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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
Story | 04 July 2022

Young volunteers leading the way with Squirrels


With our new Squirrels section, we’re reaching even more young people.

It’s not just our new members of four and five-year-olds we’re reaching, either. Squirrels creates even more brilliant opportunities for Young Leaders to join Scouts.

Young Leaders play an important role in any section. They help run activities alongside our adult volunteers, and make sure everyone’s safe and happy.

There are 366 Young Leaders supporting Squirrels, making up 19% of all Squirrels volunteers. In Beavers, 24% of the volunteers in each section are Young Leaders, so Squirrels is quickly catching up.  

We spoke to a few Young Leaders to find out why Squirrels is great from their perspectives.

Young leader reading a Squirrels story to young people

Lois, 16, a Young Leader at Squirrels in 25th Braid

 ‘I’ve been in Scouts from Beavers through to Explorers, but I wanted to help with something different. Because Squirrels is so new, I thought there wouldn’t be many people to help.

 ‘I wanted to learn how to support young people, as it’s not something you learn without experiencing it. I love the variety of things you can do and learn while helping Squirrels, and everyone is so happy and excited to be there.’

‘I ran a session on first aid, which refreshed my knowledge and developed my skills, too. For instance, if someone skipped the queue and upset another person, I tried to help while making sure the rest of the group stayed safe and could continue, and I checked no one was left out.’

‘Squirrels has helped me get better at problem-solving, communication, creativity, self-awareness, and working in a team – that’s been important when coordinating who’s doing what, when, and where.’

‘I’ve been contributing ideas at planning meetings and we’re working towards lots of different badges, like the navigation and community helper badges. Each session has a storytelling element to introduce the topic. We always read a story at the start, which gets everyone settled and ready – it’s part of our routine.’

‘It’s so nice to help other young people who you don’t meet at school. It’s about seeing the real world. I’d encourage anyone to join if they wanted to, it’s really fun.’

It’s great to be a Young Leader in Squirrels, because you get to do something for your community. It’s about giving something back.

A group of Squirrels are playing on a patch of grass in front of a wall. They are playing a running came and all looking over to the right. They are all wearing red jumpers with blue neckers and have big smiles. There are four boys and three girls and they're all having lots of fun. One girl is even holding a rainbow umbrella!

Ace, 16, a Young Leader from 54th Portsmouth

‘I used to be a Young Leader at Beavers, but I was told I could be great with Squirrels, too. I joined as a Squirrels Young Leader back in 2019, when we were testing to see if Scouts could work for a younger age group. I’m really interested in child developmental psychology, so I thought it’d help me further my knowledge in that area.’

‘Squirrels is great for young children, as we’re able to educate them at their prime developmental ages. We help them learn motor skills and vocal recall skills to give them a boost in school. If we educate young people more at a younger age, less issues will come up for them in the future. The social skills they develop are important, too.’

You see such diversity. People come together from different walks of life and backgrounds and form bonds. If they have any issues at home, they can get away, come to Squirrels, and be themselves.

‘I’m always the one who reads stories at the beginning of sessions. I think the children feel more comfortable with a younger face. Last week, we had a donation of Lego to help with their creative badges.

 ‘The children did their Lego designs themselves in groups, with an adult supervising each group. I went round all the groups, and I helped them fill out their engineers manual with their ideas and designs.’

‘Before I was a Young Leader, I was quite unconfident and bad at public speaking. Now, after going through Young Leader training and getting involved, I’m much more confident and I’m speaking publicly where I can.’

‘I’m not sure what I want to do in the future, but child development will be one of my choices for college. If I don’t do that, I’ll learn more in the background, as I’ve always loved this topic.’

A female Scout volunteer is crouched down in the woodland with three Squirrel Scouts, one boy and two girls. They are looking at and holding leaves. One girl is showing a leaf to the leader, who is talking and pointing at part of the leaf.

Millie, 16, a Young Leader at Squirrels in 1st Callington

‘I wasn’t in Scouts when I was younger. My little brother started Squirrels and they were looking for Young Leaders, so I decided to try it out.

 ‘I’m currently home-schooled and I’m deciding whether I want to work in a nursery, so going to Squirrels helps me talk to a younger age group and get used to how they think.’

‘I like that it’s hands-on, and we do practical things with them – things they’ll need later in life. We made cupcakes a few weeks ago – it was quite messy, but very fun! We do lots of different activities, and I help to instruct the activities with mini groups. We’re working towards lots of different badges.’

‘I regret not doing the activities when I was younger, but it’s fun helping them. I’ll definitely stay with Squirrels, and maybe try out other sections, too.’

It’s good that being a Young Leader in Squirrels helps both of our futures – mine, and the young people.

A massive thank you to all of the young leaders and adult volunteers running Squirrels – we think you’re amazing. We know you’re making a huge difference to the lives of little four and five-year-old Squirrels all over the country, helping them develop the skills they’ll need as they go through life.

If you’re a Squirrel Young Leader, or know someone who is, this is for you

We’re running Squirrels Young Leader events on 12 and 14 July, and we have exciting evenings planned.

We’ll share a brand new resource to help young leaders in their roles, support them in spreading the word of Scouts, and give them the chance to create a brand new activity.

We’ll also talk about what's next for Young Leaders if they’re off to university, or embarking on another adventure in the New Year.

Sign up to the list to find out more details
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