10 tips for summer Scouting
Not all Groups stop Scouting during the school holidays. Here are 10 tips from leaders who think summertime is the best time for Scouting.
1. Find a suitable venue
This doesn’t have to be your usual meeting place. Ash is Group Scout Leader at 14th Coventry, and a summer Scouting veteran, with over a decade of experience running summer sessions for Cubs and Scouts. His Group meets in a school during the term, so when it closes for the long summer holiday, they move just up the road to utilise the facilities at their local County campsite.
‘We can go outdoors during daylight hours, so it gives us a better chance to do things we can’t do in the winter, like long hikes in the local area,’ Ash explains.
2. Make links with local Groups
Finding Leaders for activities through the summer can be tough, but Ash’s Group successfully linked up with others in the District and County to ‘borrow’ volunteers and ensure they had enough adults each week.
Ash’s Group is quite small and doesn’t own much camping kit, so through these links they’ve been able to share equipment, and have taken their young people away on big summer camps together.
Photos courtesy of 3rd Poole Sea Scouts
3. Be prepared for the weather
Summer ought to be the time that Scouting goes outdoors and stays there until it’s told to come back in, but sometimes a Great British washout is inevitable. Ash says they always have a contingency plan for indoor activities, but they try to stay outside if they can.
‘Everyone comes prepared with good clothing, and we just keep an eye on the weather,’ he says.
4. Keep young people in the Scouting habit
Debbie is a Beaver and Cub Leader in Craven Lea, Hull. She started her Group just over a year ago, and it was still in its infancy when summer came. ‘We were worried that we might lose kids come September if we stopped for seven weeks. It’s a long time,’ Debbie says.
By continuing to Scout over the summer, she retained more young people and didn't see numbers dropping off much when school started back.
5. Try more traditional Scouting skills
Being outdoors during daylight hours offers a unique chance to do things that there often isn’t time for during Scout meetings, like going on long hikes in the local area, or making a whole meal during an evening of backwoods cooking.
Not having to worry about it getting dark while you’re still out means you can make sessions longer too, although be sure to check with parents first.
6. Get out into the community
The summer is a great time for trying adventurous activities at Scout Activity Centres, or visiting attractions in the local community which are open later than usual during the summer holiday.
Last year, to break up the evenings of badge work in the hall, Debbie took her Beavers and Cubs out to the local city farm and waterways, which they really enjoyed and might not otherwise have had the chance to see.
7. Charge by the week
Forget trying to charge subs for the summer: Ash found through experience that parents are unwilling to pay for a block of sessions when they are pretty sure their young people won’t be able to attend them all.
Instead, both Ash and Debbie opted to charge a small nightly fee to each Scout, which worked out much better and stopped the cost of participation from being a barrier to access.
8. Select summer badges
Keeping up with badge work provides an incentive to come to each session. Picking outdoor or adventurous badges, like the Time On The Water Staged Activity Badge or Adventure Challenge Award, will encourage you to get out and do plenty of activities.
Kadin, 11, is a Scout at 3rd Poole Sea Scouts. The Group continues to go out on the water during summer sessions. 'We do kayaking, sailing and go out in rowing boats,' he says. 'It's really enjoyable when you're out on the water, you see lots of wildlife - like fish and lots of birds.'
9. Have a parent rota
Coming along to run Scouts sessions every week of the summer can be a big commitment for volunteers, especially during the summer when there are additional childcare commitments, as well as holidays to contend with.
An effective way to take the pressure off everyone is by drawing up a rota. If there are gaps in the rota and you need more adults, invite parents along to supervise and help the young people with activities.
10. Run low-cost activities
The impact of having fewer young people than during a normal Scouts night during the school term, and receiving payment weekly, means a summer Programme will either dip into Group funds, or will have to be run on a tight budget. But low-cost doesn’t have to mean no fun.
‘One night we made dens out of a huge pile of cardboard boxes that everyone had collected,’ Debbie recounts. ‘The kids planned their dens, built them and then played in them all night. They absolutely loved it, they did it for the full two-hour session - and we could have carried on for two more!’
This feature was originally printed in the June 2016 edition of Scouting Magazine. You can download a PDF of the Magazine or read all the other articles from this edition here.