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Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Sustainable development time capsule

First suggested by Save the Children
Create a time capsule with a message for the present and the future.

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You’ll need

  • Pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • Container
  • Spade or shovel

Before you start

  • Try to find some old photographs of your local area, the place your group meets, or local Scouts from the past. You could have a look online or see if you can find any old photo albums.
  • These instructions talk about burying the time capsule – make sure you have permission. If you don’t have space to do this, think about another way to keep it safe. Could you store it somewhere special in your building or chat to a local library or museum about your options?
  • Decide who you’ll invite to watch you bury your time capsule – you’ll need to give them plenty of notice and share all of the details including the date, time, location, and access information.

Plan the time capsule

  1. Everyone should chat about what they think their area was like one hundred years ago. What might have been different? What might be the same?
  2. The person leading the activity should show everyone some old photographs. Everyone should point any differences and similarities they can spot.
  3. Everyone should chat about what things may change in their lifetimes. What would they like the world to be like for young people in the future? What about for refugees and displaced children?
  1. The person leading the activity should ask everyone how they could to share their experience of the world with people in the future.
  1. The person leading the activity should explain that time capsules can send a direct message to people in the present as well as people in the future. They encourage people to think about their hopes for the future and what they can do to make those things happen.
  2. Everyone should think about what their container will need to be like. They’ll have to think of something strong and watertight that’ll survive being buried.
  3. Everyone should think about how they’ll make sure people in 2030 find their time capsule. Will they mark the location, make a flag, or make sure it’s noted in an important place?

Make the time capsule

  1. Everyone should about their hopes for 2030, especially their hopes for refugees and displaced children. How could these changes happen? What role might everyone play in making these changes happen?
  2. Everyone should create a message to people in the future that explains their hopes for refugees and displaced children.
  1. Everyone should chat about what they’ve done to take action for refugees and displaced children. How could they include this in their time capsule?
  2. Everyone should work together to decide what other things they’ll include to give people in the future a fun snapshot of their lives. They could think about photos, lyrics from their favourite songs, or clean wrappers from their favourite snacks.

Bury the time capsule

  1. Someone should tell the guests about everyone’s hopes for the future when it comes to refugees and displaced children. They should also explain the changes that need to happen to make the hopes a reality.
  1. All of the guests should write down their own hopes about what the world will be like for refugees and displaced children in 2030.
  1. Everyone should place all the guests’ hopes in their time capsule (or a separate watertight container).
  2. Someone should dig a hole and bury the capsule.
  1. Everyone should mark the capsule in the way they planned to make sure it’s found in the future.
Logo containing the words Scouts for SDGs. The O in Scouts is made up of 17 coloured segments, representing the 17 goals.

This activity helps contribute towards some of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Find out more about the SDGs, and how Scouts across the world are getting involved.

1 No Poverty - an image of a group of people


This activity needed people to communicate. Was it easy to think about the world in 2030? How did people choose to share their message? You could chat about how different people prefer to communicate in different ways – art, creative writing, and videos can all send a message. How did people spread the word about their time capsule to make sure people know to open it in 2030?

This activity was also about helping your community and making a difference. Do people think their hopes will come true? What could they do to make it more likely? People could think about how they can make a difference on a local scale with their actions as well as using their voice to speak to decision makers.


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.

People should feel free to get creative to share their message – maybe they could write a story about the future they want or create a video to put on a memory stick.

People don’t need to write perfect essays – drawings can be just as meaningful. People should work together so everyone can use their skills to contribute.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

How else can you spread the word about your time capsule? You could share a bit about it on social media or contact your local media. You could give people a taste of what’s inside – but don’t reveal everything! You want some of the contents to stay a surprise for people in 2030.

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