Early years fun for boys and girls ages 4 and 5
Welcoming Squirrels to Scouting
Scouting across the UK is a constantly evolving and changing organisation and something that we pride ourselves on is our ability to adapt to the changing world around us. The next evolutionary stage is the introduction of a Scout Early Years provision under the name “Squirrels”. This will be a provision for four and five-year-olds to partake in Scouting activities, such as achieving badges, enjoying outdoor adventures, and making new friends. Boys and girls are welcome.
In July 2020, the Trustee Board of The Scout Association took the decision to create early years Scouting for four and five year olds. This followed two years of piloting in England and, more importantly, 25 years of hard work and dedication by volunteers in Northern Ireland who delivered Squirrels.
In the UK, there are currently five Scout sections which young people aged 6 to 25 can join. In age order, they are: Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and Network. Squirrels is the newest – and first – branch in the Scouting family meaning our provision is for young people aged 4-25 now.
In South East Scotland we are taking a staggered approach to rolling out the new Squirrels section for early years, recognising that many groups are concentrating on consolidating the leaders that they have for existing sections.
We have established a Regional Squirrel’s working group comprising the Regional Commissioner, Scouting Support Officer and Squirrels Advisor Neil Hogg. Our first Squirrel drey is due to launch at the 21st Craigalmond Scout Group in South Queensferry later this year and the working group are engaging with the group to support the launch. Currently, we are looking for adults to join the Squirrel team. So please get in touch if you think you can help.
There are some things that must be in place from day one. Making sure volunteers have undergone safety and safeguarding training, appropriate vetting and disclosure checks have been carried out, dealing with data etc will all need to be handled properly before you can begin to delivery Squirrels as part of a Scout Group.
We understand some of this will be frustrating and feel like duplication. However, now that Squirrels is legally part of The Scout Association, we must ensure our policies and rules are understood and followed by all. We will only insist on immediate action that are designed to keep young people safe.
Squirrels can only start in areas where there’s manager approval and we’re prioritising new provision that will reach underserved communities most in need. Only those invited into a cohort can start Squirrels as this is a new age range, so it’s important members are well supported in getting things setup safely.
If you’re not currently involved with Scouts but would be interested in starting Squirrels in your area, head to our Group Finder to find your local group and let them know.
Parents and Carers
We encourage all parents and carers to take an active interest in what is going on with all sections, including Squirrels. If you would like to help see our information for adult volunteers.