For the first time in our 16 year history Cardrona Scout Group has begun running virtual meetings. Like many Scout groups around the UK and the World we are having to adapt and learn new skills during the Global COVID-19 pandemic.  So here’s what Cardrona have been doing so far.

Last Week we began with the Beavers on a Zoom conference meeting.  Zoom is fairly easy to set up and so far we have found the free option is enough for our needs.  We had also already discussed keeping the meeting shorter than normal as its their firs time doing this. We sent out the email with the Zoom meeting details to all the parents in advance and asked them to check that they could get it working.  We had asked the parents to have paper and pens and the Beavers favourite cuddly toy to hand for the activities.  We asked parents to have it set up in a public room of the house too.

At 6pm the Beaver Leader started the meeting and we soon had most of our Beavers join us.  Kirstin the Beaver Leader had already set up the meeting to start with all participants muted so that she could say hello and let them know what the plan was.  Our first activity was a scavenger hunt where Kirstin shouted out an object and the Beavers then went searching around their house to find it and show it on the screen. Simple lists like hairbrush, toothpaste, teddy bear. The Beavers and their parents really got involved with this game.

After our Scavenger hunt Kirstin explained that we are going to work on our Book Reader badge and asked them all to think about their favourite book and then draw a picture of the cover which the Beavers then took turns to hold up and talk about. As many Beavers are quite shy at talking we asked the parents to really help them out for this bit.  By this time we were already more than half way through the meeting so Kirstin asked them all to get comfy, find their teddy and she read them all a bedtime story to finish the meeting.  At the end we did our Promise and the Goodbye chant that we use.    

With all of our section we use Online Scout Manager and have now switched on the new Badges at Home Section and will be encouraging our members to have a look at that and try out new Badges. In the Beaver and Cub section we will be limiting the badges at the moment to the ones that are much easier to compete independently such as Book reader, Hobbies, gardener and Chef. We are also looking at joining in with JOTI special event and the Northumberland Scout #campathome initiative and their world record attempt.  We’ve been sending out links to great ideas that we find but I have also told parents that they are not expected to do it all or even anything if they just feel that there’s too much to take in at the moment

The parents all sent great feedback after the meeting through our closed Facebook group, sharing photos they’d taken of their Beavers doing the activities and watching the meeting. We also had siblings that are not yet Beavers join the fun too. 

My next meeting was with the Scout section. Again I had decided to limit the meeting to an hour rather than our usual 1hr 45ms.  We ran another treasure hunt and then a multiple choice quiz – they made their own ABC signs to hold up.  Im really new to zoom and working in this way so its a real learning curve. Mute all was definitely needed for the Scout Section! 

The Following evening is our fortnightly Explorer meeting and thanks to Facebook groups I had found a great treasure hunt for them to play using Google Street View where I told them items they had to find, like a giraffe, the Whitehouse, a yellow taxi, then screenshot and send to me through the chat or through email.  Most of the activities I’ve seen so far on forums and Facebook groups are focused on the younger sections so it’ll be interesting to see where the Explorers  and their Leaders around the UK take this and the activities they come up with. We have found for this type of activity that Zoom works best on a laptop rather than phone as we cant yet work out how to see a screenshot or file in chat on a phone!

The main thing Ive learned so far is that this will take time. Everyone is having to learn how to adjust the new way of life. Many Adult leaders are having to spend most of their days looking at screens and being involved in online meetings and are now just needing time to chill out with their families rather than do more meetings.  The kids – especially the Explorers and the Scouts are having to learn how to manage their own education and might find the idea of Scouting and badges just too much so it will take time.  If I can engage them even a tiny bit and give them a tiny bit of fun I’ll feel we’ve succeeded in keeping Scouting Going!