Important reminder about Outdoor Activities

Important reminder about Outdoor Activities


Quick links

May 2022 Update:

Now that we are coming into warmer weather, thoughts turn to outdoor activities within scouting. So it’s a good time to remind ourselves that adventurous activities require prior to sign off by your DC (or delegate) and a written risk assessment. 

Many activities will require the Leader to have a permit so you should check this out whilst planning your activity. 

Activities on the water including swimming or the use of any equipment including inflatables should be considered carefully. If the activity is taking place on anything other than class C waters <…/general…/class-c-waters/> then a permit will be required. 

Permits are also required for activities in terrain other than terrain 0 (T0) – <…/terrain-zero-activities/

Any questions please ask Bruce or one of the assessors or if you would like to be considered for a permit. You will be covered under Scout insurance if you follow the rules and you will have the support of the Scouts in the event of a claim, however, this is unlikely to apply if you have not followed the rules.

Thank you for your support.

Keep on Scouting – Safety Requirements and Programme Ideas

Keep on Scouting – Safety Requirements and Programme Ideas

Some key reminders to enable you to Keep on Scouting safely:

  1. Tier Status

This table provides information about the do’s and don’ts Scouting guidelines for each Tier as well as a link to the Scottish Government Postcode Checker to determine which Tier your Group or Section falls into

2. Risk Assessments

There is a requirement to undertake risk assessments for re-starting Scouting under Covid conditions as well as for general activities, which become mandatory from January 2021. This link provides some guidance and additional links to other helpful information. In addition, our Regional Assessors have put togethers some useful tools to help you create Risk Assessments for adventurous activities which can be found here.

3. Activity Planning

Whether you are Scouting virtually or meeting face to face either outdoors, or indoors, there are lots of Programme Activity ideas available via these links:

Scout Activity Planner 

Additional Programme Activity Ideas

Press-play-and-go – videos, guidance, tips and tricks to help you run Scouts online 

Mike Treanor
Scouting Support Officer 

Risk Assessment Guidance

We have been asked to provide a reminder of the requirements for undertaking Risk Assessments, both as part of restarting scouting and also as part of general Scouting activities.

  1. General Activities

A reminder that the changes to how we approach Risk Assessments, launched on 18 August 2020, are currently in the transition period through to 1 January 2021.

You’ll find helpful resources on the risk assessment pages of the website, including guidance documents, FAQs, template risk assessment forms and a bank of examples risk assessments.

There’s always been a requirement to undertake risk assessments for all activities within the Scouts, whether in your normal meeting place, on nights away or out on adventurous activities with the encouragement to document them. These changes now require the documenting of the risk assessment. To help with this change we’ve provided lots of methods you can use.

The guidance also reinforces the need to communicate the hazards, risks and control measures to those involved, including young people. In doing this effectively it will help others to develop the ability to identify and manage risk, building another vital skill for life. Remember too that repetitive elements, e.g. your opening and closing ceremonies only need to be written once and dynamically checked in subsequent weeks, or reviewed if you meet in a different place, e.g. in a park on a summer evening.

The normal risk assessments for activities do not require the approval of someone from your District or the Region (with the exception of Nights Away activities and Visits Abroad). It’s about the leadership team working together to undertake, document, communicate and review their risk assessments. Making sure that in doing so we are providing Scouts in as safe a way as possible to, and with, all our members.

2. Restarting Scouting 

It’s also important to remind you this is separate from the restart approval process, which requires a documented risk assessment to be submitted for approval ahead of moving between readiness levels in the restart of face-to-face scouting.

There are lots of really helpful resources available here including:

  • Videos on the approval process and how to write risk assessments
  • Risk Assessment Templates and Examples
  • Checklists for risk assessment submitters and approvers –these are very helpful in keeping you right in terms of what needs to be included and the level of detail

This link provides details of the Requestor approval process.

To date, nearly half of the Sections in the Region have had a Risk Assessment (either Yellow and/or Amber) approved to allow them to re-start face to face Scouting which is great news!

