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Scouts launch new group for younger children to combat isolation

This news post is almost 3 years old

It's the first time the organisation has lowered the age range in 35 years, to support early years’ children after the isolation of lockdowns

A new branch of the Scouts has been launched to help younger children after isolation during the pandemic.

The Squirrels is aimed at four and five year olds, and will operate across Scotland.

Squirrels will get to be active, explore nature and have fun learning with friends, earning badges like all other Scouts. The programme starts rolling out this month and grown-ups are being called on to volunteer to give young children a chance to learn vital skills for life after the challenges of lockdowns. 

Building on a successful pilot programme, Squirrel dreys will open initially in nine locations across Scotland, but with more to follow. Priority given to communities most affected by the pandemic. Research from Ofsted has demonstrated that children hardest hit by Covid-19 pandemic have regressed in basic skills and learning.

The emphasis will be on outdoor adventures, making new friends and learning new skills, recognised by a new set of badges. Squirrels will create a positive, safe environment for young children to develop, as they learn essential skills for life.

New Squirrels will get to try new activities and make new friends. The programme is crafted to help them develop teamwork, communication, creativity, community awareness and other key skills. New badges will include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.

To support the new section, Scouts are calling for grown-up helpers to step forward as part of its #GoodForYou, campaign, designed to recruit new volunteers. Scouts are showing adults how volunteering for Scouts not only helps young people, but is good for them too, supporting wellbeing and building their skills for employment and education.

Katie Docherty, chief executive, Scouts Scotland, said: “Squirrels is part of our commitment to help young people, families and communities come back stronger from the pandemic. If you’re four, you’ve spent a third of your life in lockdowns. Our mission at Scouts is to equip young people with skills for life, and we know how important early years is in terms of developing these skills. We know this has especially impacted children in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. That’s why we are opening the first Squirrel dreys in those communities that need it most.”

She added: “To scale up this new programme we need support from volunteers, partners and donors to help us reach even more young people.”

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, said: “I'm so glad that younger children will now have the chance to join our family of Scouts and develop skills for life. We know from our pilot programme that four and five year olds can really benefit from the activities that Squirrels offers. All of us at the Scouts believe that by offering opportunities at this early age, inspiring a sense of wonder, fun and curiosity, we can have a long-lasting, positive impact on young people’s lives. To make this work we need more volunteers to join the team and donors to get behind us”

George Walker, Squirrels Group Leader from the 5th, 7th and 20th Groups from Dundee said: “We are really excited to start out an exciting new opportunity to open a Squirrels drey in Dundee. The programme is built to help four and five year olds develop teamwork, communication and creativity. It going to be great to get these young people together to have fun, make new friends and earn badges!”