A new way to provide Scouting to more young people.
I think everyone can say that the last twelve months have been difficult for everyone and the effects have been seen far and wide including in Scouting.
I am sure some of you will have seen on national news that voluntary groups have been hit hard with not being able to meet in the normal way and support members and funds. The Scouting national body has even had to put up for sale assests to keep the movement going.
But despite all this we still have thousands of young people wanting to take part in Scouting.
In January we all took part in the nationwide census of membership, where we ask all groups and sections to report back the adults and young people that they have in sections but also on their waiting lists. In that census Wokingham groups reported a decline in Young people in sections, a decline in adults but an increase in young people on their “Want to Join” lists.
The currently reported number of young people of age inside the Wokingham Scouting District looking for a space in our 10 groups stands at 501 young people.
This number has continued to grow depsite opening a new Group in Finchampstead and trying to find adults to open more sections in the Montague Park School and sustain the groups we have today. So we need to look differently at the Scouting provision in Wokingham for those on our lists and give them some access to Scouting.
One things the pandemic has taught us is that with technology and flexibility, activities can continue and bring many everyday norms to people and families, and with that in mind we hope to shortly open a new style of Scout Group call 101st Wokingham.
101st Wokingham will offer blended Scouting to young people of age on our “Want to Join” lists whilst they cannot access traditional Scouting. The thought being that just because there is no physical space in a Group why should that child of age not have access to Scouting in a slightly different format.
The blended format that 101st Wokingham will offer will be a mix of parent led at home, online via Zoom or Teams and face to face activities on a monthly basis – when National Youth Agency and Scouting rules allow. Then when a space becomes available in a traditional group the child will have the option to transfer having started their Scouting journey with badges, awards and memories.
Of course if we have enough adult support we can move a large block of young people to a new physical location and kick start a completely new group.
As a member of 101st Wokingham the young person will have access to all the traditional type activities and events as a traditional member but not the regular face to face sessions. We hope as times change and with the correct adult support we could offer a monthly face to face session. Because the member would have access to the badge requirements they could be working on badges and take them over to a traditional section as and when space allows.
Of course the blended approach may suit some members and they could remain in 101st certainly all through Beavers and Cubs. At this time we have not considered how a blended Scout section would work.
The 101st Wokingham web page will fully go live in early April and hopefully its first members will be offered spaces shortly afterwards.