All Colony Meetings should have an emphasis on having fun while encouraging Beaver Scouts to feel good about themselves, their friends and family, God and nature. The idea of a balanced program is to try to ensure that the children learn basic social skills and gain self confidence.
At the 9th Barking & Dagenham Beaver Scout Colony our program consists of a variety of games, crafts, storytelling, playacting, discovery and the outdoors. The activities that are planned for each week incorporate teamwork and self recognition. That is to say that each child is treated as an individual, displaying personal characteristics and skills whilst developing many group skills.
Themes for Beaver Scouts can be based on just about every aspect of life. From learning about how things work to looking at personal beliefs and attitudes. The Beaver Scout badges offer a great bank of resources and can be used not only for working towards and gaining but to encourage growth. Although our Colony plans its themes for meeting nights on a term time basis we are also very aware and mindful that as leaders we must ensure that changes can occur. This is why it is important to include flexible back up programs to continue a balanced variety of games and activities. These are often made up or prepared in advance to use in the event of change.
The beaver animal does not live inside. It exists and survives by living around and within water (outside). Planning outdoor themes (whilst making sure that you adhere to the Scout Association's policies, organisation and rules) is an essential part of the Beaver program. Our District has regular weekend day events where the children are given the opportunity to explore, learn and have incredible fun. Programs can be built around the lead up to outdoor activities. This can add excitement and reinforces the aim of the theme. However caution is required as there may be some Beaver Scouts who are not able to take part in the actual outdoor element of the program. For example, some of our children were not going to be attending a group campfire evening; therefore we held an 'indoor' campfire during our Colony meeting to ensure that everyone was included.
The Beaver Scout themes incorporate what is known as 'zones'. There are 6 zones in total:
- Beliefs and Attitudes
- Outdoor and Adventure
The structure of our Colony meeting usually includes a “coming in ceremony”, a first game to help the children relax and build their relationships with each other, followed by an activity. Most Colonies offer refreshments during their meetings, this again encourages the children to strengthen their social skills. The evening ends by playing more games that are usually chosen by our Young Leaders or by the Beaver Scouts themselves. To close we hold a 'Closing Lodge' ceremony followed by the saying of the Beaver Scout promise.
Colony games are often ones that have been learned by the children themselves in the play ground or are made up by the leaders / helpers. The beauty of playing games which have been made up is that they can be easily adapted to suit the evening's theme. On many an occasion we have given a game a different title and slightly tweaked it so that it blends in with that particular night's activities.
As leaders we try to ensure that games are not repeated within a 4 weekly rotation. This keeps them fresh and enjoyable for everyone. We have a game booklet / card that lists past, present and new games which can be used to randomly chose from. The children are encouraged to make their own game choices should time permit during the meeting. We try to make sure that all Beaver Scouts get to make a choice over a period of time.
Games can vary in content; from the traditional team game, individual, lively and quiet to very noisy and fast moving. They can also be used to achieve an aim during the Colony meeting. For example, if the children need to calm down somewhat, quiet games come in very handy and ensure that the Beavers are still having fun, which is paramount for all game planning.
The Beaver Scouts need a balanced program which includes balanced activities. Making cards or models each week does not give them a realistic view of the different methods of learning. Activities can be anything from craft to putting up a small tent, climbing a bouldering wall or completing a Colony project to show their parents, gain badges or for a charity. All of which must have a purpose. There are occasions when our Colony will choose to have a 'games' or 'anything goes' evening, but all in all part of our planning as leaders involves looking at activities carefully and ensuring that fun and learning take place.
As with all activity planning, be mindful of realistic approaches. Deciding to make a Colony collage can only be achieved with the right resources. As leaders in our Colony we are excellent at communicating with each other and always ensure that whatever is needed for an evening is available. This is important in order for your planned meeting to run smoothly without too many hitches. (Though of course not all Colony evenings run according to plan).