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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 | 13 October 2023

Fuelling the adventure: Scouts and food

Alanah Reid, Creative Content Producer

At Scouts, food’s a huge part of our programme. We whip up new cooking skills by working towards our Cooking badges, help feed our communities by supporting local food banks, and toast gooey marshmallows around our campfires.  

This World Food Day, let’s look back on the history between Scouts and food, and explore how often food ‘crops up’ in our sessions and community work.

Did you know...

Cooking and gardening have been part of our programme since 1908?

Cooking up skills for life

Learning to prepare and cook your own food is certainly a key skill for life.

Whether you’re helping out at home, catering for your group on camp or preparing to look after yourself before leaving home, cooking skills are key to being self-sufficient.

When food was rationed during the Second World War, cooking on camp became a bit more complicated. Scouts were asked to bring their own rations of sugar and recipes were adapted to make use of non-rationed foods, such as rabbit.

As well as using a kitchen safely, learning about hygiene, keeping food fresh, and cooking healthy balanced meals helps young people learn to take care of themselves.

We also learn about different cultures and traditions, depending on the recipes we cook.

And, we can learn about where food comes from. Squirrels learn where fruit and veg comes from, Beavers explore the meaning of Fairtrade, and Cubs think about the environmental impact of our food.

Safety first

As always, remember to take part in cooking activities safely.

Read our guidance on food safety
A group of young Muslim Scouts are wearing their uniform and neckers. One Cub on the left is looking at the others to the right and smiling, with the other three looking down at the food on a table outside. They're stood in front of a fence and there's bread, carrier bags, lettuce and other packets of food on the table. Around the table is a shopping bag and a few backpacks.

Delicious activities

We have plenty of food activities on our activity finder. Whether you fancy whipping up a delicious camp apple crumble, or trying your hand at making Brazilian brigadeiros, you'll find lots of yummy activities from all around the world.

These recipes are perfect for teaching Scouts of all ages vital cooking skills they’ll need for life. They learn to follow recipes, safely prepare ingredients, and cook with the help of their volunteers. This summer, one Cub group learned to make Barbeque banana boats.

Include everyone

Remember, before you try out a recipe in your session, make sure you cater for everyone. Be conscious and respectful of any allergies, dietary requirements and religious beliefs, and make any necessary substitutions.

Four Cubs are stood behind a brown table with mixing bowls, plates, grated cheese and pitta breads in front of them. They're all in uniform and neckers, looking down at their plates. They're busy making pitta pockets.

Spending time together

Coming together at the end of a busy day to enjoy a meal is a key part of a Scouts camp. It’s a chance to chit-chat, reminisce on your day of adventure and bond over how rewarding your meal is after a fun-filled day of activities.

Even before the meal is ready, Scouts and volunteers use their skills and help each other prepare and cook food, making sure everything’s made safely and efficiently.

Toasting marshmallows is a classic camping experience that fills us with fond memories. Volunteers and young people can laugh about how well they’ve toasted their marshmallows – whether they could do with a bit longer over the fire, or whether they’ve melted a bit too much.

Did you know...

Our history of helping feed others goes a long way back? During the Second World War, Scouts helped at rest centres, canteens and refreshment vans.

They supported those who’d lost their homes during the Blitz, as well as members of the Armed Forces, Air Raid Precautions (ARP) wardens, fire brigade and ambulance service – who greatly welcomed a cup of day at the end of a hard shift.

Looking out for each other

As Scouts, we’re always looking for ways we can help others, especially in our local communities. We can do this is by volunteering at, or donating food to, local food banks.

Beaver Scout Henry donated to One Can Trust and earned himself a Chief Scout’s Unsung Hero Award in 2022. Another Scout group visited a food bank to help the volunteers to sort and distribute the food they’d collected.

If you’d like to do the same, our Food matters activity is a brilliant place to start. 

To watch in full screen, double click the video

Her Late Majesty the Queen’s Lying in State

In 2022, Scouts supported more than 250,000 people who queued to pay their respects to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

With visitors waiting in the queue for up to 24 hours, they brought food to eat and blankets to keep warm. But, when they reached Westminster Hall, they had to leave their food and blankets behind.

After the Scouts saw how much food was left, they reached out to the London-based food charity, The Felix Project, to see if they could put the leftover food to good use.

Charlotte Hill, CEO of The Felix Project recalled the moment she got the call about saving the food:

We’ve got all these amazing young volunteers and they’re all saying 'We can’t bear this food being wasted. Is there any way you can come and pick up the food if the Scouts gather it?’ So that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve got a thousand community partners who are food banks, homeless hostels, or domestic violence refuges. We’ll make sure this food gets where it’s needed.

A Scout volunteer who helped out said (at the time): 

People are so happy the food’s going somewhere beneficial, rather than just going into the bin and to landfill. The amount of food we’ve got makes me feel amazing. We’re currently at 80 industrial rubble sacks worth of food, and we’re making sure it’s going to such beneficial causes.

Two volunteers and a young person are crouching down outside near a bonfire. The young person is sat with one volunteer to the left of the image, with the other volunteer on the right helping to hold out a long stick with a marshmallow on a stick. They're safely away from the blaze as they wait for the marshmallow to toast.

Social community occasions

Food is often at the heart of social community occasions, especially for national celebratory events like Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, and the Coronation of King Charles III.

In the UK, we often come together with our communities by hosting street parties.

By making sure there are plenty of alternatives such as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options, everyone can get to know each other and celebrate with delicious treats.

Food for fundraising

Hosting bake sales or running food stalls are fantastic ways to fundraise for your group. Selling cakes your community just can’t resist can help you get the extra pennies you need for your camp, day out, or new equipment.

Remember to note down and show the allergens for any food you’ve prepared for your fundraiser.

Get thinking about food

Remember to check out all our yummy recipe ideas on our Activity finder.

Find your new favourite recipe

Thank you to the Scouts Heritage Service exhibition ‘Growing up, digging deep: the story of Scouts, food and farming’ which gave us plenty of bites of information for this blog.

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