By Andrew Phelps, 1st Stoke Gifford Scouts.
Since lockdown began and face-to-face scouting was halted throughout the UK, the 1st Stoke Gifford Old School Rooms (OSR) Scouts have met regularly on Zoom (the videoconferencing app), where they’ve done loads of activities from baking, cooking, model making, Kahoot quizzes, bingo, scavenger hunts, beauty techniques, origami, introducing pets, finger signing and pancake making – to name but a few.
The troop has also been set weekly challenges like bird feeders, bug hotels, mini-golf course, paper mache masks, knot boards, junk model robots, musical instruments, tallest newspaper tower, cake bake off competitions and also camping overnight and at weekends.
Altogether the troop has held 25 sessions. Most have gone well over the 40 minutes Zoom allows for a single session. On occasions, we have even gone into a third 40-minute session, with leaders just restarting the meeting again and again.
The Scouts have researched edible fruits and berries available within their neighbourhoods, investigated the burn qualities of types of wood found nearby, taken part in photo scavenger hunts around the village and attempted various dice and card challenges.
At the start of lockdown, the troop conducted eight investitures and three of the older Scouts have since achieved their Gold Chief Scouts Awards. Loads of other badges have also been completed. But the main thing is the troop has stayed in contact, doing fun and wacky things to keep everyone’s minds off the strange times we find ourselves in. Not every troop member has been involved every week, but during the five months there have only been four or five of the 40 Scouts in the troop who haven’t logged in and that is totally OK!
And when the summer break arrived, the Scouts overwhelmingly voted to continue meeting up weekly online.
Actions have been under way for several weeks now to get Scouting back on again face-to-face in smaller groups – outside and socially distanced. The troop is hoping to get authorisation to meet up on the green outside the OSR sometime in September, but this will depend on national advice and there being no further local outbreaks of the virus.
We can’t wait to meet up, but this won’t be Scouting as we know it. At the ‘Amber’ readiness level we still have lots of restrictions, so our online sessions and weekly challenges will continue.
The emails, texts and chats from parents and carers have been fantastically supportive and it’s been great to provide some normality and structure whilst the young people have been off school.
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 17). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.