Youth Council table

IT'S not every day a 14-year-old country girl gets to have a say on a new program from a national institution. But earlier this month Katie Fitzgerald did just that.

Two weeks ago Katie took a weekend trip to Brisbane to take up her position as a member of the Scouts Branch Youth Council.

After undergoing a rigorous selection process, the invitation meant Katie had a seat at the table when the council met with Scouts Region Commissioners to discuss a new plan, set to roll out across the country during the next two years.

"We had several meetings... and we just talked about what we wanted to see into our scouting program and the new OAS program, which is Outdoor Adventure Skills, which is our new badge work,” Katie said.

"As the Chief Commissioner said to us in the meeting, there's not enough youth involved, and they found out that with the youth and leaders working separate from each other and the adults guessing what the youth want, it's very difficult.

"So with the youth council from all the different regions talking, helping the branch, they're able to actually understand what we would like from the Scouts.”

For Katie, an important talking point was making sure the new badge work was accessible for regional groups.

"Since we're in Chinchilla badge work for us is hard to do, for example, our swimming badge, for us to do level two adventurers, you have to do a snorkelling expedition. For us to do that we have to pay $2000 plus travelling to the Gold Coast to do it, just for one badge we have to do again next year.”

For the next two years Katie will have regular phone or Skype meetings with the council to track their progress. She's also responsible for visiting every group in the Darling Downs over the coming months to explain the new program and help groups prepare for the transition.

Katie's mum and Scout leader, Leanne Fitzgerald, said she was very proud.

"She surprised me, I thought she'd be really out of her depth but I had a couple of text messages from people down there, and videos, showing me things that she was doing and how she actually stood up and did a presentation on a subject in front of a large group of people,” she said.