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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Delicious dreys

Celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day and make a tasty chocolate squirrels nest treat.

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You’ll need

  • Mixing bowls
  • Wooden spoons
  • Spoons
  • Microwave
  • See recipe for ingredients
  • Oven gloves
  • Cupcake cases
  • Cupcake tray (optional)
  • First aid kit for burns
  • Fire blanket or fire extinguisher

Before you begin 

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Take a look at our guidance to help you carry out your risk assessment, including examples.  
  • Make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers. 
  • Check for allergies, intolerances, fasting, food-related medical conditions, eating disorders, food sensitivities or dietary requirements, then adjust the food items used as needed. This may include making sure there’s no cross-contamination of packaging and no cross-contamination during the storage, preparation, cooking and serving. 
  • You may need to use separate chopping boards, equipment and utensils, such as tongs or toasters, for different dietary requirements, allergies and foods.
  • If you’re unsure, check with the young person and their parents or carers. You can check with the adult directly if it’s a volunteer or helper.
  • Some people may not like certain food textures or tastes and that’s OK. People don’t need to use all the ingredients if they don’t want to, and no-one should be made to try foods if they don’t want to. You can try to find an alternative for them. 
  • Take a look at our guidance on food preparation
  • You could run our kitchen hygiene activities before this session.
  • Always have a hand washing station, washing hands regularly throughout this activity, and taking extra hygiene precautions when handling food. If you're using gloves to prepare food, treat them like your hands. Wash any gloves before using them and in between if necessary.
  • Spray and wipe down all working surfaces and tables with anti-bacterial spray before and after use, and wash any equipment you’re using in hot soapy water.
  • Take extra hygiene precautions when handling raw meat, such as regular hand washing.
  • Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate, having separate equipment for raw and cooked meat, and washing up equipment as soon as it's been used. 
  • Make sure food is properly cooked before you serve it. Always cut through poultry and meat to make sure it's fully cooked, especially when barbecuing food. Make sure it's cooked slowly and thoroughly, and not just done on the outside.
  • Always follow cooking instructions and never use food past its use-by date. 
  • Keep food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible.
  • At the start of this activity, remind everyone of kitchen or indoor cooking safety rules and how to act safely. Always tie hair back, tuck in neckers and loose clothing, and wear closed toe shoes. Take a look at our kitchen safety tips.
  • You may want to run a demonstration on how to use the equipment safely, such as for cooking or chopping ingredients. You could use our kitchen safety activities before this session.
  • Make sure any cooking equipment or heat sources, such as ovens and hobs, always have adult supervision, including during free time and arrival times. If anyone struggles with sensing danger, you should consider providing extra adult supervision. This could be especially helpful at unstructured times, such as breaks or waiting to cook.
  • Remind everyone to keep their fingers away from any knives. You may want to use blunt, child-friendly knives, or you could also have ingredients pre-chopped.
  • If you’re using a gas stove, tabletop hob plates or a mini oven, make sure it’s on a stable heatproof surface and in a clear and open area, with plenty of ventilation. Gas appliances and sources can increase risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Take a look at our guidance on different cooking methods and carbon monoxide.
  • You may want to put child-safe locks on cupboard doors to prevent access by young people, especially for cupboards containing matches, cleaning products or chemicals.
  • People can work in small groups or as a whole group to bake or cook. Each group should have adult supervision.
  • You may want to be in groups, but everyone to use the same cooking source, rather than having each group have their own.
  • You may wish for groups to make or prepare the ingredients in a wider, more spacious area, then invite each group into the kitchen to cook one at a time. 
  • Remember the groups not using the kitchen or cooking will still need to be supervised, always following the Yellow Card
  • Make sure you have all the ingredients ready. You may want to pre-chop or pre-measure some activities.
  • In the UK, we have two types of squirrel. There are grey squirrels and red squirrels.
  • Red squirrels are endangered, which means there isn’t a lot of them left in the wild. The number of them is going down and they’re very rare to see. They’re endangered because grey squirrels carry a disease that makes red squirrels unwell and they’ve passed it on to red squirrels. Woodlands are also being cut down, which is where red squirrels live, so they lose their homes. We all need to try and help look after them.
  • One of the places that red squirrels live is Brownsea Island in Dorset. This’s also where the first ever Scout camp was!
  • Squirrels are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat. Their favourite foods are seeds, nuts (such as acorns) and fruits.
  • Did you know a squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing? This helps with all that gnawing and chewing.
  • Squirrels bury nuts in the ground, so they can have them to eat during the winter. They’re good at finding them. They can even sniff them out when the ground is covered in snow!
  • Squirrels accidentally plant trees! If they don’t find nuts they’ve buried, they’ll eventually grow into trees!
  • Squirrels mostly live high up in the trees.
  • Squirrels can jump far. They can jump up to ten times their body length!
  • Does anyone know what a Squirrel’s nest is called? They’re called Dreys. They look like a messy ball of twigs and leaves, about the size of a football. Has anyone heard of this word before? In Scouts, Squirrel groups are called Dreys. Their top award has an acorn on it, too!


