Squirrel Scouts

Squirrels - 4 to 6 years

We’re starting a new provision for four and five year olds called Squirrels, to help young people gain skills for life at a time when it matters most and where it's most needed.

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Looking back on our Summer of Play Success

  • As part of the Summer of Play scheme, the Scottish Government provided an initial £5000 to Scout Groups across the North East of Scotland with three-hundred and eighty young people from Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray across twenty-two Scout Groups benefitted from the scheme.
  • North East Scotland Scouts agreed to provide a further £4555 funding to support all applications, including 89 volunteers to attend, however the Scottish Government increased the funding by another £5000 last month with another round of applications.
  • 1st Kingswell Scout Group are one of the beneficials of this funding and the fund allowed 22 young people to return to the outdoors at a greatly reduced cost, helping their wellbeing, letting them make memories and learn skills for life.
  • The Association suspended all face-to-face activities in March 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but volunteers delivered an online programme to help their young people cope with the restrictions and not seeing their friends and gave them a wellbeing lifeline.

After eighteen months hibernation due to the lockdown restrictions, 1st Kingswell Scouts returned to Templars Park Aberdeen last month, for an exciting action packed adventurous programme with everything from pioneering, crate stacking, team building tasks to backwards cooking. The young people were ecstatic to return to activities they missed throughout the lockdown period, with a number of young people telling leading volunteers how much they missed their friends, the time outdoors and how the financial injection made a big difference.

On top of reconnecting with the outdoors and learning new skills, the Scouts took part in everything from pioneering with large poles, crate stacking where the young person uses two crates and a team to help them climb as far as possible, team building tasks like problem solving challenges and , backwoods cooking, spoke with Scouts from New Zealand as a group using zoom and a projector and the greatly missed all-important campfire and marshmallows to celebrate their hard work over the weekend.

Another big take-away from the weekend was how the young people felt an improvement in their physical and in particular mental wellbeing, through reconnecting with their friends. The positive health and wellbeing aspects of a Scout camp are myriad: whether it's being outdoors in the fresh air for the weekend, working together with peers on exciting and challenging new activities, learning new skills, or just having fun and relaxing round the campfire with friends, it's a hugely positive experience for young people and volunteers. In a study by the University of Edinburgh, individuals are 15% less likely to suffer from anxiety if they’ve been a Scout or Guide, as organisations that support resilience and social mobility through developing the potential for continued progressive self-education.

Cameron, age 11, a young person with the group said “Getting back to camp with my friends was great and has helped me feel better. I got to learn new things like setting the camp up from scratch, including putting up the dining marquee, and I got to learn how to use knives, axes and saws safely to prepare firewood”

Fran Scorgie, lead volunteer with the group added “The lockdown has had a significant impact on the wellbeing of young people, the young people and leaders in 1st Kingswells were ecstatic to get back to the outdoors for the first time in eighteen months. They camped with their friends while learning new skills for life and it is down to the tireless hard work of our volunteers. Volunteering with the Scouts really does make a difference to young people’s lives, it’s good for your wellbeing, good for your health and good for your CV when you are going for the new job or promotion, it is simply good for you”

Ken Bruce, Chair for North East Scotland Scouts commented “The funding received from the Scottish Government has made an incredible difference to young people across the North East of Scotland. With the funding, all applications across our region were supported, meaning even more young people could get out this summer, spend time outdoors, make memories with their friends, improve their wellbeing and learn skills for life.”

In line with Scottish Government and Youthlink guidance, Scouts is now returning to face to face activities, you can enrol a young person or join as a volunteer today by visiting https://nescouts.scot and filling out an application form.

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The new District Commissioner for Kincardineshire is Janine Sydenham.

