Scout Adventures – How we managed Expeditions in 2020

Scout Adventures – How we managed Expeditions in 2020

Some of the advantages of outdoors and outdoor learning are identified as resilience and perseverance. The last year has tested our skills of reliance and perseverance to the limit and many people are learning things about themselves they never thought possible.

DofE expeditions have been put on hold due to restrictions. Or have they?

Many DofE groups have been able to run expeditions and provision has been happening. It may not look the same as a traditional expedition but leaders have been determined to allow participants to challenge themselves and complete the awards.

As one of Scotland's largest AAP providers Scout Adventures Lochgoilhead was able to run a limited expedition programme last year and allowed over 200 young people to progress with their awards.

Our model for delivery of expeditions changed a number of times to make sure they were completed in line with government guidance that was in place at the time of the expedition. The guidance changed due to tier systems and travel restrictions meaning adaptation and flexibility from everyone involved was the key to running a successful programme.

We started the day with four plans covering a range of outcomes

Plan A - residential expeditions run from Lochgoilhead
Plan B - an expedition in a local hill area to the group with an overnight aspect using a scout camp sites and single tents
Plan C - an expedition in a local hill area with no overnight and participants returning home to sleep and returning for second expedition day
Plan D- extra urban expedition using local area to the home base with a focus on urban exploration and limited travel requirements

Each of our plans had outlined routes so that we knew each was viable as well as risk assessed operational plans to make sure that these could be run safely. This helped reassure parents and participants but allowed people with a safety oversight role to agree that the expeditions were possible. The range of plans also reassured everyone involved that it would be possible to run an expedition of some kind on the dates set.

A few key hints and tips that helped us

Be flexible
Plan ahead with options
Check kit thoroughly as most will have been unused for some time.
Ensure your plans are risk assessed and share risk assessments and processes with everyone involved including the groups.
Think about group size carefully and separate groups in line with the restrictions.
Plan for transport and how to fit into travel restrictions.
Review guidance regularly for any changes and adaptations required.
Communicate with participants and parents clearly from the start of planning phases.
Try to select aims that will make urban expeditions more engaging: “Take an urban safari. Take as many pictures of animal forms as possible in the city. Think about monuments, gargoyles, fountains and lots more animal shapes”

We worked closely with DofE on our expeditions and were able to ask questions around the changes to the rules to help young people access the DofE programme. DofE have now extended the changes to the rules until 2022. By extending the changes it should allow leaders to plan ahead and be reassured that any plans made should be appropriate under DofE rules for some time. The bigger challenge is to keep updated on rules and guidance around what we are able to do as Scouts. Keep engaged with Scouts Scotland and Scouts UK who will issue guidance and interpreted government guidance around what we are able to do and when.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the lockdown and pandemic has had a large effect on young people through lack of engagement with others and restrictions on their ability to do their normal activities. If we have plans and programmes available it will give young people a focus and direction but the process of expeditions and spending time with peer groups will be part of the healing process going forward. Children will benefit from achievement and confidence building given through expeditions. Young people have aced the resilience and perseverance but need support going forward with reminding them how to be a young person again.

Good luck. Plan ahead and be ready for anything!

Neil Baird
Centre manager
Scout Adventures Lochgoilhead