Planning and setting up this activity

  • Take a look at meal safety advice for four and five year olds to prevent choking.
  • The chocolate nests take a while to set, so you may want to ask people to bring a clean, sealable container, such as a lunchbox or biscuit tin, to take them home in.
  • You could do this activity for Squirrel Appreciation Day on 21 January and get your paws on a fun badge from Scout Store


  • 200g of milk chocolate
  • 85g of shredded wheat
  • Edible decorations, such as sprinkles (optional)

Prep time: 10-20 minutes

Cook time: 5 mins

Cooling/setting time:  1 – 2 hours

Serves: Makes 12

Get ready to cook

  1. Gather everyone together and tell them you're going to make a delicious recipe that looks like a Squirrels’ nest.
  2. Depending on the size of the group, divide everyone into smaller groups. You could let them guess what they think’s needed to make this recipe.
  3. Everyone should wash their hands and get ready to make their nests.
  4. Give out the ingredients and recipes, encouraging young people to follow the steps carefully.
  5. First, put the shredded wheat in a mixing bowl, then crush it into small pieces using your hands.
  6. Break up the chocolate into pieces and put it into a separate heatproof bowl.
  7. With an adult’s help and supervision, melt the chocolate, using a stove/hob or microwave. Remember to use oven gloves, as the bowl may get very hot.
    • If you’re using a microwave, use a microwave-safe bowl, and pause and gently stir regularly, as the chocolate can easily burn. You’ll probably want to do this every 20 seconds to start with, and about every 5 seconds later on. 
    • If you’re using a stove/hob, use a heatproof bowl, over a pan of gently simmering water.  You want the bowl to fit snuggly, but not be in the water, and make sure no water gets on your chocolate. It should take about 4 to 5 minutes. Take it off the heat when there are just a few lumps left, and gently stir until it’s all melted.
  8. With an adult’s help or supervision, carefully pour the melted chocolate over the shredded wheat. Stir the chocolate in well, until it all the shredded wheat is covered in chocolate.
  9. With an adult’s help or supervision, spoon the mixture into your cupcake cases. You’ll probably find this easier if the cases are in a cupcake tray / bun tray/ muffin tray You could try to make them ball-shaped, so they look like a squirrel’s nest!
  10. You could decorate your nests. You could use edible sprinkles. Take a look at meal safety advice for four and five year olds to prevent choking.
  11. Pop your nests in the fridge until they’re set. You could play a game while you wait for the nests to set.

Tuck in

  1. Once the chocolate nests have set, everyone can enjoy the delicious recipe!
  2. As you enjoy the food, you could learn a bit more about squirrels. Why not share some facts and ask everyone if they think it is True or False?


This activity was an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, as well as finding out all about the animals that the newest Scout section is named after!

Gather everyone together and ask a little about Squirrels.

  • Have you seen a squirrel?
  • What do they look like? What colour are they?
  • Where do you think they live or sleep?
  • Have you seen squirrels jumping through frees? How far can you jump?
  • What do you think squirrels eat? Is it different to other animals like cats, dogs, horses?
  • Do you know what a carnivore is? It’s an animal that eats meat. Do you think squirrels are carnivores?
  • Do you know what the top award in Squirrels is called? What can you spot on the badge? It’s the Chief Scout’s Acorn Award and has a small picture of an acorn on.

While preparing or making your recipe:

  • Do you help adults with cooking at home? What’s your favourite recipe?
  • Has anyone made these before?
  • How did you share the tasks in your group?
  • How did you decide to design your nests?
  • Do you think this recipe is hard or easy to make?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Teach young people how to use cooking equipment safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Make sure it’s safe to use and follow manufacturers’ guidelines for use.

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.


Remember to check for allergies, eating problems, fasting or dietary requirements and adjust the recipe as needed. Make sure you’ve suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods. Take a look at our guidance on food safety and hygiene.

If you have more time, you can ask the young people to find the ingredients in the style of a treasure hunt.


Check if anyone has any allergies or dietary requirements and adjust the recipe as needed. You could use a gluten free alternative to shredded wheat if you can find it, such as gluten free cereals. You could replace chocolate with dairy-free chocolate, too.

If young people may struggle to understand or follow the instructions, you could try to use visual images and instructions, so that the young people can understand the next steps.

If anyone may struggle with different elements of these activities, you could pair young people up and let them help each other. People could also work in groups and share the tasks out. For example, if someone may struggle with the pouring, they could do the mixing instead.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You can tweak the recipe or let people experiment as they make their own. You can’t go too wrong with chocolate nests! You could try adding some golden syrup and melted butter.

Go on adventure to see if you can find a real squirrel’s nest or spot any clues as to where one might be! You can find some ideas in We’re going on a Squirrel Search.