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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 | 18 May 2023

What shapes us makes us: the importance of early years education

Clarissa Frigerio, Programme Delivery Executive (Early Years)

Squirrels is amazing for 4–6-year-olds. All the evidence shows that the skills they learn are fundamental in helping them succeed now and in later life.

Squirrel smiling in a field

We know the benefits of Squirrels 

Squirrels is amazing for 4–6-year-olds. Our independent assessment by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) has said "it has had a positive and sometimes transformative impact on the children's development, especially in the areas of communication and language skills and life skills".

We designed the Squirrels programme based on what we know children love and will help them develop: developing their creativity and curiosity through games, stories, and outdoor adventures. All of this helps young people develop a positive sense of self and gain skills for life. 

And we’re not the only ones 

We’re not the only ones focusing on how early years support gives children the opportunity to thrive. HRH The Princess of Wales, our Joint President, is spearheading the ShapingUs campaign, launched by the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. The aim of ShapingUs is to promote how a wider variety of activities between the ages of 0-8 will help children’s early development.  

During early childhood, from pregnancy to age five, our brains develop at an amazing rate - faster than any other time in our lives

Catherine, Princess of Wales

The ShapingUs campaign is promoting the message that early years education is fundamental to building social connections, developing our sense of self and managing our emotions. 

Watch our video to find out more about how crucial early years are for our brain development.

To watch in full screen, double click the video

Squirrels are fearless, they’ll give anything a go, provided they’re given a chance.

Squirrels Leader

In our first year of Squirrels, 4 and 5-year-olds have tried out things like archery, planting seeds and even started Nights Away. Plus, Squirrels have left their mark on their community. They engaged with local charities to raise money for mental health support, saved local libraries, and were celebrated in their local newspapers. 

The Princess of Wales’ campaign focuses on how early opportunities to make friends, engage with others, and different experiences can help children thrive. Clearly Squirrels is a fantastic place to do this. 

Why Squirrels is needed now more than ever 

A Squirrels Leader from 1st Ancaster said that the opportunity to open a Squirrel Drey in her community has helped Squirrels to socialise and learn new skills. These are critical opportunities that are less available since the pandemic. 

“We're now in a time where many of our Squirrels missed out on really key years of their development due to Covid. We’re seeing very young children more anxious, struggling to socialise and not knowing quite what to do in different situations. Squirrels is so important for young people like this”. 

In other parts of the country, they also noted “not all of our Squirrels are at school or another childcare setting, so being part of Squirrels enables them to gain some independence”. Squirrels helps children connect with nature, work together, and be curious. 

A Squirrel, wearing a red jumper, walks on a climbing frame while holding the hand of a leader.

How you can help us open more Dreys 

To date, we’ve opened 953 Dreys in the UK. If you’re interested in opening a new Drey, you can read about the opportunities and support available on our Running a Squirrel Drey webpage. 

More Dreys on the territory can help us make a greater impact in children lives’ and broader community. 

We are watching our Squirrels grow in confidence, learning how to make friends, how to communicate, express themselves and just be

Squirrels Leader

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