We spoke to Lisa Stevenson and Paul Scholes from 2nd Stamford Town Scout Group about why it’s important for young people to learn about healthy living from an early age and how they’ve adapted to keep their Beavers moving in 2020.
Lisa is the Pack’s Beavers Section Leader and Paul leads the Cub Scouts.
When and why did you choose to get involved with Scouts?
L: I got involved with Scouts as a parent first in 2013 when my eldest son was a Beaver. Initially, I helped out as part of the parent rota. Sadly, the Stamford Beavers Colony closed soon after he moved up to Cubs until, in 2016, I supported a new Section Leader to set up the colony again. After a couple of months, the Beaver Pack was proving so popular that I started a second Colony for the group on the other side of town and became Section Leader. I now run both 2nd Stamford Town Beaver colonies with a brilliant team of Assistant Leaders.
P: I had benefited from Scouts as a youth member. Being involved in Scouts gave me both friends and skills for life, so I wanted to give something back. I also love being outdoors and getting children outside and interacting with nature.
What makes Scouts such a good initiative for children to get involved with?
L: Scouting provides an opportunity for children to take part in a broad range of activities that they wouldn’t do at school. The programmes we run teach the children how to work as a team, challenge themselves, try new skills and activities – both inside and outside, and mental and physical – learn about the world around them, support their community and also how to reflect and form their own moral code. And of course, we also have lots of fun!
P: Being a Beaver, Cub, Scout or Explorer provides young people with the opportunity to be part of different teams and they develop the confidence to start leading teams.
Through the Beavers Health and Fitness Activity badge and the Cubs Our Skills Challenge award, Scouts give children the chance to try new foods and to learn about the beneficial effect that eating healthy food has on their physical and mental health. 2nd Stamford Town Scouts is a very active and physical group, and we teach our Beavers and Cubs that by being fuelled with a healthy diet, they’re supporting their growth and development.
How does teaching young people about healthy lifestyles and how they can become more healthy themselves benefit them?
L: Scout is one big community and all members, both children and adults, benefit by being a part of it. As Pack leaders, we’re supported to deliver sessions that teach the children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. They’re rewarded for their achievements, such as developing new, healthy habits, with badges such as the Beavers Health and Fitness Activity badge.
These skills give them the confidence to succeed in life. It’s been very rewarding to see the children who started Beavers when we first set up the colonies move up to Scouts as confident and happy young people.
What are the biggest challenges for young people staying healthy in 2020?
Unfortunately, there is too much screen time and not enough physical activity in a lot of young people’s lives. To try to combat this, we try to run active sessions whenever possible and we look for opportunities to provide fresh fruit to our Beavers and Cubs for example during camps. We know that feeding them healthy food keeps them energised and focused on the activities, even on the hottest of summer days.
What are some of the unique activities that your Beavers have tried their hand at through the Beavers Health and Fitness Activity Badge?
L: The Health and Fitness badge has given us a scaffolding to teach the Beavers what they need to do to keep their bodies healthy whilst also having fun! Scouts is known for its outdoor adventures and being active is an important part of Scouting. We teach our Beavers about being healthy through the Health and Fitness badge, and we also try to make health and fitness part of normal everyday life, so that our Beavers begin to build a habit of being fit and active.
We’ve run lots of fun sessions over the years for the Health and Fitness badge. Our Highland Games night involved wellie wanging, shot putt, sock flinging and even a tug of war. We also ran a knight themed camp one year, during which the Beavers took part in knight training which involved an obstacle course on ‘horse-back’ and attempts to ‘slay the dragon’, by throwing water bombs and jousting.
Our Beavers also take part in the district swimming gala each year, have completed orienteering courses and been on several hikes. We try to offer more adventurous activities too, and some of our Beavers have been brave enough to try tobogganing, rock climbing and various water sports.
How have you adapted throughout 2020 to keep your Beavers healthy and active?
Lockdown in March meant that we could no longer run face to face activities and both leaders and Beavers had to adapt to virtual Scouting. This didn’t stop the colony being active though and many of our Beavers found ingenious ways to complete part or all of their Health and Fitness badge.
Initially, we set the Beavers challenges designed to keep them fit and active. They did Joe Wick’s workouts, joined in with Scouts’ ‘Hike to the Moon’ and sent us pictures of the exercises they were doing or the bike rides they were going on. We also saw our Beavers creating garden-based obstacle courses, treasure hunts, three-course healthy dinners for their families and healthy eating quizzes.
Since we’ve been able to run sessions face-to-face again, we have had the new challenge of completing activities whilst social distancing. We’ve kept our Beavers active by creating a cycle track around the field where we meet, to enable them to practice their cycling skills. We also ran a disability awareness night, which showed the Beavers how physical limitations don’t prevent a person from being fit and active. They completed a wheelchair workout and a blindfolded obstacle course.
In 2020, our Beavers have demonstrated how resilient they are. We’ve been so proud of how they have adapted to the new way of doing things and how they have shown the confidence to teach and lead others – something that Scouting strives to achieve in their members.
Many parents and carers have told that seeing their young people get involved in healthy activities through the Beavers has encouraged them to get active too and to enjoy activities that they hadn’t done in years. It’s very easy to stay inactive today, and I’m proud of the way the Scouting community is getting the whole family involved to build healthier lifestyles.