Top Tips and Tricks for Online Youth-led Scouting
Scout Groups around the world are now challenged to maintain a sense of community and adventure and Scouters in Canada are currently experimenting with ways to facilitate meaningful and adventurous programs that follow The Canadian Path virtually. All Scouters should be commended for taking on this challenge. These tips, tricks and activities can help your Section get the most out of Virtual Scouting while we continue physical distancing.
For Beaver Scouts, technology poses many challenges. Each Beaver will have a different ability to engage with online meetings. Keep your meetings short and simple. Beavers are energetic and tend to have short attention spans. This is even more true online. Keep your meetings for this age group between 15 and 30 minutes maximum. Beavers love sharing circles where they get to share what they are up to at home. Set a weekly Colony challenge and provide an opportunity in sharing circle time to for the Beavers to share their experiences. Beavers may also enjoy talking about special upcoming events, like birthdays. And they love recognition for the completion of badges! A basic adventure plan for Beavers could include a welcoming, one or two activities, and then a sharing time for adventures that are happening at home. Finding ways to incorporate active engagement for this age group is also helpful for their squirmy bodies. Why not create a yoga stretching activity or an active scavenger hunt?
Cubs will benefit from a wide array of activities that encompass basic Outdoor Adventure Skills (OAS). The virtual environment is a great place to discuss some of the more conversation-based OAS competencies, like discussing Emergency Aid scenarios. There’s plenty to do besides Outdoor Adventure Skills, of course. Why not screen share and take your Cubs on a virtual field trip? Virtual field trips are commonly found on websites for zoos, aquariums, science centres, art galleries and history museums. After a virtual field trip, Cubs could join in another related activity or discussion. Howlers can play an active role in leading these meetings for the rest of the Pack. To keep your online meetings youth-led, ask the Cubs what they are interested in. There is a wide variety of online learning opportunities available that you may not have at your regular meeting space. Finally, encourage Cubs to take turns setting challenges for each other for things that they can do to build their Scouting life at home. 1st Drayton Valley Pack, for example, recently shared a youth-led challenge: building snow forts! Remember to provide them with the opportunity to share their successes each week. Cub meetings can be slightly longer than Beaver meetings, but should still be no more than 45 minutes in length.
Scouts can often get used to online adventures better than their Scouters, as they frequently explore and adapt to technology more quickly than the average adults. Make sure to involve your tech-inclined Scouts when planning Troop meetings! Why not have Patrols take turns running online meetings? Some online activities you can try: Scouting Feud (a play on Family Feud), scavenger hunts, virtual campfires, Kahoot, talent shows, Outdoor Adventure Skills how-to’s, virtual escape rooms, minute-to-win-it games and virtual team-building initiatives. Playmeo is a great subscription resource for finding online virtual-team building activities that can be used over video-sharing platforms. Scouts can also explore platforms like GroupMe (remember the Two-Scouter Rule) to engage in texting type challenges.
20th Scarborough West has started an April service project where Scouts are writing and sending email thank-you messages to community heroes, like front-line workers. Group Commissioner Geoffrey Ellis says that the “digital service project allows us to spread a message of hope and support to our community members.” Many other communities across the country need messages like these right now; why not get your Group involved in a similar project?
Online meeting platforms offer unique adventure tools along with unique challenges. When beginning to use these platforms, it is vital to your success to ensure that all youth have a grasp on how to use them, as well as virtual meeting etiquette. Take a few moments in your first meeting to go over best practices to ensure that the adventures are fun for everyone! You can use screen sharing to show other resources, breakout rooms for Patrols and small teams, and non-verbal feedback (like a thumbs-up) to help with engagement and communication.
Engaging virtual platforms ensure that all participants are actively involved. You can do this by providing plenty of opportunities for comments, questions and reactions. Finally, to help minimize background noise and distractions, mute all participants’ mics when they enter the video room.
This is the time for the Scouting community to truly “Do Its Best”. This involves not only ensuring we are physical distancing, but also engaging with youth in innovative ways.