LEADING the way for Scouting in Mid Devon, a new section for children aged four and five, Squirrels, has opened at North Tawton.
The boys and girls were invested by Squirrels’ Leaders Rowena Ford and Toni Steward at their last Thursday session before half-term at North Tawton Rugby Club.
As well as parents, the ceremony was watched by Cllr Liz Brookes-Hocking, Mayor of Crediton, Cllr Bob Tolley, Mayor of Okehampton and Cllr Barry Ratcliffe, West Devon Borough Council member whose Ward includes North Tawton and who lives in the town.
Also there was Trevor Waycott, Mid Devon Scouts District Commissioner, and Phil Roberts, Group Scout Leader for North Tawton who invested Toni Steward as Squirrels Leader. Also invested, but as a Young Leader, was 14 years-old Olivia Edworthy who lives in North Tawton.
Olivia explained that as she wanted to stay in Scouting, becoming a Young Leader was a great opportunity as well as learning how to handle young children, an area she thinks she would like to work in.
Trevor said it was hoped that North Tawton’s Squirrels would be a model for the district.
So far as Phil knows there is a Squirrels at Barnstaple, the first in Devon three years ago before covid, as well as one in Exeter and one in Plymouth.
This is the Scout Association’s first new brand for 35 years to support early years children in learning essential skills for life after the pandemic.
Squirrel members have red uniforms and their own badges. These will include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.
The boys and girls received their blue and white North Tawton neckerchiefs, each of which has a picture of the town clock on the back, their red woggles, a badge and certificate.
More Leaders are always welcome. Phil said there are currently 15 young people on the waiting list for Cubs, 18 for Scouts, and seven for Beavers but the problem was a lack of adult Leaders. He added that the waiting list for Crediton was “huge”.
It is not just a local problem, it is a national one of trying to encourage people to help.
Phil said: “I became a Leader because I love adventure. My son was coming up to six years and wanted to be a Beaver. The two Leaders were giving up.
“I spoke to a friend and we both became Beaver Leaders. That was 19 years ago, I became treasurer at the same time, too. You can do so many things when you are a Leader,” he added.
Rowena said: “We could be more flexible if we had enough Leaders such as sharing sessions more.
“The Squirrel programme is designed to support informal learning and help four and five year-olds catch up. It’s about promoting key skills such as working together, communication and language as well as creativity and community awareness,” she said.
Anyone who would like to know more about becoming a Leader or helping in any way, should please contact Phil on 07775 801 218 or Rowena on 01837 82019.
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