OUT & ABOUT
Scouts Race Round the World
Bear Grylls, The Scout Association's Chief Scout, challenged Scouting nationwide to take part in a Race Around the World during December, to raise funds for Groups that were struggling as a result of the Covid crisis. Four teams, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorer Scouts, each led by different celebrity Scouting Ambassadors, were challenged to walk, cycle, kayak, skateboard or use any other means of travel, to complete a journey equivalent to a race around the world. Although it was a team challenge, social-distancing guidance meant that participants had to complete the challenge individually with support from an adult family member.
Whilst taking part in the challenge there were a number of complementary activities, provided by scout associations worldwide, which enabled participants to learn more about different countries and their cultures.
Collectively across the UK Beavers, Cubs and Scouts travelled over 150,000 miles and raised £330,000. 6th Gainsborough Sea Scouts took part in the race, covering a distance of 757 miles and raising £534 for the Scout Recovery Fund. Those that took part were out in all weathers and had great fun. Ben said, "I liked getting outside, exercising, litter picking and getting very muddy." Elsie thought, "jumping in puddles and riding my bike through mud was great fun" and Grace "enjoyed being out on my bike and spending time with my family." They have all received a digital certificate and will be presented with a commemorative badge as soon as we are able to resume face to face meetings.
Jonathan Swatton, 6th Gainsborough Sea Scouts
Sea Scouts Sign Off with a Christmas Craft Day
What better way to end a crazy year, and to meet the challenge of continuing to operate in the face of Covid, than to hold an outdoor Craft Day at our HQ? Twenty-seven members, divided into three separate sessions, joined in the socially-distanced action and each of the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts went home with a bag of handmade goodies. The projects on offer were a decorated bottle lamp, illuminated with battery operated LEDs, snowmen made from a stuffed sock or from a candy cane and marshmallows decorated with sweets, a snowflake from lollypop sticks, mini bobble hats and a fir cone elf.
This was the culmination of a year which saw us adapt to digital meetings during lockdown. Using Zoom, a varied programme of science experiments, microwave mug cakes, crafts, quizzes, puzzles and online specials were put together. These specials introduced our Beavers, Cubs and Scouts to magic, astronomy and forensic fingerprinting provided by enterprising experts who have set up online businesses.
Between lockdowns we returned to face to face Scouting with meetings outdoors in the grounds of our HQ. Activities included cooking, fitness challenges, constructing models, the phonetic alphabet, disability awareness, and games all carried out according to social distancing guidelines. These were well attended and there was great disappointment when we had to end them and return to Zoom. Our Craft Day helped to overcome this disappointment and a great day was had by all. We went back to Zoom in January, interspersed with some outdoor sessions, so that our members can continue to work towards their Chief Scout’s Challenge Awards.
Jonathan Swatton, 6th Gainsborough Sea Scouts
I am a parent – I cannot tie my shoelaces!
I write this as an adult volunteer but in all seriousness, this is a reminder to all us 'Parent Scouters' and for you to show your parents to prove that volunteering is neither scary nor time consuming; not if you do not want it to be.
When I was younger, I wanted to be in Brownies (my only option) but I never got to be because my mum couldn’t afford the uniform. The want to join such an organisation stayed with me until, when in 2017, I was offered a place at Beavers for my son. I jumped at the chance and in around eight months he will be off to Scouts.
All Scout Groups are different, with different needs but none will turn down the offer of help if it is on a plate. From 2017 to 2019 I went from Treasurer to Assistant Beaver Leader, Beaver Leader and Group Scout Leader, Training Adviser and Area Trainer! I am one of those 'parents' who know nothing about Scouting, can’t tie their own shoelaces and haven’t a clue about some Geezer called Bear Grylls, let alone that old bloke Baden Powell. Of course, I jest, but there is a serious note to my tomfoolery. Many parents stay away from Scouting because they are nervous, they do not want to look stupid, get found out that they do not know anything, they will never be as good as 'Bill' the Scout Leader or such like. As Leaders we know this is not true and we will snap anyone’s hand off who is willing to fold a raffle ticket but joining Scouts is daunting.
It is quite possible, now we are over on the dark side, we have forgotten how it feels to be a 'normal parent' and the immeasurable anxiety people can experience when they are faced with the unknown. As a Group Scout Leader, I still feel this anxiety and I am sure I will soon be found out that I am no good at my role. In fact, I will tell you a secret which is purely between you and me: I pulled out of the District Training Team because I would look stupid next to 'those people' who knew so much more than me. It is human to perceive our own ability as doubtful and inadequate. It is easier to stay away than look stupid. The voice in our head can be extremely loud and powerful and I still refuse to join the Training Team!
I doubt myself all the time, worry about what I am doing, are people laughing at me, pointing and poking? To be fair, they probably are, but then, does it matter if, at the end of the day, I am doing something which is not only helping my child but is also helping other children too? It does not really matter that I do not know how to tie my shoelaces (ok, I’ll give you that one, I do really) because Scouting is about family. There will always be people who know more than someone else and there will be those that have differing opinions about the way Scouting is evolving but no one will ever discredit anyone for joining in and doing what they are doing; helping young people develop #skillsforlife.