We are delighted to let you know that our new District Commissioner for Kincardineshire is Janine Sydenham.
Janine has a wealth of experience in both voluntary and professional settings having a background in both Scouting and Girlguiding. Janine is a Human Resources and Project Management Professional outside of Scouting for a reputable company, making her an excellent appointment to drive forward Kincardineshire and give more young people the #SkillsForLife.
Janine is a passionate volunteer and outdoors person enjoying her time with the local coastal rowing crew, using her paddleboard and scuba diving with the British Sub Aqua Club.
Janine said on her new appointment: "After seeing my daughter enjoy Cubs for several years, I knew I wanted to give something back. I am an active "outdoors person" and camping nut, I am happiest away camping and being active, whether it's with our coastal rowing crew, wobbling on my stand up paddleboard or off scuba diving with the British Sub Aqua Club. I'm passionate on allowing young people to experience the outdoors in a safe environment and keen to enable leaders to deliver exciting programmes to their young people, equipping them with #skillsforlife whilst having a huge amount of fun, creating memories and lifelong friends, too. Volunteering enables me to pass on my skills, knowledge and experience to others.  As an HR and project management professional, there's loads I want to bring to the DC role, but also, volunteering is an excellent way to feel good about yourself.  Scouts are supportive - there is an excellent team backing you all the way, and I have learnt so much from fellow Scouters in the last 4 years.  I have had excellent training and support, and there is always someone to talk to if you want help or support. It really is #GoodForYou."
Regional Commissioner Dougie Simmers commented: "District Commissioners are the cornerstone for all Scouting with a District, they oversee the complete management of Scouting from the program of our youth members to all the background functions of a district to ensuring our more local operational effectiveness, this makes it one of the most crucial roles in our organisations. Janine brings in new skills and has fresh ideas as a seasoned Human Resources and Project Management Professional with a reputable company, on how Kincardineshire Scouts will develop and grow as we come out of the pandemic restrictions and most importantly ensuring that we continue to deliver the #SkillsForLife to as many young people in the area of Kincardineshire as possible. I am very excited to be able to announce Janine taking on this role and joining my team of District Commissioners, who do so much for the youth in the North East of Scotland."
Looking forward, Janine cannot wait to get all around the District (as per restrictions), meet volunteers and young people, listen to your feedback on where you would like the district to go and plan for a great future for the district. 
Please add your congratulations to the social media posts and if you are ready for a bigger role with the district team, now is a fantastic time to step forward and drive forward Kincardineshire's success.
To contact Janine please contact her on janine.sydenham@kincardineshirescouts.org.uk


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Announcing Squirrels for 4–5 year olds: inspiring a new generation with skills for life
We couldn’t be prouder to announce Squirrels: our new programme for 4 and 5 year olds. It’s also a historic milestone for the Scout movement as this is the first time Scouts have lowered the age range in 35 years. We’re helping young people gain skills for life where and when it matters most.
Following two years of pilots and pioneering work in Northern Ireland, 9 Squirrel Drey’s are planned in Scotland. We’re prioritising communities most affected by the pandemic, and supporting families and young people who’ve fallen behind. There will be groups in: Dundee, Dunfermline, Kelty, Cowdenbeath, Stenhousemuir, Fordbank, Greenock, Craigalmond and Bridge of Allan, and currently two planned in the North East of Scotland in Early 2022.
We’re particularly proud to welcome those young people from underrepresented communities, including those who haven’t tried Scouts before.
Promoting key skills when it matters
Research from Ofsted tells us that children hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are lacking basic skills and learning. We know that what happens in these critical early years, when vital connections are being made in the brain will fundamentally shape their future.
Our programme’s therefore designed to support informal learning and help 4–5-year-olds catch up. It’s about promoting key skills like working together, communication, and language, as well as creativity and community awareness.
Squirrels get active, explore nature and have fun learning with friends, all while earning badges – just like other Scouts. New badges include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.
It’s a positive, safe environment for young children to develop essential skills for life, starting them on a journey to become the active citizens and leaders of the future.
To support the roll out of Squirrels, we’re now calling for adults, including parents and carers to step forward as part of our #GoodForYou campaign, designed to recruit over 5,000 new volunteers. We’re showing adults how volunteering for Scouts not only helps young people, but is good for them too, supporting wellbeing and building skills for employment and education.
Dougie Simmers, Regional Commissioner commented:“Squirrels is part of our commitment to help young people, families and communities come back stronger from the pandemic. If you’re four, you’ve spent a third of your life in lockdowns. Our mission at Scouts is to equip young people with skills for life, and we know how important early years is in terms of developing these skills. We are planning to rollout Squirrels gradually across the North East of Scotland with two units already confirmed for Early 2022, if you would like to register your interest in a Squirrels section near you contact your nearest group via our website."
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, is helping launch the new age range: ‘I'm so glad that younger children now have the chance to join our family of Scouts,’ he said, ‘and develop skills for life.
‘We know from our pilot programme that 4–5-year-olds can really benefit from the activities that we offer. We believe that by offering opportunities at this early age, inspiring a sense of wonder, fun and curiosity, we can have a long-lasting, positive impact on young people’s lives.’
Growing in confidence
Charmaine, the mother of Alexia, a 5-year-old in an early years’ pilot group, shared the positive impact being in Scouts has had.
‘Alexia has loved coming to the meetings. She’s learnt so many skills, like confidence, independence, and learning to tidy up after herself. During lockdown, she set up a tent in the living room and camped there for two nights. The socialising has also helped her. She doesn’t go to school with the children here, so it’s good for her to meet other children.’
She agrees that parents and carers get actively involved too: ‘If the children are making something then the parents can make something as well, so they know how to do similar activities at home. The leaders are very encouraging and very child focused.
During lockdown they kept in touch and dropped off packs of activities for Alexia to do.  The best thing coming to Scouts is the skills they learn, the discipline it gives them, and the chance to get outside, play and interact with other children.’ – Charmaine
If you’d like to volunteer, find our more, or support the roll out of Squirrels, we’d love to hear from you. Join us as we start this exciting new journey, on the newest branch on Scouts’ family tree. Find out more here.
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