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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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Colony and Pack Visits Abroad

(FS103832) (Published January 2018 replacing version May 2013)

As part of a high quality programme for young people, you may wish to take them overseas with Scouting. It is not expected that all Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts will take part in visit abroad, but this can be a great way to encourage an interest in international travel, explore different cultures and develop understanding in global issues. For some Beavers and Cubs this could be a really exciting first experience of going overseas.

When planning a trip, consideration must be given to the purpose, objectives and value of the visit for the young people. In addition, for younger sections practical arrangements should be considered.

Where to start

When starting to plan for a visit abroad the key considerations would be:

  • Where to go in the world? What would be appropriate for the section?
  • How long for?
  • How to get there? What method of travel would be the easiest to use?
  • Who is going/how many people? Consider ratios of adults to young people
  • What are they going to do? What types of activities? Does the leadership team have these skills or permits?

Below we’ve provided some more detail on these areas.

Where to go?

As part of a youth shaped programme, it’s a great way to ensure that young people help shape their international adventures. Through running a log chew, pack forum or other activities, you can engage young people in their next international destination, programme and adventure.

It's most likely that younger sections will be visiting countries closer to home such as Ireland, Gibraltar, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. All of these locations can be easily accessed by train, air or roads. Look for any places where you can get accommodation and activities together to limit the need to travel once you’ve arrived at your destination or link up with a local group who can support you whilst you are there, maybe visit one of the British Scouting Overseas Groups. You’ll maybe want to have a visit to the location before you take a group, checking out the accommodation a year before can give you a good idea of what it will be like when you are there.

How long for?

When taking younger members abroad the length of visit should be considered, ensuring that it is appropriate for the age of the young people. Day visits are an option if based closed to a ferry or train terminal connected with mainland Europe, Ireland or weekend activities which can utilise cheap flight travel too. For Cubs or family activities 4-5 day trips would be perfect for exploring slightly further afield.

How to get there?

The mode of travel chosen is really important to ensure that you don’t spend too much time travelling compared to the length of the stay. The mode of travel will also affect how far you can go, cost and what you can do once there.

If you're taking a small group then train or plane is a great option as this can be quite quick but easier to manage with small groups rather than big ones.

For larger groups then a coach can provide a good solution, this will contain the group throughout the journey and provide a method of travel once at your destination, allowing you to explore your local area.

Who is going/how many people?

When planning a visit abroad it is important to consider and plan for appropriate adult to young people ratio. Considerations should be made for supporting the young people whilst travelling to the country but also while in country. This could mean that a higher adult ratio be required than for a normal section meeting or nights away activities. It may be that you choose to offer this as a family nights away activity so that the young people travel with their families, but provision should also be made for any young person whose family cannot attend, assigning them a leader or young leader to be supported by.

Leaders may wish to therefore limit the group size so that they can give appropriate supervision to those attending, this may mean that this becomes an opportunity for older members of the section or those who are close to achieving their top awards.

All volunteers should make reasonable adjustments where possible to support all young people with disabilities to access Scouting.
Reasonable adjustments should respond to the needs of the individual young person and aim to remove any barriers or support access, by making changes to;

  • Physical environment (e.g. the meeting place)
  • The way things are done (e.g. age range flexibility, the Programme, routines)
  • The support provided (e.g. equipment, adapting communication, the level of support)

These considerations should be explored in detail, in consultation with the young person’s parents/carers.

What are they going to do?

A visit abroad for younger members could be their first experience of another country, so a destination that both the leaders and parents are comfortable with is an important factor.  

Think about what activities you are going to do whilst you are there, is this a tourist visit to find out about a country and so you will want to be in a village or town where the young people can experience the culture or is this a trip to undertake a certain activity, or event, etc.

If possible linking up with local Scouts, either from the local community or UK Scouts who live overseas is a great idea and can offer some extra support to the leaders.

Time to plan

Once you have an outline of your plan you will need to get this approved by your District Commissioner and Assistant County Commissioner - International (or equivalent) using part A of the Visits Abroad form.

Your ACC - International should be able to provide you with support and information throughout your planning phase and could link you up with others who have done a similar thing before.

You’ll need to sort out the finances, budgeting for the trip, getting buy in from the young people and parents and getting costings from suppliers. As part of this you will need to consider how the trip will be funded, what fundraising are the group going to do, are any of the young people in a position of hardship and so further funding needs to be applied for?

You’ll need to check that all those going have a current passport and European Health Insurance Card. And as a group you have appropriate travel insurance for the trip and activities you intend to do. Unity's Overseas Travel Insurance policy is available for 24, 48 and 96 hours. In addition cover is available for longer periods. Details are available from Unity Insurance.

Before the trip

As part of the weekly programme, you may wish to explore the country that you are visiting. You could undertake a number of activities that explores the country’s cultures, traditions, geography, foods or scouting

During the trip

As leaders running these trips it is important to enjoy yourself as well as ensuring that the young people have a great experience, so here are some top tips to helping your trip run smoothly:

  • Give all young people a wrist band or card with contact details of the leader in charge, remember to put your contact number with the international dialing code and if possible in both English and the local language.
  • Assign each young person to a leader, this will help you break the group up into manageable groupings. These leaders should be responsible for keeping together with their young people and checking their wellbeing and safety.
  • Set up a way of keeping parents informed if they are not with you, this may be updates on a social media group or regular texts. Make sure that the parents also understand the InTouch system you have in place and what to do in an emergency.
  • Have lots planned, this includes activities to keep the group occupied on the journey, during the visit and some as a backup in case of delays.

When you return

Throughout the trip and on your return review with both the leadership team and the young people. Find out what they liked and disliked and what they may like to do next.