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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

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

When disaster strikes

Look into a recent extreme weather event or seismic hazard and explore how people help put things back together again.

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You’ll need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Access to the internet
  • Access to a computer
  • Balloons
  • Felt-tips
  • Speaker or headphones, as needed

Before you begin

  • If there’s no internet access at your meeting place, print some resources for the group to use in advance. They could research a recent incident like the Australian bush fires (2019-2020). We’ve included some web links in the ‘Extreme weather and seismic hazard examples’ below to help.
  • Try to source news stories that are age-appropriate and that everyone has the ability to research. Some topics may make people uncomfortable as they may have been personally affected in the past, or have friends and family in countries prone to extreme weather and seismic hazards. Let everyone know that they can step away, talk to someone and have a break if they need to.

All extreme weather, seismic hazards​ and communities are different. Some countries are able to prepare for these events and hazards, while some rely on support from overseas governments and charities like Oxfam. Much of this support doesn’t always help communities recover in the long term. For example, following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the Haitian government asked for food donations to stop so that the economy could recover. Donations had removed the need for producers in the country to make food. Learn more about issues like this by watching this trailer for the 2004 documentary ‘Poverty, Inc.’


Discover a disaster

  1. Split into groups of three or four people. Find a space to set up with paper, something to write with and a computer or smartphone connected to the internet.
  2. Spend some time researching an extreme weather or seismic event. Find photos, read articles and watch videos that show what happened, how it affected people and how they responded.

Have a look through the ‘Extreme weather and seismic hazard examples’ we’ve provided or find some of your own.

  1. Each group should settle on a single event and consider the short-term needs of the people affected. Think about practical and emotional needs, priorities and risks. Fold a sheet of paper into quarters and write these down in the first quarter.
  2. Consider the longer-term needs of the people affected. Think about damage to roads and other infrastructure, and what might be needed to kickstart the local economy. Write down notes in the second quarter.
  3. Consider the location and country affected. Think about how developed it is, how able it is to recover and how its economy might be damaged. Write down notes in the third square.
  4. Then, choose three photos. One should represent short-term needs, one longer-term needs and one the location of the event.
  5. Consider the response of the country affected and others. Think about who could help with the clean-up, provide services, supplies or support. List these in the fourth square.

This support might include providing things like: water containers and water purification tablets to help people get safe drinking water, tents or equipment to build emergency shelters (like tarpaulins, ground sheets, ropes and nails), hygiene kits including things like soap, solar lights to provide light where there’s no electricity, blankets to provide warmth, mosquito nets to prevent the spread of disease, educational materials so children can study or mental health support.

  1. Groups should link up and share their findings. They should look at the photos and information and discuss what that particular event might be like to live through.

Juggle resources

  1. Each group should choose their top five things needed to help people affected by their event. Give each group five balloons. They should inflate them and write each means of support on a balloon in felt-tip. Explain that the aim of the game is for groups to take turns to keep their balloons off of the floor.
  2. One volunteer from each group should stand in the middle. The others should stand around them holding the balloons. The person leading the activity should shout ‘Go!’ The balloons should be thrown into the middle. The person in the middle must keep them all in the air for 30 seconds without catching them. After 30 seconds, stop the game.
  3. See if any groups dropped any balloons. See what was written on any dropped balloons. Groups should think about how this lost form of aid would affect the victims short and long term. Repeat the balloon juggling game with two people in the middle or more, if everyone enjoyed it.

See if groups found it easier working together to keep the balloons in the air.

Scout out some help

  1. Everyone should think about some people who do the kind of things that help out those affected by extreme weather and seismic events. They could think specifically about those who do the things they wrote on their balloons. Draw the outline of a person on a piece of paper and write down five actions around the outside of the page.
  2. Now, think about the qualities and skills a person would need to provide help in these ways. Remember that lots of aid workers are volunteers. If you found examples of aid workers in your research earlier, think about their qualities and skills. For instance, they might be kind and dedicated, able to perform first aid, or good at fixing things.

Everyone could have some time here to research aid workers helping with their chosen extreme weather or seismic hazard.

  1. Illustrate the qualities and skills on the person they drew. They could use words or drawings. Allow some time for each person to decorate their outline and give them clothes or equipment they might use when helping others.
  2. Everyone should now think about their own qualities and skills. Select three. Have everyone think about whether their qualities and skills would be useful if they were helping out after extreme weather or a seismic event. Consider whether there are any that are similar to the aid worker they’ve drawn. Think about times when these qualities and skills have come in useful.
  3. The groups should go back to the three pictures they found of short-term issues, long term issues and the locations affected. They should think of things they could do to help when the next disaster strikes in these three scenarios. Something to help people immediately, something to help people in the aftermath and something to help the country cope better as a whole.

Check out our A Million Hands resources from the British Red Cross for some ideas. You could also look at the Scouts Donation Platform and Scouts for SDGs to see what other people have been doing.


Qualities like resilience and compassion are just as important as practical skills in helping those affected by extreme weather and seismic events. They’re also important in our everyday lives when we’re having a hard time with difficult situations. How did being resilient help you and how does being compassionate help others? These work the other way round too; it feels good and does good when we help others!

Does anyone have any coping skills they use to help with setbacks? Would anyone like to share these with the group? Being positive and accepting help from those around us can often be key in helping people and countries bounce back. As global citizens, we can all do something to help others cope when extreme weather and seismic hazards occur. Even something small can make a big difference.


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.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe. Take a look at our online safety or bullying guidance. The NSPCC offers more advice and guidance, too. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection CommandAs always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare, including their online experiences, follow the Yellow Card to make a report.

Phones and cameras

Make sure parents and carers are aware and have given consent for photography.

Music and films

Make sure music and films are age appropriate for the youngest person present.

Make the balloon juggling game more difficult by adding extra balloons, or not allowing players to touch the same balloon twice in succession.

The balloon juggling game can be made more accessible by removing certain actions and by having the juggler stick to one position.

Groups could make collective pictures of aid workers, if they don’t enjoy drawing or writing too much.

Double-check that no-one is allergic to balloons (latex), felt-tip ink or any other materials used in this activity.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Challenge groups to think of a plan of action, once they’ve decided what they can do to help. They could do activities to raise awareness in the community, or maybe they could organise some fundraisers to help the communities they learned about. This is great for anyone working towards their Scouts Fundraising Activity Badge.

Individuals had the opportunity to consider their own qualities and skills alongside those of real-life aid workers. They could choose to research whichever extreme weather or seismic hazard they like, picking out case studies and images and other materials to present.