Scout Association announces new Squirrel groups for four and five-year-olds with plans for 200 Squirrel Dreys in three years
The Scout Association is opening a new group for four and five-year olds called Squirrels.
Joining cubs, beavers and scouts the group for early years children will help them learn 'essential skills for life' with an emphasis on having outdoor adventures, making friends and learning new things.
The launch is the first new addition to Scouts for 35 years - the last new age range to open was Beaver Scouts for 6 and 7-year-olds in 1986.
New Squirrel 'dreys' will be open to both boys and girls, with plans to open 200 groups in the initial stage of the roll-out.
Priority is set to be given to communities most affected by the pandemic which require support to rebuild - successful pilot programmes have already been running say organisers which have 'particularly flourished' in Black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities and areas of deprivation.
The Scout Association points to Ofsted research, which suggests that in communities hardest hit by the pandemic early years children aged four and five have returned less confident.
It is hoped that Squirrels will be able to reach at least 12,000 families within the first three years.
The tailor-made programme comes with an entirely new set of badges for children to work towards and collect that will include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.
Crafted to help children develop teamwork, communication, creativity and core skills activities such as pitching a blanket tent while making new friends, planting seeds or learning how to spend 50p in a local shop could be among the tasks they take part in.
But in order to make the expanded programme a success, The Scout Association says it will need to recruit thousands of volunteers and is calling for helpers to step forward as part of its #GoodForYou campaign.
Matt Hyde, CEO, explained: “Squirrels is part of our commitment to help young people, families and communities come back stronger from the pandemic. Our mission at Scouts is to equip young people with skills for life, and what we learn up to 5-years-old lays the building blocks for everything that follows.
"If you’re four, you’ve spent a third of your life in lockdowns. We know this has especially impacted children in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. That’s why we are opening the first Squirrel dreys in the communities that need it most.
He added: “To scale up this new programme we need support from volunteers, partners and donors to help us reach even more young people.”
To learn more about the new Squirrels group and for more details on registering your interest click here.