It’s been great to see so many Groups and Sections continuing to provide “virtual Scouting” during this difficult period – here are just a few highlights.
Lauderdale Scout Group presenting Top Awards Virtually
Lauderdale Scout Group have been presenting Top Awards virtually to their Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. The recipients were:
Bronze – Dexter
Silver – DK, Holly, Harris, Ella, Isla, Cairn, Caelan, Oscar, Fred, Alisdair & Matthew
Gold – Alex & Tom
Each one of them has been working hard to complete the final elements of their Top Awards during lockdown. They undertook a range of activities including: Shelter building in the garden; lots of baking; cooking and backwoods cooking; helping with household chores; helping around the farm; leading others in an armpit fudge session on zoom; learning Sign Language; compiling a News Report; making a Countryside Code poster and lots of hikes.
Section Leader, Cubs
1st North Berwick Beavers – our lockdown Scouting experience so far
It’s been a steep learning curve getting to grips with technology to continue providing meaningful Scouting experiences for our Beavers in lockdown, but so far, we’ve been able to keep our colony engaged.
We started by creating short badgework activity videos and ended up stumbling into the world of YouTube as a means of keeping our content together and making it accessible to our young people. (We had previously been posting videos to our closed Facebook group for colony parents, which of course our young people can’t access themselves.)
Since March we’ve created numerous badgework activity videos for both the Creative activity badge and the Scottish Thistle Challenge Award and we’ll be uploading more activity videos in July for the new Great Indoors staged badge. YouTube has worked well for us and a good number of Beavers have been engaging with badgework.
The Badges at Home feature on OSM has made it really easy to administer badgework evidence. Parents can upload photos or videos and specify which badge criteria their children have completed, for leaders to review. This has saved us a whole load of work in keeping badge records up to date. Badges at Home also allows you to upload badge resources for parents to download and print so we’ve created a range of activity sheets and record sheets to make it easier for parents and Beavers to do the badges and submit their evidence.
We started doing Zoom sessions in June to invest our new Beavers who had joined just before lockdown in early March. We were initially hesitant to attempt Zoom as we were unsure how well it would work for such a young age group, but we felt it was important to Invest them so we decided to give it a go. We’ve done a few Zooms now and we’re still finding our feet with running sessions in this way but the young people have been enjoying them and the key to success has been keeping it short, simple and fun, and in small groups. We held the Investiture sessions as four separate lodge meetings and we then hosted the whole colony for an end of term session in which we split into separate lodge ‘rooms’ to play ‘Rapidough’. We had one or two technical issues but we managed to sort them out and the Beavers had fun.
What has worked well for us:
- We stressed to parents that everything is optional. We’ve tried not to put people under pressure and have tried to be flexible to allow people to do whatever they want, when they want, or nothing at all. To do that, we’ve given a range of options from videos and individual badgework to Zooms and Regional or national events.
- We’ve tried to make it easy for parents to support their children with activities, as engagement with children of Beavers age from a distance largely depends on their parents engaging with us too.
- We teamed up with the leaders in the other Beaver colony in our Group for the Scottish Thistle Award to share the workload so we only had to make one video each.
- For the videos, we’ve chosen badges that aren’t too challenging for the leaders to demonstrate and are easy for parents and Beavers to do at home. We’ve avoided challenge badges for that reason. We’ve also tried to choose badges that no Beavers have already done, to maximise engagement.
- Sticking to a regular day each week has helped leaders to plan their time for the video they are preparing and the consistency has helped with engagement from Beavers – a few of them look forward to the video being published each Monday.
- We celebrate Beavers’ achievements by posting regular photos and videos of their badgework (with permission) to our Facebook group. This has helped to motivate them and encourage others to take part.
- Zoom is fine if broken down into small, short sessions with simple, fun activities. I think the Beavers have enjoyed seeing their peers again for a bit of fun.
- It helps to allocate different roles for Zoom – someone in charge of leading the session, someone responsible for the technical hosting of the meeting and someone to monitor background noise and request that members mute/unmute as appropriate.
- I think trying to keep some visual contact (by video and Zoom) over the last few months has helped maintain the relationship and engagement, particularly for our new members who had only had a few sessions with us before lockdown. And Investing them has helped them feel that they are part of the colony.
Section Leader, Beavers
Pink Panthers Explorer Scout Unit summer term 2020
Safe to say this term has been somewhat unorthodox in the way we have been doing scouting, however the Explorers have been no less active. Over the last few weeks, we have been taking part in lots of different activities over zoom. Many quizzes, origami and some musical bingo has been really enjoyed by the Explorers during this term. One very inventive activity was the Where’s Wally that was organised with some help from our older explorers. For this activity we had pre-prepared the location and person that the explorers had to navigate to from an international landmark on google maps street view, with help from the leaders as well. We have also been utilizing the breakout rooms in the zoom meeting. Hosting a real-life guess who, where someone was anonymously put into a breakout room of 4-5 explorers and it was those Explorers jobs’ to guess who it was by asking questions and the anonymous explorer would then reply in the chat. We have also been looking forward to the, hopefully, near future and our explorers were planning camps to go to on a leader’s passport once we are allowed.
Some of our Explorers have also taken part in the two virtual camps that have been held this term. The weeklong Regional SleepOut was thoroughly enjoyed by hosting a nightly zoom call, some of which lasted until very early in the morning! On these calls we watched some high-class Disney movies like the Lion King and played online games such as skribbl.io, while playing that one we discovered how great we are at drawing! Four of our Explorers were part of the team helping to organise the recent Regional ‘LongestDay SleepOut’ which was an incredibly successful event with over 1,200 participants. These Explorers along with others from around the district created an incredibly thought-provoking Scouts Own that was included as part of the program of the camp.
Some of our Explorers have also been attending their young leader training over Zoom. So far 4 modules have been delivered over Zoom which means many of our younger Explorers have now learned many new skills to take back to their respective beaver, cub or scout pack, later on in the year.
During this term we have had two new leaders and 12 new explorers Invested over Zoom. The Pink Panthers are now a strong unit of 63 explorers, which will be interesting trying to squeeze everyone back into the hall as soon as face to face scouting can resume! As well as this, two of our explorers have achieved their young leader belt which one of the top awards in scouting. A few of our new explorers have just achieved their Chief Scout Gold Award as well and I’m sure will be well on their way to achieving their platinum in no time.
From all the Explorers, we thank our amazing leaders for coming up with such innovative and fun ways of delivering the activities while in an online capacity and keeping the program running seamlessly. Thanks to them, the calls ran 10x smoother than a normal Explorer night. During summer we aim to hold a few calls here and there and keep the scouting ticking over as many of our summers have been cancelled. Although I’m sure most of summer will be dedicated to the leaders attempting to find a real-life mute button for when we are back in the hall.
Many sections will be taking a well-earned break during the Summer holidays, but if you are continuing with providing Scouting or are planning for the next term, there are lots of virtual Programme ideas on the South East Scotland website via this link, which we will continue to update during the summer.
Scouting Support Officer