As a GSL one of the biggest issues in scouting is the issue of "urban myths" and "local rules", so here's an attempt to debunk / clarify some of the more common ones!
If you understand one thing and have been told something else and aren't sure who to believe please just contact me and we can work it out together 🙂
The following are all based on POR and / or clear guidance from the relevant "head" in the Scout Association (like Andy Sissons and Tony Buttifant - national Nights Away). See relevant POR / Factsheets for more information, and as always things must be legal and risk assessed.
- There is a clear difference between MUST, SHOULD and COULD so please ensure it's applied correctly. DO just consider the perception of others (other leaders, parents, young people and...) if ignoring the SHOULD.
- You do not need to to wearing scout uniform (of any form) to be insured on a scouting activity
- The section regarding photos / videos on our registration form is fine and we do not need to do anything else. We do currently have one child in the Beaver Scout Colony who can be in group shots and without close face ups only so just bear that in mind and check with Sarah, Jess J or I where relevant.
- A physical signature for permission / booking is ONLY required for shooting (which is due to specific legislation)
- Things like our information form, behaviour policy, finance policy and waiting list policy have evolved over time (and do get reviewed by leaders & exec) but don't assume all Groups have anything like them in place. Please do read them through, and ask any relevant questions. We have just found it's easier to be "up front" and manage expectations, as it means far less challenge from parents too - and if challenged gives us a policy we can refer to.
- We encourage all sections to give badges out they night they are earned or as soon as possible afterwards. The boys and girls work for their badges so that should be recognised as soon as possible - and lets be honest even after a few weeks they often forget what they had earned and why! Seeing badges presented most weeks can also encourage / inspire others.
- In all that we do, especially if out and about, simply remember that what we do is how the wider community then views scouting - and remind the young people of that if needed too.
- Each Section splits the young people into smaller groups / teams. In the Scout Troop these are called Patrols, in the Cub Pack they are called Sixes and in the Beaver Colony they are called Lodges. If starting a new Section / needing another group / teams then you usually ask the young people to vote / decide (with "moderation" if needed!)
- If you are on Facebook consider joining the "1st Facebook Scout Group" even if just to read posts by Andy Sissons. He is a national Nights Away Advisor and has done some brilliant, simple ones that are very clear and helpful for getting your head round it all!
- The permit holder does not have to be present for the entire event, although they remain responsible for ensuring they have appropriate people / plans in place. They do have to be there overnight.
- It is possible to take any section abroad (with the right arrangements etc in place.), first step is to discuss with GSL before sharing details / making bookings / taking any monies etc..
- There is no limit to how many consecutive Nights Away any section can do, and all Sections can camp (yes, even Beaver Scouts!)
- Boys and girls can share accommodation (including tents) and do not have to be separated with any form of "barrier" or "screen" etc even if in one big hall. They do have to have access to somewhere separate to change (could be the toilets for example). It's good practice to mention to parents (and our registration form does mention it too). Basically if the young people are happy and feel safe it's fine, # and for the older sections apply practical common sense based on your knowledge of the young people.
- Adults can not be in the same small room / tent as the young people. If in a big hall put adults / YPs in inners or divide off with tables / screens.
- Young Leaders can not be in the same room / tent as either the adults or the young people they work with
- You can put different sections together, so in our case Beavers / Cubs / Scouts
- In emergency / unforseen situations all this can change again though - for example miles from anywhere and a tent destroyed.
- A few examples that are ok:
- One large hall could have boy and girl Beaver scouts, a YL in a tent inner and adults in another tent inner
- Sleepover at the Library could have all the Beaver Scouts in one area, the YLs in another and the adults in another - divided off by the book cases.
- Two rooms with 6 beds in each for 8 boys and 4 girls from Cubs. You could have 2 girls and 4 boys in each room or 6 boys in one room and 4 girls with 2 boys in another room.
- A room with bunk beds for 6 Scouts, 3 girls and 3 boys. Yes they can all be in the same room together - see # above!
Activities & transport
- There are very few banned activities but these are listed in POR 9.67.
- Axe throwing is ok
- It is ok to climb trees and have conker fights (although probably best to avoid doing both at once!)
- Even if you are not charging an entrance fee / a fee for the event you need a licence to show a film. Guidance and costs can be found here
- If you plan to collect funds whilst going round locally, door knocking or even just carol singing on a street corner, you must follow the law and ensure relevant licence (s) are in place. If invited to take part by another organisation you need to see they have them in place before taking part. Read this factsheet
- If in doubt whether something is ok please ask first!
- there is often confusion about whether leaders can transport the YPs in their own vehicles. Please read these two pages from the SA and Unity Insurance carefully before you arrange to do so, check with your insurance company, ensure you follow all SA safeguarding rules - and note that it is your responsibility if you do so.
- Any staged badge (the round blue ones with a number on) are only worn one at a time. So for example if you award someone a stage 2 badge they take the stage 1 off their uniform (and perhaps put it on their camp blanket) and put the stage 2 on their uniform instead
- Some badges are awarded to be worn only for the current / one year, so for example if you attend a District Camp and earn a bade it goes above the round purple membership badge - but comes off in due course.
- If you are not sure about what badge goes where please just ask 🙂
- If a badge is lots then we ask the family to cover the costs of a replacement, and for ease normally round up to the nearest £ and ask them to pay via BACS.
Ratios/ Safeguarding / Risk Assessments
- It is acceptable to put some details of meetings and events into the public domain, for example on our web site. If you think about it the Scout Association wouldn't be able to advertise things like Gilwell 24, nor organisers camps like KIJ, if it wasn't 🙂
- To quote Andy Sissons " Risk Assessments are everything. You do not need to write them down but you do need to be able to justify your actions"
- Ratios are important but safeguarding allows 1 adult to be in charge of multiple young people. We do not have two deep adult supervision requirements (yet!)
- You can transport young people in scouting in your own vehicle but you are liable and it is your responsibility to check out your insurance BEFORE doing so, and to comply with all usual safety rules etc (examples, but not limited to, are wearing seat belts, load limits etc) as well as relevant sections of POR. if you are not 100% sure then ask!
- When looking at ratios Young Leaders can not be counted as adults, but nor do you have to include them as young people
- Normal outdoors / away from normal meeting place / nights away minimum ratios are:
- Beavers 6:1 plus leader in charge (so 2:6 / 3:12 / 4:18 / 5:24 etc)
- Cubs 8:1 plus leader in charge (so 2:8 / 3:16 / 4:24 / 5 : 32 etc)
- Scouts 12:1 plus leader in charge (so 2:12 / 3:24 / 4: 36 etc) BUT if on nights away a minimum of 2, unless the scouts are camping on a passport in which case it's none!)
And the most important bit...