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. 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.
What is the Permitted Age to Start Beavers?
Beavers age range is roughly 6 to 8. The earliest that they can start is 3 months before they turn 6. This equates to the term before they turn 6 so some groups start them at the start of the term in which they turn 6.
This means the exact Beavers age varies slightly for each child. For some children this will be in year one and for some in year two, depending on when their birthdays are. They will usually stay in Beavers until sometime between 8 and 8 and a half.
For older children, there is Cubs for children from 8 to 10 and a half (check out my Cubs Guide here) and scouts for children from 10 to 14. Beyond this there is also explorer scouts and young leaders to be enjoyed.
Can Girls Join Beavers?
Scouts welcomes both boys and girls in the UK. Girl Beavers might be lower in number than in Boy Beavers but are still well represented in most groups. They wear the same uniform and do the same activities.
The only difference you may come across is when they go to camp where you might be asked if you are happy for them to share a tent with with boys. Once they move up to cubs they usually try to give the girls their own tent.
Getting a Place at Beavers
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.
How Much Does Beavers Cost in the UK?
Beavers is by far the cheapest activity my kids do! Each group set their own prices so they will vary but we pay £36 a term. 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.
You will also need to pay for uniform (described below) and there will be optional activities to get involved in but most groups will have funds available to help with these so do ask if it’s something you’ll struggle with. Beavers want to be inclusive to everyone no matter what their income level so don’t let the cost of Beavers stop your child from attending.
Joining Beavers – What Does Getting Invested mean?
Once they’ve done their taster sessions and decided they want to officially join Beavers, Beavers are invested. I had no idea what this meant when I was first informed it was happening! Beaver Investiture 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 plain 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. Each lodge has one child who acts as a “Lodge Leader”, these are usually the ones who have been at Beavers for a while.
What do Beaver Scouts Do?
Loads! Every Beaver group 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.
Earning badges is at the core of scouting and the majority of what they do contributes to earning badges (although some things, like Pizza Hut and the Christmas party, are just for fun).
The majority of the badges that Beavers earn are Activity badges. Some of these involve either demonstrating a skill they already have and receiving a badge in recognition. This is usually for hobby areas like swimming, sports, hobbies or collecting.
Other activity badges will be worked on during Beaver meetings. There are a large variety of badges they might work on including Safety, space, health and fitness, communication, disability awareness, Animal care and many more. Some of the badges also have stages so they might complete one stage and then work towards the next stage.
The other type of badges are award badges. These usually take longer to work towards and include things like teamwork, personal challenge, adventure challenge and skills challenge.
Children will also receive their membership award when they are invested, a joining award for each year they attend, leadership stripes if they become a “Lodge Leader” (leader of a small group of Beavers), a moving on award if they are going up to Cub Scouts and potentially the Chief Scouts Bronze Award if they complete certain badges during their time with Beavers.
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
- Leadership 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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