A reminder though that there is no pressure to return to face to face Scouting. You know your young people, you know the limitations of your meeting place, the ability of your leaders to be able to return and what your parents are willing to sign back up to.

If you need any specific support with Risk Assessments please contact your line manager in the first instance. In addition, Mike Treanor, Scouting Support Officer would be happy to provide advice and support (

Moving to Yellow Readiness in Scotland

We can confirm the following changes to the rules for Yellow readiness in Scotland:

  • Indoor activities are now allowed, but outdoor activities are still preferred and should be encouraged.
  • Numbers can change to a total party size of 30 and this includes young people and adults – both indoors and outdoors. Any Young Leaders are also included in this total, but remember that they do not count towards the adult side of ratios – they should count towards the young people side. (The increase to 30 outdoors is also permitted in Amber)
  • Indoor activities will carry more potential risk so numbers must be adjusted accordingly to allow social distancing to be maintained, among those aged 12+.
  • Young people under 12 (Beavers, Cubs and younger Scouts) do not need to socially distance from each other but older Scouts, Explorers and Adults should maintain social distancing, currently at 2m.
  • All adults must socially distance from all young people (even those under 12), where it is not possible for a short period then a face covering must be worn.
  • No gatherings of more than 30 are permitted for any reason and multiple groups must continue to be at least 25m away from each other.
  • Adults don’t need to wear a face covering when delivering activities unless social distancing can’t be maintained.
  • Young People over 12 need only wear a face covering if social distancing can’t be maintained e.g. when moving from one activity to another. Social distancing should still be the norm.
  • Consideration should be given to age group bubbles to reduce group sizes, for example the Scout Section might choose to meet with 10-11-year olds as one bubble and 12-14- year olds for another but that will depend on factors such as Troop size, hall size etc.
  • Whilst it is now possible for leaders to move between Sections on the same day, this should be limited to avoid contact with too many households and increase the risk.
  • Groups will need to get consent from parents and carers before young people move to indoor activities.
  • Those Sections meeting outside in groups of up to 30 in public places may experience enquiry or even verbal abuse from the general public who will not be aware of our exemptions from the normal rules. Please be patient, be polite, and explain that we come under Education rules and ensure that the 2m distancing by over 12’s is being observed. Wearing neckers or uniform will help. Youthwork is an essential service and after 6 months of lockdown, it is vital that some normality returns to our young people’s lives.
  • Adult Leader training and other adult gatherings that are not direct youth work (working with Sections) should not involve groups of more than 6 people indoors or outdoors and household restrictions do apply.
  • Residential experiences (both in the UK and Internationally) won’t be permitted before 1 January 2021 at the earliest, but Scouts Scotland will review this position again in December

Risk Assessments

  • Not all ‘Amber’ risk assessments will need to be re-submitted because of these changes. Groups and Sections that have already had their risk assessments approved may wish to amend their current risk assessments to allow for the changes as follows:
  • A Group/Section who’ve already had an ‘Amber’ approved risk assessment for meeting outdoors, but want to increase their numbers outdoors, should simply note this as a change on their local copy. This doesn’t need to be re-approved as there are no new COVID-19 risks identified.
  • A Group/Section who’ve already had an ‘Amber’ approved risk assessment for meeting outdoors, and who want to move to ‘Yellow’ and meet indoors, would need to consider what new COVID-19 risks exist and submit the amended risk assessment for re-approval ensuring that it clearly states that this is ‘Amber to Yellow’. Until that’s approved, they may continue to meet outdoors under their previously approved risk assessment but now with group sizes up to 30.
  • A Group/Section who haven’t submitted a risk assessment before now have the opportunity to include outdoor and indoor options on a single risk assessment in ‘Yellow’. They should not be asked to complete Amber and Yellow risk assessments but make it clear that it is a ‘Yellow Risk Assessment’

The South East Scotland Scouts Regional Model Risk Assessment can be found here to help you with your own specific circumstances.

