What a year!

Date: 23rd Mar 2021 Author: Karen Blake

A year on from 1st Shiremoor Scout Group turning 70 on the 23rd March 2020, it was just a week after the country was locked down when we had to stay home to protect the NHS and save lives. Who would have though our 71st year would be such a challenging one with a global pandemic and a new way of scouting? The leaders, parents and young people of 1st Shiremoor rose to the challenge and have been amazing throughout.

Virtual scouting was a new way of delivering and tonight saw the 82nd session held on Zoom with a total attendance of 824 young people over lockdown one, two and three.  The group also managed to fit in 2 sets of face to face scouting between lockdowns with 33 sessions ran within the grounds of Holystone Primary School with a total attendance of 334 young people.

We have welcomed lots of new members (13 Beavers and 4 Cubs) to the group over the last year. In addition to new young members we have welcomed 3 new adults to the leadership team and the Executive Committee has seen a lot of changes with 5 new members joining at the virtual Annual General Meeting held over Zoom in September 2020.

Badges and awards have not stopped over the last year either, with over 170 challenge awards and activity badges achieved. Top awards have been presented as well with 9 young people achieving the Chief Scout Award including 2 Beavers their Bronze, 4 Cubs with their Silver and 3 Scouts with their Gold.

What a year!

What a year!

What a year!

Recently we have welcomed visitors into all three sections, Beavers were joined by Nicola from Rockpool School for a session about rockpool creatures.  Cubs joined forces with 1st and 3rd Killlngworth and were joined by a school music teacher who led a great session making music with our bodies then digitally and finally Freema from the Community School Clothing Scheme joined Scouts to share what the scheme is all about, its origins and where they are now.

“What a fabulous virtual evening we have just had with the 1st Shiremoor Scout Group Beavers! Soooo lovely to be doing what we love best spreading the word on all the fabulous animals that can be found on our coasts! Some awesome questions from you guys also. Thanks for having us again guys and fingers crossed you find some of these fab animals next time your out rockpooling!”
 ~ Rockpool School.

“Huge thanks to Mark Walters for allowing both 1st and 3rd Killingworth to join you tonight for a music lesson! So great to see some interactions between groups still even on Zoom”
 ~ Amy, Assistant District Commissioner – Cub Scouts

“Thank you so much for letting me join you all. I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to being able to volunteer with you all when allowed to do so
 ~ Community School Clothing Scheme

  • Beavers have enjoyed lots of fun activities outside in the dark when allowed with fire lighting and using torches for Morse code names and finding Pokemon cards. Virtually, the Beavers enjoyed problem solving to escape Pirate Island. “In these unprecedented times it is great that our modern technology has allowed us to continue Beaver scouting the way we have. I have enjoyed seeing Beavers join in with all our activities and am so looking forward to seeing them face to face for outdoor adventurous activities, including many who have joined on Zoom” ~ Tim, Beaver Scout Leader
  • Cubs enjoyed a joint yoga Zoom session with 3rd Killingworth making new friends and learning a new skill. The Cubs have loved getting creative and enjoyed a drawing game ‘Roll A Monster’ with a dice being decisive which was repeated on request with a twist rolling a robot and when outside face to face they enjoyed learning all about the Day of the Dead festival and making balloon skull masks. “It was great to see the Cubs trying new ways of Scouting experiencing things that’s not possible on a normal meeting, their attitude during this difficult period has been amazing” ~ Mark, Cub Scout Leader.
  • Scouts were challenged with Crystal Maze and Taskmaster Challenge evenings both provided fun evenings with several different activities to complete. When outside they enjoyed learning and playing a new wide game Wizards and Werewolves and development of navigation skills; even in the face of the very wet and very cold weather (Scouts got the bad end of that deal). “It’s great to see scouts continuing to be engaged and enjoying their scouting despite the change in delivery. They’ve enthusiastically tried origami on Chinese New Year along with drawing Baby Yoga and Pokemon” ~ Lisa, Assistant Scout Leader.
  • At a group level there have been group Zoom sessions including making camp doughnuts, modelling Morph and soap carving.   “I have loved seeing members from all three sections engaging in group activities over zoom” ~ Karen, Group Section Assistant.

Everyone in the group is looking forward and excited to be able to return to scouting outside in the near future.

“Roll on face to face!” ~ Mark, Cub Scout Leader.

