Online Inspiration for your Beaver Colony
by Owen Forrest, Scotland Commissioner (Beavers)
Returning to running Beavers online after the Christmas break has been difficult for many of us, and it's been a real challenge to keep things fresh, interesting, and engaging. But, it makes me immensely proud to say that our Leaders have once again risen to the challenge, and I’m constantly amazed by the fantastic things I see Colonies doing!
Below are just a few of the most interesting, unusual, and creative things I’ve been fortunate enough to see Colonies trying for their online programmes. Why not try some of them out?
Pre-Scheduled Nights – Beavers Back to Basics
One Colony has made extensive use of the post-scheduling feature on Facebook to overcome obstacles they had running live nights. Each week, the Leaders organise a series of activities and games for the Beavers to try out and write a series of posts describing what the Beavers should do (with pictures and videos).
These posts are then set to appear in their dedicated Colony Facebook group at specified times throughout their regular Colony meeting time, giving the Beavers and their parents/guardians a sense that the session is happening in real-time, and allowing the Leaders to relax and enjoy the activities themselves without the usual pressures of running the session.
With their parents/guardians, Beavers and Leaders can post photos of their results and comment on what they see each-other doing, giving them the benefits of live interaction, but without requiring them to be sat at a Zoom screen. Additionally, once the session is over, the posts remain available for the group to see, allowing anyone who missed the session to try the activities at a later date.
One session was aimed towards their newer Colony members and was themed around the basic skills needed to be a Beaver Scout. Download the full programme below:
Mystery Envelopes – Pioneering Skills
To add an element of excitement/surprise to their evening, one Group experimented with distributing mystery envelopes to their members in advance of their weekly sessions. Sealed envelopes with instructions, hints, or materials were hand-delivered to individual members (who are advised to follow usual post quarantining procedures), and are not to be opened until the next Colony meeting. The Beavers then join each-other on Zoom and open their envelopes together as the Leaders reveal their task for the evening. This approach has been used to create murder mysteries, spaghetti-and-marshmallow pioneering tasks, lollipop stick catapults, and knotting challenges.
My personal favourite was a pioneering challenge, where Beavers were given cotton wool, paper, elastic bands, feathers, and other craft materials and were challenged to create a parachute/casing for an egg to stop it from breaking when dropped. This approach also cleverly solves the issue of parents/guardians having to individually source materials each week to take part in activities.
External Providers – District-Wide Programming
To ensure that all of their Beavers had equal opportunity to participate in live sessions, one District has put together a series of online sessions open to all Colonies. They arranged for a variety of different external providers to run sessions over five weeks, with joining/registration instructions sent to every Beaver in the District. The sessions covered a massive variety of activities including; Fun with Chickens, Interactive Science Class, Horrible Histories, Reptile Time, and Marvellous Magic.
These sessions have also prompted Colonies within the District to open activity sessions that they had already arranged themselves to everyone, getting more Beavers involved and having fun. This is a particularly good approach when an external provider can accommodate many more Beavers than you have in your own Colony – the activity provider will likely be grateful that you’ve filled the session to capacity. This is also a great way that your Colony can still engage with the local community – why not see if there are any sessions you can arrange with businesses/groups in your area?
When we do return to in-person Beaver Scouting, I hope we don’t forget about all of the new and exciting ways we’ve developed for running Beavers, instead, let's use everything we’ve learned to produce some of the best Beaver Scout programmes we’ve ever had!
I’d love to hear about your experiences running Beavers online. If there’s anything particularly exciting you’ve done that you’d like to share, anything you’re finding particularly challenging, or if you’d like to invite me to join you for a session, please get in touch at email@example.com.
Keep at it!
Scotland Commissioner (Beavers)