Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us, we’ve Zoomed through it

Date: 17th Jul 2020 Author: Karen Blake
Covid-19 and lockdown has brought challenges to everyone in scouting.  1st Shiremoor leadership team have successfully worked together to enable a continued programme of scouting activities over Zoom video conferencing.

Scavenger hunts started us off with an indoor scavenger hunt for items around the house and they have continued to be popular with all sections adapting the find list, to finding items starting particular letters and with the letters of lockdown, password, quarantine and 1st Shiremoor.  The most recent scavenger hunt Cubs were sent looking for things that were their favourite colour, smell, something that made them happy and something to give to someone else to make them smile.

Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us, we’ve Zoomed through it

Interactive games have been a core part of virtual scouting for 1st Shiremoor with knife, fork, spoon (a play on rock, paper scissors), scouting badge and street number bingo, play your cards right, spot the ball/puck/frisbee and Connect 4.  Active games to get the young people moving around have included: underground/overground which had ducking down and jumping up when learning about where fruit and vegetables are grown; the strange rules of cricket which had them jumping in and out of shot, the bean story where they imitated runner, jumping, jelly and broad beans and Mr Stand and Mr Sit, which yes you’ve guessed they had to stand and sit.  Games involving the alphabet from going through the alphabet naming an animal or food for each letter to naming a film and then the next starting with the same letter as the last, for example Inside Out – Toy Story.

Practical activities are part of scouting and that has not stopped.  We have decorated jam jars that can have thanks and worries placed in, made a pin hole projector to safely look at the sun, carried out magic tricks after watching video demonstrations and our Cub Leader has produced a set of video instructions on how to change a bike tyre for everyone to follow in their own time.

Cubs enjoyed an escape room where they had been locked in the Scout Hall together with friends, thanks to 2nd Wellington Scout Group for sharing.  There were lots of locks, passwords and information to learn, as well as skills to put into practice, to find the keys, codes and answers to help them escape. It was very popular and Scouts requested to do an escape room too.  Scouts were challenged in a virtual Hogwarts when taking part in 16th Wyre Forest (St Michaels) & 6th Colwyn Bay Scout Troop’s Virtual Escape Room Experience.

Cubs later in the summer term successfully solved the Murder at Mansfield Manor in a virtual Cluedo. They enjoyed it saying it was very good, very complex and something different.  The Cubs did a great job of taking it in turns to navigate through the manor; eliminating suspects, weapons and rooms; before solving the crime in just over one hour. They all showed great teamwork and problem solving.  Massive thanks to Graeme Ince who created it – a Cub Leader at 1st Bomere Heath until last Christmas now a manager of a Digital Scout Active Support Unit in Shropshire.

Over the last month Beavers and Cubs have been given the opportunity to do a show and tell talk over Zoom for an activity badge.  We have had some amazing young people giving talks for the Animal Friend/Carer activity badges.  We have learnt about a wide range of animals including bearded dragons, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits.  On the sporting front we have heard about cycling, dancing and karate.  Hobbies have included Minecraft, painting rocks and origami.

Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us, we’ve Zoomed through it

Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us, we’ve Zoomed through it

Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us, we’ve Zoomed through it

Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us, we’ve Zoomed through it

Cubs have learnt some computer coding using Twine, one Cub asked if they could do this every week and many have continued making their own games at home.  “Twine is an app and website that lets you create simple yet effective boredom busting text games.  I was first introduced to Twine with a complex game by my Cub Leader- Mark Walters. It was named ‘Lost’, and at that time I had no idea how he did it.  I resolved to somehow make a game like that one day.  Only a week later, we were introduced to how the game was made.  It was made from a website I had never heard of before, and it was called ‘Twine’.  It is very easy to use Twine, if you know your keyboard well and can type pretty quickly, as it can be a little time-consuming!  A few weeks later, here I am, creating my own text game on Twine and writing a review about it. I think that I have made good progress on it and hope to improve it in the near future.” Arjun (9)

Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us, we’ve Zoomed through it

Skills have been taught with Beavers learning knots using their shoelaces. Cubs have carried out science experiments in their own homes which was enjoyed “as it is something I haven’t done for while due to not being at school”.  Scouts have been learning from their peers with the older scouts taking the reins to teach their troop a skill for life – cooking noodles and making tortilla pizzas.

We have run quizzes using Kahoot to cover knowledge for the home safety and astronomer activity badges and given that we are spending so much of our lives virtually and online during this strange period of time, we also took a look at online safety through a group discussion and quiz.  Beavers completed a full activity badge, Communicator, over three successive virtual meetings. They spelt their name with the phonetic alphabet, played the role of a police control room operator deciphering car registrations, learnt about different communication methods today compared to days gone by. To understand the importance of looking after personal data, they looked at scenarios where they might give out their full address or not.

Recently Beavers and Scouts have enjoyed cook/make a longs with Beavers making armpit fudge where all the ingredients are mixed in a zip lock bag and Scouts had fun making a cake in a mug.  “It was really fun baking the cake and even more fun eating it!”  Oliver (10).  Beavers and Cubs both finished the summer term with baking cookies, considering alternative recipes with allergies to consider.  Both sets of cookies went down very well with the Beavers, Cubs, Leaders and all the parents who were on hand to help.

We were also delighted to welcome two new Beavers to the colony during virtual sessions. “I have liked meeting new people” commented Tommy (7), one of our new Beavers. We also invested a Beaver who had started before lockdown and continued attending virtual sessions.  All our virtual sessions start with the Beavers promise, in fact Thomas (6) said “doing the promise and games” when asked what he had enjoyed about the virtual sessions.

The general feedback from all the young people taking part in the Zoom sessions is that they have enjoyed everything especially as they have been “Just generally doing things we would not normally do in face to face Scouting”.   Although they have missed “Being presented with the badges (in person) and chatting to friends face to face”.  Feedback from parents has been positive with one parent saying “Great weekly Zoom sessions organised by the leaders.  Fun online activities getting all the Cubs and Scouts involved.”  Another parent stated it was the highlight of their child’s week.

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls