Beaver Scout badges which help to develop empathy
From the Animal Friend Activity Badge, which involves befriending creatures great and small, to the Sports Activity Badge, which reminds us that fairness comes first no matter what the final score - here are five empathy-enhancing badges Beavers are sure to love.
Caring for another creature over a period of time forces young people to step out of themselves for a while, and puts them in a position where their ability to read nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body language and gestures becomes crucial. Even hearing a cat yelp when they’re hungry or watching a dog run to the door when they want to go outside can be surprisingly effective at enhancing empathy because they tap into young people’s critical thinking skills, asking them to consider what their companion’s needs are and what they can do to help.
Beavers who complete this badge will have fun getting lost in a good book, designing their own book covers, and learning how to care for books. They’ll also discover whole new worlds between the pages, and build their emotional vocabulary. By immersing us in highly detailed fictional worlds, reading can help young people not only to understand and explore their own thoughts and feelings, but to unpack the perspectives of characters whose life experiences might initially seem very different from their own.
Whether we realise it or not, every time we look at a piece of art, we’re solving a complex mystery – thinking about what the art means, asking ourselves why the person who created it did so, and projecting our own ideas and interpretations onto what we see. Though it might sound complex, it’s actually one of the simplest and most intuitive things we do as human beings, and it comes even more naturally to inquisitive young people. By creating their own art, Beavers can therefore open the doors to empathy in surprising ways, engaging deeply with the world around them and using their imaginations to reflect what they see on the page or stage.
As well as highlighting the geographical and cultural differences that make us unique and interesting – such as language, national foods and flags – this badge inspires empathy by showing Beavers that we all have more in common than we may initially realise. Shining a light on Scouting overseas, it demonstrates that although some fellow Scouts may use different terms or wear different uniforms or take part in different kinds of activities, the fact that being a Scout is fundamentally about doing your best remains the same, wherever you may be.
Sport is not just about self-improvement and scoring goals, but about learning how to thrive as a team, and understanding things from your opponent’s point of view. Completing the team exercises required for this badge is therefore a great way to open up a conversation about fairness and compassion on the field, encouraging your Beavers to practice good sportsmanship for years to come.