Blog | Summer camps with younger Sections
Taking Beavers or Cubs away on summer camp can be an absolute joy. This age group can really relish being away from home. However, for many in this age group, a camp can be their first time away from home, which can bring challenges for young people, Leaders and parents. We’ve gathered some tips to help you prepare for summer camps with our younger Sections.
Indoors or outdoors?
Nothing beats the adventure of camping outdoors but this can be a daunting prospect with some of our very youngest members, so it’s worth remembering that a summer camp can be just as much fun using indoor accommodation. Scouts Scotland’s National Activity Centres offer indoor options, and our new Sir Garth Morrison Lodge at Fordell Firs is perfectly set up to cater for the needs of younger groups. The accommodation is spread out on one floor, Leaders have en-suite facilities, and the spacious dining room and kitchen is ideal for eating and preparing meals.
How long should your camp be?
Historically summer camps have been a minimum of five nights away, but there is no reason why you can’t make your camp longer or shorter, depending on your group’s needs and Leaders’ availability. Previously the maximum camp duration permitted for Beavers was one night but this restriction was removed in 2015, giving you the flexibility and freedom to plan longer, more adventurous trips.
Keeping parents in the loop
As with any Scout Camp, you need parental consent in writing to take under-18s away, which you can obtain using a Nights Away Information form. You need to think about how you will communicate with parents before and during you camp and in the case of emergency. The InTouch system is particularly useful for this.
Parents of younger children may have lots of questions and concerns so hold a parents’ meeting, and make sure you collect information about young people’s dietary or medical requirements and provide parents with an equipment list. You could invite parents along to volunteer. Just make sure they have a valid PVG certificate if they are staying overnight and be aware that the application process for this can be up to six weeks.
Planning your camp programme
Ask your Beavers or Cubs what they would like to do. For Beavers, camp activities could form the theme of a Log Chew.
The emphasis for this age group should be games and themes but camps are a great opportunity to introduce adventurous activities to this age group. Badges like the My Outdoor Challenge Award or the Thistle Award can work really well as a camp theme for this age group. Maybe the young people will have their own ideas for a theme!
Think about the pace of your programme. This age group may tire easily but be wary of having too much spare time, as this is when there is a greater risk of accidents, injury or unhappiness. Arrange for some supervised games or light activities during quieter periods.
Give some thought to how you’ll keep your Beavers or Cubs occupied in the evening. Evening activities for Beavers should be designed to calm them down and prepare them for sleeping.
Check your adult to child ratios
The minimum ratio for Beavers is one adult to six young people, plus one adult who is in charge. So if you were planning to lead a camp of 18 Beavers you would need to recruit at least four adult helpers to stay overnight. For Cubs the minimum ratio is one adult to eight young people, plus a camp leader. So for a group of 24 Cubs, you’d need four adults. Remember, you can strengthen your volunteer team by inviting extra volunteers to come along as a day visitor or by operating a rota system to help Leaders fit camp responsibilities around personal or work commitments.
Team up with others
If you are unsure whether you have the resources or skills to lead your own camp for Beavers or Cubs, you could always team up with other Sections within your Group, or even other Groups, and join their camp. This will be a great induction for you and the young people will benefit from being part of a larger camp. Look out for organised camps appropriate for your Section too. Scouts Scotland’s National Activity Centres regularly host events that might serve as the perfect first step towards holding your own.