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Announcing Squirrels for 4–5 year olds: inspiring a new generation with skills for life

Today the Scouts launch Squirrels, the newest branch in our family tree, giving skills for life to four and five year olds.

We couldn’t be more proud to announce Squirrels: our new programme for 4 and 5 year olds. It’s also a historic milestone for the UK Scout movement. As the first new age range in Scouts for 35 years, we’re helping young people gain skills for life where and when it matters most.

Following two years of pilots and pioneering work in Northern Ireland, 200 Squirrel Dreys have opened in locations across the UK. The focus on the launch is to prioritise communities most affected by the pandemic, and supporting families and young people who’ve fallen behind.

Just like all our sections, Squirrels helps young people gain skills for life – with a focus on the outdoors.  It’s the best of Scouts – learning by doing and getting into the great outdoors – combined with early years best practice of storytelling, routine and play.

Research from Ofsted tells us that children hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are lacking basic skills and learning. We know that what happens in these critical early years, when vital connections are being made in the brain will fundamentally shape their future.

Our programme’s therefore designed to support informal learning and help 4–5-year-olds catch up. It’s about promoting key skills like working together, communication, and language, as well as creativity and community awareness.

Squirrels get active, explore nature and have fun learning with friends, all while earning badges – just like other Scouts. New badges include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.

It’s a positive, safe environment for young children to develop essential skills for life, starting them on a journey to become the active citizens and leaders of the future.

Squirrels steadily branching out to you.

Chief Scout – Bear Grylls Introduces our newest section.

With a programme based on fun, curiosity and discovery Squirrels sets a firm foundation for the future. Launched as part of the Skills for Life plan, this is the first step towards 940 Squirrel Dreys across the country by 2023.

In Mersey Weaver we can’t wait to welcome young people aged 4-5 to our Scout family! We’re incredibly proud to announce that 1st Helsby have been selected as the first group in the local area to offer Squirrels and they will be launching their drey on a Tuesday evening later this Autumn.

We are hoping to expand this section to all areas of the district in 2022 and the majority of our groups by 2023.

Interested in volunteering or know a 4 or 5 year old who’d like to join?

We are ready to start taking registrations of interest for young people approaching or aged 4-5 in the local area. As soon as a Drey opens near you and place becomes available one of our volunteers will be in touch to offer a place. However we are appealing for bright eyed and bushy tailed parents and members of our community to step up and join our Scout family so we can offer this amazing opportunity to young people as soon as possible.

Calling new volunteers!

To support the roll out of Squirrels, we’re now calling for adults, including parents and carers to step forward as part of our #GoodForYou campaign. We’re showing adults how volunteering for Scouts not only helps young people, but is good for them too, supporting wellbeing and building skills for employment and education.

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, is helping launch the new age range: “I’m so glad that younger children now have the chance to join our family of Scouts, and develop skills for life. We know from our pilot programme that 4–5-year-olds can really benefit from the activities that we offer. We believe that by offering opportunities at this early age, inspiring a sense of wonder, fun and curiosity, we can have a long-lasting, positive impact on young people’s lives.”

So if you you fancy branching out are good at fist pumps and tying shoe laces and believe in helping young people aged 4-5 get the very best start in life then please consider joining our family of volunteers. Whatever your skillset, lend a hand for as little or as much time as you can spare, and we promise you’ll get as much out of it as you put in. You don’t need to be Bear Grylls to join us and we’re only able to change lives because ordinary people like you lend a hand. We provide the training. You show up, get stuck in, and make memories for life. Sounds fun? Worthwhile? It is…

Learn more about the Squirrels pilots

Our pilots showed that working with younger children opens up new opportunities for adults (especially parents) to try volunteering with Scouts. New volunteers have also shown an interest in supporting Scouts beyond the pilots and across different roles.

We tested three different models (family-ledpartner-led and Scout-led) through the pilots to understand the best delivery model. They all ran the same programme, which combined the best of Scouts with what we (and the experts) know about young children’s needs.

Read about the pilot project >