A year ago England went into Lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus. Scouting, of course, followed and we all had to stop face to face meetings. Within hours the Explorer Unit organised their first online meeting and didn’t miss a beat with their programme. The other sections followed suit in the following weeks and by May everyone was meeting online weekly.
The programme had to be adapted to online activities, as we could not do things together. The leaders had to develop new skills and new ideas that would work on-line. A variety of activities took place over zoom, treasure hunts, quizzes, scavenger hunts, escape rooms, map reading skills, knotting, etc.
Although we could not physically meet as a group we did hold some whole group activities. We celebrated VE Day and the NHS Birthday and held an afternoon tea party in all our gardens.
We help our own St George celebration and renewed our promises together.
Along with these the Group sent out some hikes for members to do in their family bubbles. It was great to see all the photos of families out walking.
Fortunately, at the end of July we could return to a very restricted face to face meetings. Firstly, we had to write a COVID-19 specific risk assessment including how we were social distancing, Cleansing of the members and the kit used. Once this was authorised, the Beavers, Cubs and Explorers were back, social distanced, meeting.
The biggest restriction for our group, as it was for all scout groups throughout England, was that we were only allow 15 people in one meeting, what do the sections do?
- carry on meeting on zoom until we can meet all together,
- half a section meets alternate weeks,
- have meet face to face, half on zoom
- both halves of the section meet, but in different locations.
- Both halves of the section meet, but on different days.
- Keep numbers below 15 to keep the whole section together
Our Scout Leaders took the decision to wait until the whole scout troop could meet together and carried on with zoom meetings.
The Explorer Scouts again were the first to move and return to face to face meetings and met throughout the summer holiday and into September without a break. Their meetings had to be split into two due to their numbers, and the returned to some knife whittling and a hike around Buchan Country Park, this was followed by some fire lighting, extreme clothes drying, and other social distancing activity.
Our paddlesport instructors made the most of the summer months and the scouts and explorers were back on the water twice a week throughout August and September (see here for more details)
The Beaver Scouts held a pilot meeting during August to test the procedures, before both Beaver Scout colonies and both Cub Scout packs returned in September for ‘live’ meetings. In September there was several young people invested into their sections as they had joined through lockdown. The meetings involved lots of ‘scouting skills’; Hikes, tent pitching, pioneering along with conkers, chip shop hikes.
Unfortunately, in November we had to briefly return to on-line meetings as England returned to lockdown, which also included our Remberance Sunday Service which had be done whilst lockdown.
Fortunately by the end of the month we were back to face to face meetings, which meant we could celebrate Christmas at section meetings.
The Group carol service was an on-line as we could still only meet in groups up to 15 young people, and the church was closed. The service still involved the young people telling the Christmas story.
Again, straight after Christmas England went into full lockdown again, and all the sections returned to zoom again. More activities were held over zoom with a special week where every section made pancakes.
Our annual Mothering Sunday service in 2021 again was held on-line involving young people with readings and prayers.
Apart from the young people meeting on-line our executive committee have had to meet on-line to keep up the management of the group, and we have now held two group annual review meetings on-line.
The great news is hopefully England now has a road map for coming out of lockdown. The Scout Association has also set up a return to face to face meetings, and as from the end of March we are allowed to return to outdoor (socially distancing) meeting. Some of the sections have meetings planned for the week before Easter whilst the others will be returning after Easter. We cannot wait to see the faces of the young people as the see each other again.
As a group we are especially lucky to have a great team of leaders who have work tirelessly to provide scouting to our young people, enough to see our membership, both young members and leaders, has grown slightly over the year. We are also privileged to have our own Scout Active Support Unit whose members have stepped in and helped when required, when the leadership team was split between two meetings to keep the numbers to restrictions in place. Special mention to our Explorer leaders who have provided meeting virtual every week since the first lockdown.
The Group expresses they’re thanks to all the Leaders, for their hard work and commitment to the group and providing Scouting to the young people during this strange past year.