Scouting is yet another organisation that has suffered from the pandemic. Activities, especially during the summer, are often outside, including hiking, climbing and campfires. Then Covid-19 struck; for three months the scout hut has been a zoom call, the uniforms now pyjamas, the tents now a pillow-fortress in the lounge.

First Hampton Hill Sea Scouts are a local group with a huge focus on all things water-based, such as rowing, kayaking and canoeing. A normal summer would see the scouts flocking to their own boat hut on a weekday evening, followed by a much-loved summer camp in late August. Despite the challenges, First Hampton Hill have been eager to get their programme back and face-to-face, with some adaptations.

Of course, extra precautions have been taken. Elaine, the Scout Section Leader, outlined the changes that have been made; ‘Lots of risk assessment writing, there’s a team of five of us, a lot of late nights reading the rules, and rereading them when they change’. The list continues; a briefing and agreement for scouts and their parents, face masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing. Getting back on the water has been especially hard, limited to experienced members who are able to operate a boat whilst social distancing. Rowing has had to be cancelled due to close proximity within boats.

This careful approach has allowed the programme to run largely as normal. Whilst the popular team building games have been removed, this has only allowed for creative thinking for new games that comply with rules. Elaine explains the scouts have played ‘seated football, and a new game for tonights meeting which is working towards a new digital citizen badge’.

Before the lockdown, summer camp was another item on the agenda. With deposits paid and scouts counting down the days, the pandemic forced this to be altered. First Hampton Hill, however, were determined not to let the sunny August week go to waste and created a summer camp at the back of the scout hut. Although scouts were not allowed to camp overnight (or as Elaine puts it, ‘sitting up all night with their midnight feasts’) and stay for meals, the programme itself ran largely unchanged, with boating and learning alike.

First Hampton Hill are a lucky example of a group emerging from lockdown with a positive outlook. Many other groups have taken a huge toll from Covid-19, with lower meeting turnouts, restrictions on activities due to social distancing, and some still meeting only online. The Scout motto is ‘Be Prepared’, but how could anyone have prepared for this?