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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

It’s national play day today

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Graeme Luke of Scouts Scotland discusses the importance of play

Today is national play day and across the country events will be taking place which encourage families to get outdoors and play. This year’s theme is play matters. Play matters because it helps children and young people to develop skills that they will use later in life, and it is a vital part of a happy healthy childhood. In 2013 The Scottish Government published their Play Strategy for Scotland which outlined that Scotland should be a nation which values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people. The right to play is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

At Scouts Scotland we know the value of play and it is an integral part of Scouting. We believe that children and young people should enjoy what they are doing and have fun. This is achieved by taking part in new and challenging activities both indoors and outdoors where the emphasis is on ‘learning by doing’

Play can mean all different things; it can be messy, it can be structured, it can be indoors or outdoors. Play allows children to learn and experience things for themselves, to challenge themselves or to try new things. Play allows children and young people to make mistakes which allows them to build resilience.

Graeme Luke

Play allows children to learn and experience things for themselves, to challenge themselves or to try new things.

Graeme Luke

For younger children joining Scouts as Beavers (aged 6 – 8) or Cubs (8 to 10 ½) one of the things they love to do is play games. Games allow children to learn about give and take, they learn how to win without being boastful and they also learn how to be gracious in defeat. Playing games is also a great way to learn how to work in different sized teams which is really important for later life. But it’s not just games that although children and young people to play and in the Scouts we give young people the chance to play through trying out lots of different activities, many of them adventurous. We want children and young people to love challenges, to be intrigued by mistakes, to enjoy effort and to love learning. And we believe that adventure provides the perfect vehicle for this. Whether that’s heading to the local woodland to play, build dens or heading to a local pond to explore and find out about nature.

At our national activity centres we also encourage all sorts of play in different ways. It can be more structured team building exercises like raft building, doing a night hike under the stars or even learning circus skills. All of these allow children and young people to take responsibility and make choices and take risks while developing physical, emotional and cognitive skills. For our younger members they then take the skills that they have learned through play in Beavers and Cubs and put them into practice in Scouts (10 ½ - 14), Explorer Scouts (14-18) and the Scout Network (18-25).

We firmly believe that all young people should have the opportunity to play, to experience fun and laughter and adventure.

Graeme Luke is head of scouting operations at Scouts Scotland.