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Beaver Scouts, often shortened to Beavers, is the youngest section of Scouting operated by The Scout Association in the United Kingdom. The core age range for Beaver Scouts is six to eight years, though exceptions can be granted. Individual sections of Beaver Scouts, known as a Colony, are run by the local Scout Group. After reaching the age of eight, a Beaver Scout will then move on to Cub Scouts.
Since the creation of Scouting in 1907, many younger brothers wanted to join in with their older siblings. This led to the creation of Wolf Cubs (now known simply as Cub Scouts) in 1916 but there was still pressure from the younger brothers to become involved.
The first Pre-Cub scheme was set up in Northern Ireland by the 1st Dromore Group in 1963 and was called The Little Brothers. As the scheme expanded throughout the rest of the province, it was given the official name of 'Beavers' in 1966, this name having been considered by Robert Baden-Powell when creating Wolf Cubs. The following years saw the development of the uniform, age-range and general organisation before the section was re-named Beaver Scouts in 1974.
Beaver Scouts were trialed in Scotland after the Wellbeloved Report supported Pre-Cub organisations. In October 1982 Beaver Scouts were introduced throughout the rest of the United Kingdom before officially becoming part of The Scout Association and the World Scout Organisation on 1 April 1986. Since then, Beaver Scouting has been a major part of the Scout Programme in the United Kingdom, and has a large participation rate across most of the country. Most Scout Groups have at least one Colony, and can have as many as three or four.
Beaver Scout Colonies are controlled by the local Scout Group, which usually also have Cub Scout and Scout sections. The Colonies are run by a Beaver Scout Leader, who must hold a warrant. There must also be at least two other adults, one of whom must also hold a warrant. Other adults who assist in running the Colony can include: Assistant Beaver Scout Leaders, uniformed and warranted adults; Colony Assistants, who may or may not wear uniform but assist regularly; parent helpers, who may irregularly help as part of a rota scheme with other parents and Young Leaders. A Colony is recommended to have a maximum number of 24 members.
Colonies usually meet once a week during school term time, meeting times varying between an hour and an hour and a half. The emphasis for Beaver Scouts is on having fun, so a meeting involves playing games, and some sort of activity – such as painting, cooking or acting. Beaver Scouts are also taught about the basic aspects of Scouting, though much of this is left for older sections. Beavers also can go on organised indoor sleepovers but unlike older sections they are prohibited from camping by government legislation because of the ages of the members.
The core age range for Beaver Scouts is between six and eight years of age. Some members, however, can join up to three months before their sixth birthday or leave for Cub Scouts up to six months after their eighth birthday. Deviations on when members join or leave Beavers can be made upon the discretion of the leader depending on the circumstances; for example, it may be decided that a member will stay on in Beaver Scouts for some time after their eighth birthday in order to join Cubs with a friend if the leader feels the member's chances of staying in Scouting will be increased if they are allowed to move up with their friend. Other exceptions can also be made on medical grounds, for example if a member has special needs.
The Beaver Scout promise is a simpler version of the Scout promise:
- I promise to do my best,
- To be kind and helpful,
- and to love God.
The Beaver Scouts share the general Scout Motto of Be Prepared. Prior to 2002, the motto was Fun and Friends, which is reflected in the usual programme for the section, which makes use of play to put across Scouting ideas of friendship and community.
Awards and Badges
Beaver Scouts can gain three Challenge badges, eleven activity badges, six staged activity badges and, their highest award, the Chief Scout's Bronze Award.
The Challenge badges are the Outdoor Challenge, Discovery Challenge and Friendship Challenge. These are normally completed during the Colony meetings.
The activity badges are Adventure, Air Activities, Animal Friend, Creative, Experiment, Explore, Faith, Health & Fitness, Healthy Eating, Hobbies, Imagination and Safety. These badges are usually done as individuals but can also be done as a Colony. There are also several staged activity badges. These badges have different stages which can be expanded upon in different sections; for example, the stage one Information Technology badge could be completed in Beaver Scouts and then the stage two badge completed in Cub Scouts. Staged activity badges are for members between the age of 6 and 18, and it may be inpractical for Beaver Scouts to complete some some stages of these badges. The staged activity badges are Emergency Aid, Hikes Away, Information Technology, Musician, Nights Away and Swimmer. With the exception of the Nights Away badge, these are generally done individually.
The Chief Scouts's Bronze Award is the highest award available in the Beaver Scout section. It is gained by completing the Outdoor Challenge, and either the Friendship or Discovery Challenge, plus a personal challenge.
The Beaver Scout uniform is a turquoise sweatshirt and group scarf (neckerchief) with navy blue activity trousers. Prior to 2003, it was a grey speckled jumper and turquoise scarf.
- Scouting Ireland Beaver Scouts
- Beavers (Scouting)
- Age Groups in Scouting and Guiding
- Grasshopper Scouts
- "Notes for New Adults in the Colony". ScoutBase. http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/facts/pdfs/fs715501.pdf. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- "The Scout Group: The Beaver Scout Colony". ScoutBase. http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/por/2006/3_7.htm#rule_3.7. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- "Rule 3.11 Section flexibility". ScoutBase. http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/por/2006/3_11.htm#rule_3.11. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
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