We spoke to Caroline Pantling, who is the Cub Scout Leader with 23rd Chingford Bumblebee Cub Pack, to find out how the group has navigated the challenges of 2020 and found inspiring ways to keep their young people healthy and active despite the challenges that Covid has presented.
When and why did you choose to get involved with Scouts?
I’d previously worked in museum education and loved devising and delivering activities for families. When my role changed and I realised I had stopped doing as much of this kind of work as I wanted to, I decided to volunteer with the Cubs so I could use some of my creativity to deliver interesting and exciting sessions for our young people.
What makes Scouts such a good initiative for children to get involved with?
Scouts provides a great opportunity for kids to enjoy activities and learning in a non-school setting. So many children struggle with learning in a more formal setting or feel like they aren’t as successful as their peers, but at Scouts as long as you try your best you will succeed. I love to see young people’s confidence grow as they spend more time with our Pack.
Why is it important for you to incorporate activities that teach young people about living a healthy life?
Scouts is about supporting young people to achieve their potential. By enabling them to make healthy choices and to have a healthy lifestyle, we’re helping them on this journey.
We run a range of sessions that revolve around physical activity so that we can ensure every child has the opportunity to get involved in health and wellbeing in a way that suits them. For instance, we know not all of our children like to be involved in competitive sports, and so we run some activities which don’t require them to race against their friends. By encouraging physical activity in a non-competitive environment, such as having a go at a dance exercise class, we see the children’s confidence rise.
What are the biggest challenges for young people staying healthy in 2020? What can parents, carers and young people themselves do to overcome these challenges?
During the first lockdown in Spring 2020, the weather was getting warmer and there was a lot of encouragement for people to go outside and do their hour of exercise. However, over the winter I expect people are going to feel less motivated to go outside and do exercise and this will impact on their physical and mental health. To combat this, we’ll be encouraging our Cub Pack members to set themselves small challenges throughout winter that they can use to keep themselves motivated and to maintain the good habits they built around going outside for fresh air and exercise earlier in the year.
What are some of the most unique activities that your Beavers/Cubs have tried their hand at through the Cub Our Skills Challenge badge?
Over the last couple of years, we’ve run a range of different activities for our young people to get them involved in the Our Skills Challenge badge. We took part in a Marvel Superhero inspired game to teach the children problem-solving skills, we sewed poppy badges for Remembrance Day and we took part in a mince pie making relay race!
We also hosted a quiz for the Cubs which required them to taste different fruits whilst blindfolded. They had to guess which fruits had the most sugar in them using only their taste buds, which taught them about their sense of taste and also the importance of making healthy food choices when possible.
The activities we run as part of the Our Skills Challenge badge are designed to reinforce the importance of teamwork, collaboration and supporting others. These are critical skills for Young People to learn and as they progress with the Cubs, we can see them begin to apply these skills to other activities instinctively.
Why is it important for young people to learn these skills?
The Our Skills Challenge badge is one of the most useful badges for children to achieve as it requires them to practice such a diverse range of skills. You can design activities which appeal to a range of learning styles and ultimately the badge provides an opportunity for us to build the self-confidence of all of our Cubs.
On a practical level, learning to put a tent is a very useful skill for the Cubs to gain before they go on camp. We’ve also heard from parents and carers that the skills their young people have learned through this badge such as how to make a cup of team, has been carried on by the children at home.
As a leader, the Our Skills Challenge badge enables us to develop the Cubs’ teamwork and listening skills, which enables them to become more supportive and collaborative members of the Pack.