Squirrels: One Year On…

Twelve months have passed since the Scouts’ newest and youngest section, Squirrels, was rolled out nationwide to groups around the UK.

In a jubilant social media post, it was revealed that 700 groups across the country now have at least one Squirrels Drey with 11,000 four-to-six-year-olds now learning Skills for Life.

In Berkshire, we now have 15 Squirrel Dreys, including two at Pinkneys Green! Among the more recent additions are 18th Maidenhead, who opened their first Drey on 15 September, with four new leaders, a Young Leader and 16 young people, with the potential of even more to come.

Another of our newest Dreys opened at 1st Purley & Pangbourne at the end of September. 12 Squirrels (some of whom are pictured above) have enjoyed a range of activities from making indoor campfires, creating mini bug hotels, learning about fruit and veg, and designing their own carnival headbands.

Katharine, who heads up a new team of adult helpers at the section – including several who are volunteering in the group for the first time – said: “We have been running our Drey for four weeks now. We were really lucky to have great parental engagement and have four parents helping on a regular basis. Whilst it has been a learning curve getting used to the programme and badges, our 12 Squirrels have enthusiastically thrown themselves into every activity we have done, and we are already seeing them grow in confidence each week.”

Beanie, one of two Young Leaders in the Drey, added: “I really enjoy being a Young Leader for Squirrels; it’s amazing how much fun the Squirrels can have with some of the activities.”

Earlier in the year, 1st Ufton Nervet, one of the first Dreys to open in our County, proudly awarded its first Chief Scout’s Acorn Award to Squirrel, Joel (pictured below left), who had worked hard since joining in November – just under a year ago.

Leader and County Local Development Officer, Carly Brims said: “Squirrels is a fantastic addition to the Scouting community, bringing a wealth of opportunities to groups and young people alike. Although originally named after the Red Squirrel native to Brownsea Island, with over 20 groups in Berkshire actively looking into building their own Drey, we think they could just as easily be named after the Flying Squirrel! Our newest section has really taken off and we can’t wait to help bring scouting to more four–to-six-year-olds in the section’s second year.”

We’ll leave the final word to our Chief Scout Bear Grylls, who commented: “I’m so proud of the amazing impact Squirrels has had in such a short space of time. It’s incredible to see so many young people engaged and developing skills for life. But we need to go further to achieve our commitment to help young people and families come back stronger from the pandemic.

“It’s so important that our young people get to enjoy positive and healthy experiences that so many missed out on – especially those in deprived areas. We now need the help of more adult volunteers, so that children everywhere can experience the same life–changing opportunities to gain skills for life.”

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