Adventure and development groups

Scouting-type groups are so much more exciting then they were when we were kids. Tiffany Brown rounds up a number of adventure groups your children will love to join.

Girl Peace Scouts NZ

In 1908, when their daughter Muriel pointed out there was no special Scouting organisation just for girls, David and Selina Cossgrove developed the Girl Peace Scout movement in New Zealand. In 1909 the pair published Peace Scouting for Girls, a Girl Scout handbook that came to be used worldwide. By 1912 there were over 2,000 Girl Peace Scouts in the country. As war broke out, Girl Peace Scout groups could be found rolling bandages for hospital ships and putting on flower days and concerts to raise funds for injured soldiers. In the early 1920s, the group merged with Girl Guiding NZ.

Girl Guiding NZ

Girl Guiding NZ is currently New Zealand’s largest girls-only organisation, offering girls and young women a wide range of activities and adventures. With a focus on participation and fun, girls of all ages can develop confidence and life skills, with a choice of challenging activities with an emphasis on the outdoors. Community involvement and all-round achievement by working towards merit badges is encouraged. Girl Guiding Groups include Pippins for girls aged 5 and 6, Brownies for those aged 7 to 9½, Guides from 9½ to 12½, and Rangers for girls aged 12½ to 17. Girl Guiding NZ also runs a unique programme called Aotearoa, a more self-directed programme designed for girls who can’t join a local Guiding group for various reasons. These Guides work through the programme with the help of posted resources, emails, internet and social media.

SCOUTS New Zealand

Fun, challenges, and adventure are all part of the prescription when your child becomes part of a Scout group, working as part of a team and developing friendships and skills along the way. The Scout Law is based on a contemporary values model: Have Respect, Do What Is Right, and Be Positive. Popular here for over a century, Scout groups cater for both girls and boys of all age groups and involve over 15,000 Kiwis aged from 5 to 26, along with around 5,000 volunteers. Learning diverse life skills through activities designed to support physical, mental, and spiritual development, young people learn to play constructive roles in society with a strong focus on outdoors and survival skills. The Northern Irish adventurer and TV star Bear Grylls is perhaps the most famous Scout in the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he became the youngest person ever to be appointed to the position of Chief Scout in the UK at the age of 35. “Every child has the right to an adventure” says Grylls. “Life is about grabbing opportunities. The prizes don’t always go to the biggest, the best and the strongest – they go to those who persevere. These are simple life lessons that Scouting teaches.” Scouts empowers youth through adventurous experiences to lead lives that make a positive difference. Scouts groups include Keas for children aged 5 to 8, Cubs for ages 8 to 11, Scouts from 11 to 14, and Venturers from the ages of 14 to 18.

SCOUTS New Zealand National Schools

Run during the school holidays, SCOUTS New Zealand offer seven national schools for focused instruction in various disciplines including aviation, canoeing, caving, flying, mountaineering, photography and snow school. These schools are open to children of Scouts and Venturers (age 11 to 18), and allow the building of lifelong friendships while providing an intensified experience in their pursuit of choice. National schools are also open to non-Scout participants, although priority is given to those already involved in Scouting.

Sea Scouts

There are around 900 participants in 53 troops of the Sea Scouts branch of SCOUTS New Zealand. Sea Scouts groups use our country’s unique maritime environment to provide a range of water-based activities in line with the Scouting ethos. Sea Scouts also provides opportunities for various land-based activities like tramping and camping, resulting in a full, fun programme with varied experiences. A progressive badge scheme is also in place, as are local and national regattas and relationships with local maritime clubs.

Air Scouts

“Scouting with Altitude” is the motto of Air Scouts, which is another branch of SCOUTS New Zealand. Air Scouts is open to Kea, Cub, Scout, and Venturer Scout participants. Various groups exist in New Zealand and activities include ground- based adventures like visits to airports and air museums, radio-controlled model flight and camping on airfields. Older Scouts may also enjoy sky diving, light aircraft or helicopter flights or hot air balloons. Air Scouts have a different-coloured uniform to regular scouts, and may have additional badges or insignia.

Boys’ Brigade

The Boys’ Brigade (BBNZ) organisation, the oldest international interdenominational uniformed Christian organisation concerned with the positive development of young people, has been working in partnership with churches and ministries in New Zealand for over 100 years. BBNZ offers boys aged 6 to 18 opportunities to develop as constructive, resilient and
innovative young leaders and responsible citizens upon a strong Christian-principled foundation.


Formed out of BBNZ, ICONZ is a newer programme designed to give boys a wide range of action-packed, values-based adventure, and the life skills they need become Kiwi icons. “ICONZ allows boys to be boys. It’s not mamby-pamby or flaky. It is faith, blood, mud, fire, water, speed, smash, and build.”

Girls’ Brigade

An international Christian movement for girls aged 5 to 18, Girls’ Brigade Companies meet weekly for activities, games and devotions. Outings, camps, and adventure sports offer girls opportunities to enjoy challenges, grow friendships, learn new skills and strengthen faith. “Iconz 4 Girlz” is designed as a resource for churches to offer ongoing outreach and development programmes to female youth. Perhaps as a follow-on from Mainly Music programmes, churches can offer Units for girls: IFG Explore for girls aged 5 to 7, IFG Adventure for ages 8 to 10, for IFG Challenge for ages 11 to 13, and IFG Ultimate for girls aged over 14.

Outward Bound

The Outward Bound organisation offers courses designed to help young people learn by taking part in physically challenging adventures in a safe and supportive environment. A device- and technology-free experience in which participants are expected to give everything a try in small groups of a similar age with two or three instructors, the Outward Bound experience can make a huge impact on the lives of teens and young adults.

YMCA Raise Up

Offering before- and after-school care, holiday programmes and holiday camps, YMCA is an organisation committed to strengthening families and youth development. The “Raise Up” movement within the YMCA structure is designed for older children and young adults to create positive change in their communities. Raise Up is offered for 13- to 18-year-olds, and includes events, workshops, activities, youth fitness, and youth volunteering. Running for over 150 years in New Zealand, YMCA’s programmes consider the safety of young people paramount. Their events include a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol, drugs, and smoking, a “No Outs” rule where attendees are not permitted to come and go professionally trained security, trained staff in charge, and police involvement if appropriate.


Through a series of nationwide workshops and programmes, the internationally affiliated YWCA organisation aims to encourage women’s leadership through training and support. YWCA also strives to empower young women with “W”, an online directory of services and opportunities for women, a series of booklets addressing the issues faced by young women, and through advocacy on behalf of women’s participation and citizenship throughout its network of Member Associations. YWCA has been operational in New Zealand since 1878.

The Spirit of Adventure

Believed to be the busiest working youth ship in the world, the Spirit of Adventure three-masted barquentine undertakes a rigorous annual programme of around 340 days at sea, and has been operational since 1986. The flagship 10-day development voyage brings together 40 youngsters aged between 16 and 18. Participants build lifelong friendships and create a deep understanding of themselves and their ability to contribute in an effective team environment during the challenging voyage. Learning to sail a tall ship and acquiring ample maritime knowledge is the icing on the cake of this enriching experience. Spirit of Adventure also offers a 5-day Spirit Trophy schools team challenge, and a special 5-day voyage for physically challenged Kiwis aged 16-20 years.

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