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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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Blog | 29 November 2022

Squirrel superheroes: Celebrating Squirrels giving back to their communities

Clarissa Frigerio, Programme Delivery Executive (Early Years)

Read about Squirrels carrying out youth social action projects and start planning your own.

‘Try to leave this world a little better than you found it.’ At Scouts, we live by this quote, and Squirrels is no exception.

Community impact is central to the Squirrel programme, and our target is to encourage our Dreys to deliver a high quality youth social action.

It may sound challenging and daunting: Can four and five year olds carry out meaningful youth social action projects? And what is youth social action, really?

Seven Squirrels in uniform and neckers stand in front of a tree trunk holding leaves in their hands

Youth social action

Youth social action refers to activities that young people do (in this case, Squirrels) to make a positive difference to others or the environment.

Youth social action is sometimes known by other names, such as social action, community impact, or activism, but the fundamentals are the same. ​These activities help Squirrels build and strengthen their character, skills for life, and confidence from an early age.

Youth social action numbers at a glance

  • 106 stories detailing community impact projects
  • 139 Young Leaders involved in planning and delivering youth social action
  • 1182 Squirrels involved

Little people, big change

A Squirrel volunteer told us her Squirrels learned about global warming and what they can do to protect the environment. ‘We’ve been litter picking and joined a local conservation group to look after a local woodland. The Squirrels raised £50 to purchase an oak tree to plant in the woods.’

A Squirrel and her sister (who is a Beaver) recently completed the Snowdonia Slate Trail and raised over £1,000 for their two local Mountain Rescue Teams.

A group raised money for children with mental health issues and to buy Christmas presents for children in hospital over Christmas 2022. They raised £974 across all their sections. Impressively, Squirrels raised a significant amount of that.

How to start planning your youth social action project​

Badges help Squirrels be curious and creative about their surroundings. Working towards the Local Superhero badge means Dreys can learn about people who look after their community, and lend them a hand.

One Drey learned about firefighters, created ‘thank you’ notes, and went to the local fire station to give them to firefighters.

Every badge lets you do something meaningful for your community. A Squirrel volunteer shared with us ‘We started with the All about Me Challenge Award and looked at what made us happy individually. We used the story 'Rainbow Fish' to talk about how making others happy can make us happy too.’

The following week, Squirrels decided to visit the local care home, sang songs, and shared pictures and games.

It’s important that youth social action projects are youth-led, meaning they’re designed and led by young people. It may be hard at first to ask young children what they’d like to focus on.

Our Squirrel leader and cohort coach, Toby, said his Drey began collecting and donating food for the local food bank. Once, a Squirrel saw a lady at the supermarket buying tin cans and asked ‘What is the lady doing with a can?’ The Squirrels then learned about shelf products, and what the long-lasting food and products at the supermarket are. This all stemmed from one child’s curiosity to learn more.

A Squirrel leader from Plymouth said she holds ‘democratic votes’ with her Drey. Recently, the Drey was involved in a community project, and she asked the Squirrels if they preferred to fundraise by running a cake sale or a wash cars (naturally, Squirrels loved the cake sale!)

When our leader, Toby, asked her Young Leader why she loves doing youth social action, she said ‘because it puts a smile on people’s faces.’ Young Leaders can are positive role models for Squirrels, and can empower them to make the world a better place.

A Squirrel volunteer told us ‘Our Young Leader helped Squirrels litter pick around their meeting place. He helped deliver a game to make the Squirrels aware of street mess.’ This could be a part of their Young Leader Missions, or be included in their Community Impact staged badges.

Our A Million Hands webpage can help you identify a cause, and you can download ready-to-go activities, stories, and games to do with your Squirrels.

Your community actions with Squirrels

Squirrels are making a meaningful impact in their communities, and we want to tell the world about it. Once you carry out your youth social project, let us know so we can be inspired by your actions!

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