For a movement renowned for camping and outdoor activities you’d think Scout groups would now have to admit defeat and scrap their meetings.
The lockdown in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means youngsters can rarely leave their homes, let alone meet up for group bushcraft sessions in the woods.
But this hasn’t stopped Scouts, Cubs and Beavers in Rutland from getting together and earning their badges – it’s just they now do it via videoconferencing website Zoom.
For the past week, Leanne Wrentmore, Group Scout Leader at Oakham All Saints Scout Group, has been trialling ‘virtual scouting’ with her troops.
And it’s proved such a hit with children and their parents that it is now being rolled out to the other sections in Uppingham, Cottesmore and North Luffenham.
Leanne said: “I appreciate we are all quite stressed with what’s going on but we’re determined to carry on scouting, if you’ll pardon the Carry On pun!
“Scouting HQ says that 50 per cent of our meetings should be outside in the fresh air, camping and stuff, but with Covid-19 that’s become a challenge to say the least.
“But for us it’s about keeping going and making the best of what we’ve got. I’ve been blown away by what the young people have been doing and the response from their parents.”
She said they usually have around 31 Scouts at a meeting and with the virtual Zoom meetings they’ve had around 23 or 24.
Activities have included scavenger hunts around the house for items such as silly hats and a challenge to say the Scout Promise in the funniest and most inventive places.
“We had one do it in a cupboard and another in the shower while it was on so he got soaking wet through!” said Leanne. “Another was done in sign language which was spot on! We were amazed by how inventive they’ve been.”
The youngsters have even been able to work towards their badges too with a sunflower growing competition underway as well as assignments to help with household chores and build the best den.
If they prove they spent the night in the den the ‘Night Away’ badge is up for grabs, despite usually being reserved for camping trips.
Another challenge was to move their ‘necker’ scarves from their feet to their necks without using their hands – and provide video evidence.
“Some parents have said this is the first time they’ve seen their kids smile in a week,” said Leanne. “I think the primary school age children have been hit a lot more because they are so much more active and social. For them, even if we just said ‘hi’ and pulled silly faces they’d be happy – it’s really important for their health and mental wellbeing.
“We are actually as busy as we usually are, if not more so, trying to keep them active.”
For more information check out the group’s facebook page.