Beavering in the New Millennium
Proposal for Enhancement of the Beaver Program
National Program Committee
After 25 years, itís time to make a good thing better. The youngest members of our movement are very different in 1999 than they were in the 1970's. Things have changed significantly in their world, and our program must make an effort to keep up.
Over time, the elements of the Beaver program have in large part narrowed to the traditional songs, stories, crafts and games in a repetitive cycle. Although they will remain part of the program in the future, by themselves, they can unnecessarily restrict the range of possibilities and opportunities that Leaders consider as they develop their programs.
Coupling these concerns with our overall renewed emphasis on OUT, this proposal seeks to change the mind set from two perspectives: What we do and where we do it. At the same time, the linkage to other sections in Scouting will be reinforced.
Turnover of youth and leaders is the highest at the Beaver Level. We must do two things as a result of this: (1) recognize it and then try to adjust the program to meet the needs of these participants, and (2) work toward changing this unfortunate reality by correcting any problems we have that are contributing to it. Did program beget turnover, or did turnover beget program? If we can successfully enhance the program, the turnover should look after itself.
There are seven main Goals of "Beavering", as stated in the Beaver Leader Handbook:
We should continue to focus on activities that incorporate all of these goals in a well rounded manner without singling out and focusing on any one or two of them.
Scouting is successful partly because of our focus on the individual, which is facilitated by working in small groups - lodges, sixes, patrols, etc. A key element of Beavers is the use of tail levels and lodges as the means to concentrate on similar, and at other times diverse, groups of youth. This organizational aspect should be retained and used throughout the program whenever appropriate, depending on the activity.
Although a shift in program emphasis is proposed (in other words, how we meet these goals), it is not as broad sweeping as might be expected. Uniforms should remain as they are and Ceremonies (opening, closing, etc.) will remain as vital to Beavers as they are to the other levels. The Law, Motto, and Promise will continue to be as important as they ever were. The main thrust of this proposal is to adjust the activities undertaken to meet program goals - not to change the goals themselves.
What is being proposed as Program Enhancement?
WWhat would the proposed Activity Areas be?
Six activity areas are suggested:
(1) Our World - dealing with social issues at a very young age, Baden-Powell and the Scouting movement, outings, "Friends of the Forest", learning about Beavers, interrelationships with others, our freedoms, being Canadian, other cultures, "loving God..."
(2) Creativity - using imagination and innovation, campfires, crafts, music, reading, art, creative thinking, outings, "works hard", "sharing..."
(3) Fitness - being active, eating right, playing, keeping clean, games, outings, "having fun..."
(4) Our Environment - learning about and experiencing our natural environment, Scoutrees for Canada, cleanups, "the three R's"(reduce, reuse, recycle), nature hikes, outings, "helping take care of the world..."
(5) Family and Friends - helping around the house, helping Leaders, cookouts, being a friend, building things for others, fixing things, outings, family, sleepovers, "helping family and friends..."
(6) Outdoors - creating opportunities to take the program outdoors, exploring the natural world, hiking, camping, "appreciating nature..."
Each of these activity areas must include "Beaver Ideas" allowing time in the program for items the youth ask to do, regardless of what they are!
These "Activity Areas" tie in neatly with the Cub Activity Areas providing an excellent framework for leaders to build their program around. They also provide excellent linkages to Cubs!
The annual plan would include up to five activities from each area, mixing outdoors and indoors as much as possible. Certain activities would occur every year, such as Investiture, tail ceremony, etc. Several suggestions for all six activity areas are provided in the attached appendix.
How would it work?
This approach allows for a well-rounded program each year and avoids the trap of repetition in subsequent years - thereby addressing the "boredom" criticism. Leaders would be trained, encouraged, and prepared for a more creative programming process. Regardless of whether the youth was in the program for 1, 2, or 3 years, he/she would be able to reflect on a varied, fun-based program developed in concert with Scouting's overall objectives.
It remains imperative that activities be "Age-Appropriate". Having said that, it must be noted that "Beavers can do anything Cubs or Scouts can", only at a level appropriate to 5-7 year olds - much the same as "girls can do anything boys can".
Seldom do we hear a Scout bemoan the fact that his/her activities are a repetition of Cubs, because a well-run program makes it so they are merely similar. Beavers can be a part of the "total Scouting experience" the same way!
This proposal does not suggest abandoning program elements that have served us well traditionally. Instead, it merely advocates that they be built into a modernized approach that recognizes the need for variety, challenge, fun, and an improved link to the other sections of our movement.
Examples of some activities in each proposed Activity Area:
(1) Our World
(4) Our Environment
(5) Family and Friends
Once again make sure that you have taken the time to find out what the Beavers would like to do and make sure their ideas are incorporated into your program!
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