More on “DofE canoe expedition training…”

As highlighted in last month’s newsletter, the Coronavirus lockdown hasn’t stopped a group of 16 Explorers from Craigalmond, Braid, Pentland and West Lothian Districts starting the training for their Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) expeditions by canoe…online.  It came about from the chance encounter of a Leader with interests in enhancing the uptake of paddle sport in Scouting and an Assistant Regional Commissioner knowing about an unmet desire amongst Explorers to do their DofE expedition by some other means than hiking.  After discussions with the Explorers’ DESCs over coffees and cake, a plan was agreed.  Its lead, Steve Hankin, picks up with what’s been achieved despite coronavirus and the latest developments to enhance paddle expeditions across the Region…

Having got the go-ahead and the opportunity to work with a ready-made group of Explorers keen to do their Silver or Gold Award expeditions by canoe, the plan involved a mix of shore-based and on-water training & practice, covering all the aspects needed for an expedition by canoe.  A number of elements (e.g. campcraft, first aid, navigation, route planning and risk assessment) were going to be done in conjunction with the hike-based training programmes for the DofE Awards running jointly between the Craigalmond, Braid and Pentland Districts.  It was all coming together nicely.  Then came lockdown.

Not wanting to lose the interest or momentum, and knowing that the DofE Training Frameworks have a substantive amount of knowledge development as well as skills development, we proposed to make good use of the time by delivering the knowledge-based aspects of the training programme through a series of 8 weekly online sessions using a mix of interactive and instructional activities.

Content for each week was developed to suit online meetings, using images & short videos, discussions captured on the Zoom Whiteboard, quiz questions and break-out rooms.  Covering the basics about safety, equipment, parts of the canoe and even what the different paddling strokes look like, is intended to help the paddlers feel a little more prepared for getting on the water once face-to-face Scouting resumes.  A Leader team made up of two DESCs, a DofE Leader and an Explorer Leader ensured online safeguarding and provided invaluable support to the sessions with input from their experiences on and off the water.

Having completed the initial knowledge training, feedback from the Explorers has been positive (“The sessions have been really enjoyable and built a good foundation of our paddling skills” Callum Smith, Cramond ESU) and interest in continuing sessions over the summer has been expressed by the majority taking part. The Explorers have put forward suggestions for further online meetings they want to do, including discussion of expedition food & menu planning, a quiz and a DofE Q&A session to give them some insight into what’s expected in the expedition’s assessment.

Getting the training underway during lockdown is intended to have numerous benefits, some obvious and some that are perhaps more subtle.  The sessions have given the group (from six ESUs) the early opportunity to get to know each other and the Leader team, as well as helping them develop their knowledge of something that’s new to many of them.  Whilst the Explorers all have different paddle sport abilities, they share a common goal of wanting a new challenge in how they do their DofE expeditions.

It’s very much hoped that this new initiative in training, practice and support for paddle expeditions and longer-term skills development, will encourage young people in Scouting to take up the opportunity to pass on their knowledge and skills to those embarking on paddle expeditions in the years ahead.  To support this and establish a base for local DofE paddle expedition training, developments are underway to reactivate the Explorer Scout Unit based at Longcraig Scout Water Activity Centre over the coming months and establish a programme for Explorers to gain skills in paddle- and water-sports activities and leadership that can contribute towards their Top Awards and, in time, as part of the ESYL programme and the long-term sustainability of skills at Longcraig.

If you are interested in any of this, or have Explorers looking to do their expedition by canoe in 2021 and interested in training, get in touch!

Steve Hankin
Assistant Scout Leader

Introducing Cathy Southworth

In this article, Cathy Southworth, Section Assistant (Hillwalking) at 25th Braid and Hillwalking Assessor, South East Region describes her journey to leading Scouts in the Scottish Mountains.

“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir

It was one of those crisp January days in the Pentland Hills, my local haunt for running, cycling and walking. I chanced upon my friend, Scout leader at 25th Braids returning with a flushed face group of scouts from walking. We chatted about the wondrous effect of the outdoors and I blithely offered my help on future walks as an accompanying adult. Little did I know that 18 months later I would be qualified as a Summer Mountain leader and organising scout walks into the mountains myself!

