Update November 2020: It all started on 18th March 2020 – Scouting in the UK was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic as the whole country goes into lockdown. No face to face meetings, no outdoor activities, no camping!
At this stage, no-one knew how long the lockdown would last. Whilst everyone adjusted to the rules on lockdown, our leaders were thinking of ways to keep in touch with our scout group members.
Although we had no previous experience of virtual meetings, nor any idea how we could run a programme online, our leaders thought it was worth a try. So just 2 weeks into lockdown we planned our first online meetings. As experienced section leaders, used to delivering meetings at the Scout Hall, with all our resources around us, space outside to use and woodlands to visit, Zoom meetings proved a bit of a challenge at first. We worked out our programmes and methods of delivery, we delivered resources to our members and our parents were fully supportive of all sections.
In early May, one month after starting Zoom meetings, we held our first virtual weekend Family Camp. We had 25 families joining us online for the weekend. There were lots of activities for everyone to take part in, ranging from craft activities, a virtual regatta, campfires and the chance to sleep in tents. It was a great weekend.
Since then, all sections have continued delivering weekly meetings online.
The lovely weather we had made a huge difference as we could include activities that could be done outdoors with their families, rather than just sitting at home. Beavers and Cubs have completed a lot of Activity badges, from Communicator to Hikes Away, Book Reader to Local Knowledge and the Cooks badge. They have also worked towards Challenge badges, grown the tallest sunflower and fattest pumpkin. We have invested 10 new members via Zoom, 5 of whom had not even joined before we went into lockdown!
Scouts enjoyed completing their Artist badge, they have got to grips with Virtual Sailing, done map reading and navigation using the What3Words app. Scouts are also good at Kahoots, Escape Rooms and creating their own cotton reel racers!
Explorers are very good at the technology – most of them leave me standing! Explorers are able to plan their own programmes, so each week a different person plans the meeting. So far we have had Escape Rooms, quizzes, virtual regattas, multi- player games, even an art competition and they also tried their hand at Morse Code.
Getting back together safely
All sections have now seured approval for the required Risk Assessments for getting back together safely. Explorers started by holding an outdoor meeting on 31st October 2020 with the other sections to start the following week. But then, we received this information from Scout headquarters.
“Following the announcement of a four week lockdown in England with effect from Thursday 5th November, the National Youth Agency (NYA) has issued guidance for all youth sector activity.
Scouts and all youth sector activity will move to Red readiness level.
This decision by the Government means that there can be no face-to-face activity with young people or adult volunteers. Only online meetings can be delivered until further notice”
Sadly, this means that our planned re-introduction of face to face meetings is now on hold and all sections will continue to deliver their programmes on Zoom. However, thanks to the work already done by our leaders in getting our Risk Assessments approved, when the lockdown is lifted the group will be ready to start face to face meetings.
Watch this space!
Cyndy Lloyd, 1st Weaverham Sea Scout group and Endurance Explorer Scouts