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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

The programme

The programme

We’re really excited to share the Squirrels programme with you!

Each badge is packed with wow and wonder, perfect for anyone who’s ever asked ‘Why?’ (or ‘Why not?’). You’ll tell stories and play games. Get active and explore the outdoors. Become a brilliant builder and a super chef. There’s something for everyone – and that means that there’s something for you.

When designing the badges and activities for Squirrel Scouts, our goal was to create: 

  • an age-appropriate programme,
  • that meets the Theory of Change,
  • and is respected by Early Years practitioners,
  • without compromising our Scout values, ​ 
  • which encourages community and home learning,​ 
  • and works in areas of deprivation and for diverse ethnic communities. 

To do this, we wrote, tested and updated a programme proposal with nearly 400 people to create badges full of adventure, fun, and, of course, skills.

  • parents of three-to-five year olds in IMD1-3 regions across the UK,
  • parents of three-to-five year olds in all London boroughs,
  • the Centre for Research in Early Childhood,
  • children's charities like Coram,​
  • early years practitioners,
  • current Drey leaders in Northern Ireland,
  • adult volunteers in Scouting.
The Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Go Wild and Feel Good Activity Badges along the arm of a red Squirrel Scout jumper, with the Chief Scout's Acorn Award across the heart.
A selection of Squirrels badges shown on the Squirrels jumper.

We learned a lot!

65% wanted

the Squirrels programme to follow a similar format to the older sections, with Activity Badges and Challenge Awards leading to a Top Award.

73% thought

it was achievable (whilst still appropriately challenging) for Squirrels to gain their Top Award by earning all Challenge Awards and one or two Activity Badges.

89% agreed

that our proposed Challenge Awards (themed to teamwork, citizenship, personal development, outdoors and adventure) are achievable, age-appropriate, relevant and exciting, have the right number of requirements, make it easy to plan sessions around, and develop a good range of skills and outcomes.

90% felt

that our proposed Activity Badges (covering topics like cooking, exploring, building, safety and creativity) are achievable, age-appropriate, relevant and exciting, have the right number of requirements, make it easy to plan sessions around, and develop a good range of skills and outcomes.

Using these insights and feedback, we designed a curriculum consisting of:

  • 12 Activity Badges
  • four Challenge Awards
  • a Top Award
  • a Membership Award
  • a Joining In Award
  • a Moving On Award

We also decided that Squirrels would be able to earn Staged Activity Badges.

Research showed that direct and absolute badge requirements constrict leaders’ ability to plan and deliver an inclusive and engaging programme for their section. This led to the programme being more flexible so that leaders can tailor to their young people, speak to them how they want to tackle badges/awards and use our guidance to action that. 

The badges have similar themes to Beavers, but are written and focused slightly differently to give that differentiation between the two sections. This change in phrasing also encourages participation over achievement; keeping the group learning through play, exploration and imagination at its heart.

  • Each requirement has an initial supporting statement, which helps define what we want the young person to achieve when they do this badge.These are open and flexible to suit the needs of everyone and their meeting place.
  • “You could” or “Think about” sections underneath requirements support leaders by giving them ideas of what they could do.

Take a sneak peek

Explore Outdoors Activity Badge

The world is full of exciting things for you to discover. Work together to get ready, go on an adventure, and share what you find. Who knows where you’ll end up?

  • Explore your local park with a fresh pair of eyes as you search for items to craft Park life portraits.
  • Create Mud mugs by connecting with the earth and getting stuck into the mud as you make a fantastic face sculpture.
  • Spice up mealtimes in the outdoors by Tracking down dinner. Lay trails and search for treat tokens in this tasty tracking trial.
  • Explore before you arrive with Location fixation, using a map and your imagination to find yourself in new places.
  • Build a miniature raft with twigs and leaves, then set sail. Will your Teeny tiny twig rafts float successfully away?
Feel Good Activity Badge

We look after our bodies by doing things like brushing our teeth and eating different foods. Have you ever thought about how we look after our minds? Get stuck in and learn about three ways to take care of yourself and your brain.

  • Fold your way to feeling better with Feel good chatterboxes.
  • Set your taste buds moving with Groovy smoothies, as you whip up delicious and healthy drinks.
  • Head outside, take a deep breath, and pay attention to the moment as you connect to the natural world on a Mindfulness walk.
  • Use your fingers to create reflections, then Link up a paper chain of them.
  • Be inspired and be an inspiration in the Hobby-go-round.
All Together Challenge Award

We can do so much more with great friends. Work together to play games, make choices, and learn to be the best friend you can be.

  • You’re hovering on a Magic carpet, when you realise it’s upside down. Can you flip it over without anyone falling off?
  • You’ll have to sneak and tiptoe to get the map – but Don’t wake the pirate. Will you succeed first time, or try, try again?
  • Work together, use trial and error, and listen to your team to find the only way across The spotty dotty road.
  • You’ll have to work as a team to roll the ball To me, to you across the parachute.
  • Work as a team to create one story together with Circle storytelling – the more ideas, the better.

Want to be a Scout? Find your local group