“It’s a grand thing, to get leave to live” – Nan Shephard

Like Nan Shephard I’ve spent much of life feeling my most alive in the outdoors. I have designed most of my weekends, holidays even my work commute to take me outdoors, being active in nature. I am at my happiest creating and experiencing big mountain journeys, whether running, walking or cycling. I find it difficult to express what draws me to these experiences, but what I know is that something special happens. They leave me feeling more connected, spirited and inspired and when they are absent, I sense a loss.

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hilary

My early days as a Girl Guide and Venture Scout, tramping in The Lake District, Lancashire and Yorkshire fed my outdoor flame. I have fond memories of campfires, singing and adventures that gave me experience, confidence and friends. As I have grown older, I have felt a need to contribute to the growth of our young people in the outdoors. To help equip them with the skills and experiences they need for a life-long connection with wild places and outdoor activity.

25th Braid Scouts in the Pentland Hills (pre-lockdown)

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

Here then lay my opportunity when my friend contacted me after our chance meeting, suggesting I should apply for a Terrain 1 (Summer) permit. Classed as an Adventurous Activity in scouting, a permit scheme exists to equip and assess adults for leading under 18 groups hillwalking. The beauty of these schemes is that there is flexibility to meet your needs and stage of development.  Through a discussion with one of the (friendly) Regional Assessors, you can plan a progression that works for you.

Above all, recent personal experience in mountain environments is key. For me this was the easy part, remembering all of my journeys and logging them was not! Once I started, though, I enjoyed reliving the memories and it built my confidence seeing just how far I’d come.

It seems strange to say (my friends think I’m mad) but I really enjoyed the Terrain 1 assessment that involved two days on the Ochil hills. In a small group, we covered all of the skills outlined in the syllabus. Much of the days’ focus was on navigation and once in your stride this proved to be a learning experience as well as an assessment.

I get a lot of pleasure from navigating well; finding my way when momentarily lost, locating a control on an orienteering course, planning a perfect route. I hear many people say ‘I can’t navigate’ or ‘I’m no good at navigating’ with a conviction that it is an innate trait. Like much that we learn, navigating on the hills is just a set of skills to hone and practice. Often its poor teaching that makes us feel it is our lack of ability and confidence plummets. Luckily, now there are some fantastic courses to boost our confidence the other way, for example, Glenmore Lodge, Mountaineering Scotland and within your Scouting training menu as well.

After being awarded my Terrain 1 permit it as with intrepid excitement that I started plans for some Terrain 1 outings that included the Pentlands (the highest peak being in terrain 1 territory) and Ben Venue. I knew immediately that I was going to go for the Summer Mountain leader award. This is the nationally recognised qualification for leading people in the mountains in summer conditions, which in scouting would provide me with a Terrain 2 (summer) permit.

Glenmore Lodge was where I undertook my one weeks training and then a year later, my weeklong assessment. It was a hugely rewarding experience and I am immensely grateful to scouting for part funding. With the end goal being qualified to lead and supervise young people in the higher and more remote mountains, there is no doubt that the process has developed me as a person and mountaineer. This coming not just from the skills I learnt, but the people I met and enriched me.

“The top of one mountain is always the bottom of another” – Marianne Williamson

For me this year was the opportunity to put all of this development into practice and lead some walks in some wild mountain areas. With the unexpected always expected in life, the year has instead afforded some time to reflect, sort out kit and look forward to a return to the hills.

My hope for writing this article is that it encourages some of you reading to make a personal (or an unsuspecting friend or family member) step towards leading scouts on the hills. That by sharing my experience it makes it seem not just a possibility but also a rewarding and life-enhancing journey to begin.

Useful links

Syllabus for Hillwalking Permits in Scouting:  Assessment Checklist for Hillwalking Leadership

National Awarding Body: Mountain Training

Representative organisation for mountaineering in Scotland: Mountaineering Scotland

Glenmore Lodge – National Outdoor Training Centre

If you would like to discover more about Cathy’s experience please contact her at