“In amongst the adversity that has been the last year; it has been amazing to see so many of our young people and adults faced this pandemic head on, rise above it all and achieving. As we have come to the end of our Birthday year, we can all look back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been despite it all. We can also look forward to getting back to some sort of normality with the potential to be able to go camping by the summer!  I know I am looking forward to seeing the group in some capacity face to face again and to being able to go camping and get back to our scouting roots.” ~ Kathryn,  Acting Group Scout Leader

Finally this year could not have happened without the support of all our young members and their parents, this is what some of them have said about the last year.

“I liked the campfire on the field. I am looking forward to doing adventures on the field and in the forest.”
Jamie (aged 6), Beaver.

“Nathan enjoyed the morph workshop and the mug cake. He is looking forward to getting back outside for Beavers. I think yourself and Tim have done an excellent job running the zoom calls every week. It helped provide abit of routine to the beavers when nothing else was normal.”
Nathan (aged 7), Beaver and his mum.

“Given Alasdair has yet to be officially inducted into Beavers, his highlights might not be typical.
Just the same it’s been heart-warming to see him in awe of the Beaver group that is ‘out there’ in Zoom land. The idea that he will soon be able to participate face to face – or mask to mask – is an inspiration for us all and the Beavers team should be proud of their ability to run meetings of young children with real spirit and community feeling – all this apparently without tears.
As a parent it is sometimes perplexing to find so many little people having fun together in one’s own living room. The activities and guest presentations have been ingenious. Just the same, Alasdair could do with some time running around in the open air, perhaps turning bedtime into something of a treat rather than a year of unfair punishment!”
 ~ Parents of a new Beaver. 

“My favourite was camping out at home and we had a tent in the garden.  I am looking forward to things to do with nature that we can do outside.”
~ Rose (aged 8), Cub.

“Oliver has had a good think and his favourite session was the Morph model making – I was quite surprised as he’s not usually into creative things, his close second was the night in Beavers that they experimented with fire – I must say I was amazed at how sensible the Beavers were that night but they had all thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility that they were given!
Oliver says he is most looking forward to getting back to face to face scouting to have more physical sessions as opposed to sitting in front of a screen, which I do understand however that links in with my opinion of the last year – having seen first hand the effort and organisation (and patience) that went into the face to face Beaver sessions I can see why the kids love the sessions so much!
I know Oliver is keen to get back but the ideas for the zoom sessions have been brilliant – they have covered such a variety of things to keep the kids focused – things they’d have not had tried before – the soap carving, the music session to name just two!  I think each week has brought the kids something new along with the continuity of either the face to face or zoom sessions and think that will have really helped the kids mental health.
I think the kids are so fortunate to have such dedicated leaders who have made this difficult year so much more fun!
It wasn’t until you asked for contributions for this article that it made me really think about past year, the kids have had something to look forward to every week thanks to you all. With so many changes for them, and across all of their other activities none have given the level of support and enjoyment that Scouting has ?”
~ Oliver (age 8), Cub and his mum

“I have really enjoyed everything that’s been done in the last year, especially the ‘Escape Rooms’ done over zoom and I am looking forward to seeing everyone and being invested to scouts.”
~ Arjun (age 10), Scout.

“I loved the escape rooms, scavenger hunts and other things that we don’t normally do in Scouts”
 ~Henry (age 11), Scout.

“I liked the running around team games in the dark, before Christmas. I am looking forward to seeing people and moving around more.”
~ Evan (aged 11), Scout.

“As a parent, I really appreciate the efforts and dedication of all the leaders to keep the Scouts going..you guys rock”
~ A Scout mum.

“The Leaders have offered a varied and interesting program over the last year, rising to the challenge of mostly meeting over Zoom, with just a few ‘in-person’ sessions inbetween lockdowns. We loved receiving the craft resource packs which encouraged my son to try something different during Lockdown. We thought the reduced subs over the last few terms offered great value for money too, and being able to continue with Scouting offered a bit of normality in these uncertain times.”
~ A Scout mum.

“We feel our children are very lucky that they have had so many different types of activities to join in with remotely. They have been challenged to try new things, found out more about the world and had fun at the same time. The Zoom sessions have, at times, been their only contact with other children, so it has been a brilliant way to stay in touch too.”
~ Parents of a Beaver, Cub and Scout.

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