We all rationalise our reasons for not joining but we genuinely are flexible in our approach to volunteering. I dispel, with immediate effect, the adage that 'it is only an hour a week', some things go right through me and this saying, which people say, trying to be funny, really rattles my spine! Of course volunteering is not an hour a week, shockingly it can be less but, to be frank, it can be more too. As Group Scout Leaders we are not looking for the next Superman or Woman, we are looking for people who can be Raffle Ticket folders, Hotdog Cookers, Kit Karters as well as those who want to experience the joy of Scouting from a Leadership point of view and put a little extra in. You are all very welcome.
I empathise with those that do not have enough time, work long hours or shifts, who are single parents or carers for their elderly relatives, have taken on Life-long Learning and the plethora of reasons people have. Do not be ashamed or feel insignificant because of your responsibilities but I want to take this opportunity to turn these apprehensions on their head.
Think of volunteering in Scouts as 'their achievements are your achievements'. If the Scout Group hit their fundraising target because you stood at the bottle tombola and sold the tickets, then you are amazing. We thank you for the couple of hours you gave, and we all know, you will go home feeling amazing. It did not matter a hoot that you work long hours and had to go and cook dinner for your elderly relative because you still nailed it. Ironically, by giving up some time and by doing something you would not ordinarily do, you found time for yourself and felt good in the process. If every week you see the children laughing and having fun but know you can only chip in every third week, then come and chip in then. We will not ask you to take the Scouts on a hike and teach them navigation skills (well not unless you are an orienteering expert, of course), but we were grateful that you could assist us managing the safety of our young people and by giving us a hand with the little jobs. On that third week you gave a hand, you went home feeling like you had been of benefit and secretly you watched 'Bill' the Scout Leader and what he did. You went home to watch some YouTube videos on Sheet Bends underneath your duvet. It’s cool, I’ve done it too!
I joined when my second child was three weeks old, I was breast feeding, knackered, did not know what time of day or day of the week it was but I wanted my son to achieve so I chipped in when I could, then I chipped in a bit more and now I might have even put an application in to join a UK wide team, but that is another secret!
My point to all of this is, it really does not matter what your circumstances are the flexibility and support all Scouters give every other Scouter is something which we are all proud of.
Do not be afraid of the voice in your head that tells you are you are not good enough or you will never have the time, or the damn Devil that tells you, you will be made to do things you have no idea about because, I believe in you. I will be the first person to stand by your side and say, 'it will be ok'.
All of us 'Parent Scouters' crossed the threshold into the unknown, some of us were excited, some nervous and some doing it because they thought they should (let’s be honest) but we all crossed it, and we are still alive!
We all start at point A and it does not matter how far you get along your alphabet journey because now YOUR achievements become THEIR achievements.
Sam (of the female flavour) Gregory, Group Scout Leader - Buckley St Matthew’s Scout Group, Flintshire, Clwyd, North Wales
Scouts Doorstep Remembrance
Whilst the news was announcing the new President of the USA, the Scouts of Luton were showing their respect for the men and women who died in WWI, WWII and through the years to modern times serving their country.
2020 proved difficult for society with lockdowns due to Covid-19 that stopped many face-to-face activities but Luton Scouts found a way of showing respect for the two-minute silence.
Young people including our newest six-year-old Beaver Scout, Cub, Scouts, Explorers and adults paid their respects on their front doorsteps or in their gardens.
A spokesperson said, "Scouting is part of Luton's local community. Normally Scout Groups would attend remembrance services and memorials across Luton on Remembrance Sunday supporting their local communities. Most of us are fortunate that our fathers and grandfathers returned from war but this gives us a chance to remember the men who never had the opportunity to be fathers and grandfathers.”
A new era begins at Sapcote in Leicestershire
Back in 1977, Sapcote Scouts moved into a new era when a second-hand cedar wood building was acquired and erected on the village playing fields, with a new purpose built kitchen and toilets. This has served the village Scouts well, but was becoming 'very tired.'
Fast forward forty years and with housing developments within the village, section 106 funding was earmarked to refurbish this well-used building. However, before this was accomplished a further development of about one hundred houses by David Wilson Homes (DWH) was planned. This development was attracting much more section 106 funding and a plot of land, originally offered to a local medical practice, was available, and offered to us to provide a new scouting facility for the village.
I, as the Group Scout Leader, had no option but to support this development, although it did meet some contention from several corners of the village.
Following outline planning permission, and after an initial meeting with DWH, I felt all our Christmases had arrived at once.
It has been slow process, not helped by the wording of the section 106 agreement which just stated that DWH would 'provide us with a new Scout HQ.'
Early drawings were for a two story building with bunk house accommodation to allow for sleepover weekends, a facility lacking within the District.
Unfortunately this proved to be outside of the budget of approximately £260,000 and although we made several grant applications, raising funds for a building which was not yet built proved impossible.
Some three years down the line, and still pursuing all the options, a meeting with DWH and one of their technical planners resulted in a set of drawings which proved to be a suitable compromise. They offered a first class facility that would secure the future of scouting within the village.
By now we had been granted some further section 106 funding, increasing our budget to just over £300,000 and, although the project was still slightly over budget, DWH had no option but to build it so as to satisfy their section 106 commitment.
In July 2019, the housing development now complete, our work commenced. The project was expected to take about eight months notwithstanding any winter stoppage due to the weather and of course then the Covid 19 pandemic.
Our building is now complete, the legal documents all signed and exchanged, and we have full use of the building. We now have a facility with a substantial hall with underfloor heating, a first class kitchen, a meeting room, ample storage for day to day use and a twenty-five square metre loft to store our camping equipment. Outside we have a secure grassed area and a car park.
Whilst the building is primarily for Scout use the Brownies and Rainbows will also be moving in. We already have 'Twins at Totstime' moving with us along with a very active judo group and a dementia care group. Negotiations for a post natal care group are well underway.
With the building in place we have now secured a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery to furnish with new tables, chairs, crockery and the like.
I returned to Scouting in 1989 after helping out at a camp when my son was a cub. (He now has a son in the Scouts!) I never anticipated the 'two hours a week' would result in thirty years of enjoyment, seeing so many youngsters develop into first class citizens and many continuing as leaders in the movement. With our new Scout Centre I can honestly say, when I decide to 'hang up my woggle' I will have left Sapcote with a facility that should serve our group, and the wider community, for many years to come.
So the next era of scouting in Sapcote begins. My only regret - this project was instigated by the Clerk to the Parish Council, Mike Guntrip. Mike retired early in 2020, a former Scout and a supporter of scouting in Market Bosworth, but sadly died before seeing the project complete. May he Rest in Peace.
Mick Angrave, GSL, 1st Sapcote Scout Group
A Pirate’s Life for Us
Since our regular face-to-face scouting was paused back in March, 14th West Lothian Scout Group's beavers have shown amazing digital talents by joining online Zoom meetings each week instead, but we could not contain our excitement when our latest risk assessments were approved which meant that our annual beaver sleepover could include some outdoor fun together. At the 14th we have one ‘big’ sleepover each year for the whole colony with around twenty activities which we plan around a central theme for extra fun. This year’s theme was pirates and from the feedback received by parents it did not disappoint!
Our motley crew of nineteen beavers and five leaders assembled in the local woodland on Saturday 3rd October. We worked together in small teams searching for parrots in the treetops to reveal our theme. There was a cannonball battle, hunting for (natural) treasures and ‘climbing the rigging’ with a blindfold rope trail. Even in the middle of Storm Alex there were no tears, ships sunk or beavers overboard. An excitable crew was sent home with a ‘booty bag’ full of odd items (needed for the crafts / activities), a 24-page ‘logbook’ full of activities and a souvenir mug!
Once home and dry (literally) the adventures continued online making our own pirate hats and telescopes (with leaders having a bit of fun by giving everyone piratey names on their Zoom screens). Then it was off to the galley to make our dinner – pizza in a mug and a fruity pirate ship pudding… YUM!
We played some screen games (including Captain Greybeard Says – the pandemic has had an effect on his ageing process) before using teabags to make our own parchment paper and having fun with a fact or fiction quiz. Who knew pirates really DID wear an eyepatch all the time so they could quickly swap it over to see below deck in the dark? Our local hero, ‘Campfire Craig’ led a virtual campfire with a mixture of themed songs and some of our old favourites while dancing in his back garden in the rain (yep, his neighbours are used to it).
We battened down the hatches by screen-sharing a bedtime story called A New Home for a Pirate, read by Matt Baker of The One Show fame.
We warmed ourselves up for more fun on Sunday morning by joining Peg Leg’s stretching exercises class before getting crafty again creating rafts to float in our baths (or kitchen sinks) from corks, elastic, skewers and plastic sails. There was time for a quick game of Bones’ Bingo before we recovered our tea-stained parchment to draw our own real or imaginary treasure maps (X marks the spot!).
Finally it was time to hoist the flag and we held our Scouts' Own gathering in the woods with beavers bringing along their own treasure chest (the cardboard box which had carried their mug), showing each other what their precious treasures were and why it was precious to them which sometimes was because of who had given it to them, or a memory it evoked. Then we played some socially-distanced games with hula hoop islands and following the leader actions before challenging ourselves to a bit of target practice, the grand finale of which can only be described as a mash-up of pétanque and conkers. Before setting sail back home beavers finished their swashbuckling with a breadstick ‘swordfight’ leaving a rare treat for the birds to feast on.
Batten down the hatches land-lubbers, there’s a storm a-brewin'!
"Squirrel, Otter, Rabbit & Bear"
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