Scouting has been going on in this country for many years and it’s something that still offers a huge number of benefits for children and young adults. Groups are run entirely by volunteers which is in itself testament to how much people care about it. Scouts welcomes both boys and girls and is made up of three main sections. My husband was a scout and his Dad was very involved. Joining Beavers was always on the cards for my kids. As someone who hadn’t been involved in any uniformed clubs, I had no idea what to expect so now that I’m a Scouting volunteer myself, here’s my parents guide to joining Beavers.
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Getting a place at Beavers
Beavers, is for children aged roughly 6 to 8. For older children, there is Cubs for children from 8 to 10 and a half and scouts for children from 10 to 14. Beyond this there is also explorer scouts and young leaders to be enjoyed. Children can start Beavers from the term before they turn 6. For some children this will be the start of year one and for some the start of year two, depending on when their birthdays are.
There are hundreds of groups all over the country and you can find your nearest by visiting the Scouts website. Some groups will have a waiting list so it’s a good idea to get your child’s name down early. You don’t have to stick with your nearest group, so if you’re keen for them to go and don’t mind a longer journey, have a look at your other local groups. You can go in the waiting list for a few, just let them all know when you’ve got a place.
Most groups will invite children along for a few taster sessions before they actually join Beavers. This is a chance for them to make sure they like it before you pay your subscription. These are generally paid termly and are set by the group. Our scout groups costs £35 a term so it’s a bargain compared to the other activities they do!
Joining Beavers – Getting Invested
Once they’ve done their taster sessions and decided they want to officially join Beavers, Children are invested. I had no idea what this meant when I was first informed it was happening! It is in fact a simple ceremony where the children recite the Beaver promise and officially become a Beaver. The promise is usually read to them so they can just repeat it, great if they aren’t reading yet.
The standard Beaver promise involves the commitment to love God but Beavers is open to everyone no matter what their religious beliefs (or lack there of) and there are several alternative versions of the promise they can use.
Beavers wear a specific turquoise sweatshirt and polo shirt. These can be purchased online, either through the Scouts website or on Amazon. You may have a local scouting shop you can buy from or your local school uniform supplier might sell them. If you think you will struggle with the cost, talk to your scout group leader as they may be able to help. The same goes for the subscription fees and the cost of activities and trips.
You can purchase scout trousers from the same suppliers who sell the sweatshirts and T-Shirts however any relatively smart dark trousers will do. My son has decided to wear his school trousers recently despite having scout trousers. I suspect he’s just too lazy to get changed. My daughter wears plain black leggings. Shoes should ideally be plan dark colours but realistically most people wear trainers or school shoes.
When joining Beavers your child will also receive a scarf, in the colours of your scout group, and a woggle. A woggle is a small plastic tube that holds the scarf in place and it will be the colour of the “lodge” your child is in. Lodges are the small groups the Beavers are split into, in which they do many of their activities.
What do children do at Beavers?
Loads! Every Beaver Colony is different because they each choose their own programme and use different activities to work towards badges. Each meeting starts with an opening ceremony and there are usually games at the end of the session. Most Beavers meetings last around an hour and 15 minutes. The timing might seem quite late compared to other activities for the age group but that’s because many of the volunteers who who run the groups have full time jobs so aren’t available any earlier.
If the Beavers are at the Scout Hut (or wherever they meet) for their meeting, they will usually be doing activities to help towards earning a badge. Some examples of activities my Beaver has recently enjoyed are, making a Jam sandwich with one hand to understand disability better, designing a vehicle with wheels and then building it in lego, making the tallest tower they can for a science badge, identifying planets and making a star constellation for the space badge and learning finger spelling.
Beavers often have visits from other people, recently we’ve had visit from the local recycling team and a guide dog charity. They also get out and about lots. They’ve been to the police museum, the church, behind the scenes at Tesco’s, the cat sanctuary, bowling and Pizza Hut. There are also activity days, where they do lots of great things like, climbing, sumo suit wrestling, high ropes, den building and fire starting and overnight camps. Overnight camps are totally optional so if your child (or you!) aren’t ready for a night apart that’s totally fine. If you want them to go but they aren’t quite sure, adult helpers are always required and having a parent there can often convince them to give it a go.
The majority of what they do contributes to earning badges but some things, like Pizza Hut and the Christmas party, are just for fun.
What are the benefits of joining Beavers?
Children get a huge amount from becoming a Beaver, here are just a few of the benefits:
- Making friends outside of school
- Developing independence
- Growing confidence
- Team work skills
- Developing a sense of responsibility
- Managing risk
- Having fun!
If you’re considering which activities your child should do, why not check out my tongue in cheek guide to after school activities.
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