Since the beginning of 2020, technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have entered the public arena as schools and workplaces needed tools to allow the continuance of working, but from home. Like many other Districts Wokingham Scouting wants to take advantage of those technological advancements, and build on an idea that some rural areas, like Derbyshire CyberScouts, have been using for some years.
We are looking to open a virtual Scout Group partly in response to Covid-19, but more in response to the sheer size of the list of young people waiting to join Scouting in Wokingham District.
At our recent January census the “Want to Join” list for Wokingham District stood at around 487 young people, with most demand coming at Beaver and Cub age ranges. Despite over recent years having tried to open extra Groups, and sections the restrictions come from our need for adult volunteers to run them.
To that end, in Early 2021 we’ll be looking to open our first Beaver Colony and our first Cub Pack, each for 15 young people. The reason it’s 15, and not up to 24, is that the Covid Guidance from the National Youth Agency as applied by The Scouts varies as we navigate our way through the pandemic, and the evolving responses.
So for the foreseeable future, the new Group will meet online with content shared with members to work on at home and then encourage outdoor Parent-led activities, such as nature trails, walking routes or art trails, to supplement the online programme. Parents, Cubs and Beavers will be encouraged to share their adventures using Online Scout Manager and Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
As the guidance changes to more face-to-face, but still covid-secure activities, then our programme will evolve with more in person Scouting around the District using available venues, and locations, using the blended approach of online, parent-led and in-person Scouting. Of course to allow us to progress to the more face to face offering we will need parents and family members to step forward and help.
The ulitmate aim is as and when spaces become free in our traditional Groups we will offer to transfer your child to that Group. This way we can provide some access to Scouting for young people of age, whilst they wait for a traditional Scouoting place to become available.