When people think of Scouts they usually think of outdoor adventures – camping, lighting fires, hiking and so on. Social distancing has obviously had a big impact on what we can do as Scouts, but that hasn’t stopped us from having fun.

Like groups across Redditch, Scout leaders in Astwood Bank have adapted to run a ‘Scout at home’ programme. We hold weekly online meetings for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts so they can chat, play games and learn vital skills for life. Although we can’t be together in person we’ve still managed to play bingo, brush up our first aid skills, learn to cook a meal and master household tasks such as ironing and washing up.

And camping isn’t completely off the cards either. Last weekend we held a ‘Camp at Home’ where our young people slept inside in dens or outside in tents. Scouts, family members and leaders completed challenges such as preparing (and eating!) afternoon tea, making an aerial runway for a teddy, constructing a self-propelled model car and making a giant marble run. We even tackled a virtual escape room!

Scout Daisy, aged 12 told us what Scouting means to her during these unusual times:

“Lockdown is strange; not being able to see my friends, no school, no holiday, no going to the shops and all the days blend into one. I find myself bored every day, doing the same things on repeat for days on end. However, being part of Scouts is helping my boredom because we have still been doing a lot of fun activities. Every week we discuss what we have done then work on a badge. At the moment we are working on our meteorologist (weather) badge. We have also continued camping – as we can’t camp together as a Troop we camp at home and still earn ‘nights away’!

“I am really happy with what our Troop is doing to keep a bit of normality to this odd time and I am really enjoying all the activities and weekly meetings.”

Daisy’s mum Cath is also grateful for the distraction that Scouting has offered:

“The Astwood Bank Scout leaders have been amazing, coming up with a wide variety of virtual Scout meetings. These have provided opportunities for the young people to keep some semblance of normality and structure, interacting with each other virtually and having fun.  I’m very grateful to all the leaders who have kept Scouting going in a novel form during the pandemic.”

Scout leaders are all volunteers and many of us are continuing to work (albeit differently) during the current crisis. We recognise however, that Scouting provides important structure, familiarity and social connection for children during these unusual times. And feedback from Scouts like Daisy and her mum make it all worthwhile.

Sally Payne, Group Scout Leader, Astwood Bank.