What's been happening back at Beavers for Wells Scout group
Heather Anderson is a Beaver Scout Leader at Wells Scouts. Her Beaver Colony’s started meeting face-to-face again, so we caught up with them to see what they’ve been up to.
When we chatted to Heather, her area was at readiness level Amber meaning that sessions could take place indoors and outdoors with up to 15 young people and 5 leaders per group. Check out the information on getting back together safely to find out what you need to do to restart face-to-face Scouts where you are.
How long have you been doing face-to-face meetings?
This is week three, we started in the last week in September.
What have you been up to since then?
The first week we made large marble mazes. The week after that, the weather was looking a bit dicey, so we practised putting up the dining shelters, which we’re going to need repeatedly over the next few weeks. When we got them up, we played with the marble mazes and looked at some camp blankets from people who had left Scouts, then we had to take the shelters down.
This week, the plan was to put the shelter up again and start a mini pioneering project, but the weather was so fab that we just put a tarpaulin down and completed the pioneering! They made pyramids, covered them with tissue paper, and aimed water pistols at them.
I used the webpage to look for activities – especially when we were planning. We’ve concentrated on classic things like pioneering and cooking.
Are you able to include all of your Beavers without splitting into smaller groups?
No, we do two sessions – 12 come and work in three groups of four Beavers, then we repeat it all later in the week. That’s because the other leader has the time – we were planning half of the Beavers every other week, and looked into providing some sort of Scouts at home for the week the Beavers weren’t there, but for us it works better to run it twice a week.
Does it feel anything like a typical Beavers meeting?
Normally we’d have 24 Beavers who are quite energetic when they arrive. It’s only an hour long, with 12 of them, and they can’t play their usual games when they arrive, so that feels different… but once you’re into the activity it feels the same.
What do the young people think about being able to meet face-to-face again?
We’ve got a couple who are nervous and a couple who ask why we can’t do some things; overall, they’re really pleased to be out doing something. If you keep them engaged enough then they don’t miss seeing all of their friends – they come to Beavers to be able to do whatever activities we’re doing.
Have you faced any challenges that you had to overcome?
I asked two Beavers what they’d done over the summer, and each had had a grandparent that had died. Although I knew that that was something that might come up, I wasn’t as prepared as I could’ve been!
We’ve got some resources on bereavement – hopefully they’ll help other groups. How did you find the risk assessments? Have you got any top tips?
I watched the webinar and I read all of the guidance and took notes – then I let myself think about it for a bit. When I met with the other leader, we talked about how we’d do things and then we had half a plan! He just wrote it up while we were sitting there – we’d already got an image of what it would look like in our head.
It feels daunting but I didn’t find that the hardest thing. What I found harder was writing the guidance I sent out to the parents. We didn’t give them an actual risk assessment because it wouldn’t have meaning for them – we created almost like a contract that said what the leaders, parents, and Beavers all needed to do. Where I could, I explained why as well. It was quite a difficult document to write but it’s worked really well.
Providing it stays safe and you remain at the same readiness level, do you think you’ll keep meeting face-to-face as the seasons change?
I haven’t written to the parents yet because I’m waiting until the weather turns, but yes. We shortened our meeting time to an hour, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Beavers to be outside for one hour under a dining shelter. They can wear a coat, a hat, gloves… and we can do things that’ll keep them warm. A night hike is an idea I’m saving for when the weather’s a bit more rubbish.
On nights that are particularly cold, we can have hot chocolates. I’m going to write tips for people too, so they turn up with their coats and hats ready.
What would you say to a leader who wanted to (and could!) go back to face-to-face Scouts but wasn’t quite sure?
It’s really about talking to your team. Until you talk to people about how they feel you don’t know what you can do. That includes young leaders and their parents – they’re really important. It’s a team effort. Once you know what people are comfortable with, you can suggest things and go from there.