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Squirrels

Squirrel Scouts, often shortened to Squirrels, is a program for four to six year olds operated by The Scout Association in the United Kingdom which was launched in September 2021 following pilot trials since 2019.

A group of Squirrels is called a Drey which is run locally by a Scout Group. After reaching the age of six, a Squirrel can move on to Beavers.

Squirrels do not make the Scout Promise or use the Scout law but make a promise relevant to their age and learn a code of behaviour from activities and stories. Squirrels has some features similar to Scouting such as badges for activities and skills learned, themed challenge awards that lead to a top award. Squirrels wear a uniform made up of a bright red sweatshirt. Squirrels are open to boys and girls as well as those of different faiths or none, and variations of the promise exist for a variety of religions and atheists

History

Northern Ireland Squirrel Association

The Northern Ireland Squirrel Association was an independently organised association that operated as a feeder organisation for some Scout Groups in Northern Ireland from the late 1990s. Like the Little Brothers and Beavers in Northern Ireland before them, the Squirrel Association provided a model for the Scout Association’s later programs for younger and younger children.

2019—2021

From 2019, The Scout Association piloted a program nationally, initially under the name Hedgehogs, as a way to increase membership, opportunities for volunteers, and initially targeted black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.[8] In choosing a name for the section, an official report cited children’s TV show Hey Duggee as an influence[9] and referred to Brownsea Island (where Robert Baden-Powell’s initial scouting experiment took place in 1907) as having a thriving colony of red squirrels.Girlguiding’s Rainbow Guides have accepted members from age 5, (4 in Northern Ireland) since 1987 and from age 4 since October 2021.

The pilot trials included programmes led by parents, led by schools and other Early years settings and by the Scout Association itself. They were considered successful in reaching areas of the population previously underserved by Scouting and 60% had no previous involvement in Scouts before the pilot. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic reportedly affected the decision to make the pilots an official part of the provision in September 2021 as the youngest had been hardest hit by lockdowns affecting their ability to discover and play as normal leading to a loss of confidence and increased anxiety in the communities the Scout Association was targeting with the Early Years section.

Launch 2021

The program was launched for wider membership on 9 September, 2021, with particular emphasis on the existing Scout Association appeal for volunteers, #GoodForYou Chief Scout Bear Grylls and CEO Matt Hyde made appearances on television outlets to promote the launch. Dreys which were members of the Northern Ireland Squirrel Association will be merged into local Scout Groups.

Awards and Badges

Squirrels can gain a number of awards and badges covering the range of the programme. These include twelve activity badges for specific skills and experiences, four challenge awards and a top award, the Chief Scout’s Acorn Award. Squirrels can also earn staged activity badges similar to the other under-18 Scouting programs, which chart the development of specific skills

Uniform

Squirrels have a uniform consisting of a red jumper and neckerchief for the group.

Logo and visual identity

The Squirrels logo consists of the red word ‘Squirrels’ with the initial ‘S’ forming a tail of a squirrel on the left side of the logo. The colour palette for the section used in promotional material is predominantly red to reflect the vibrant nature of the section and their uniforms but also uses a leaf green, brown and yellow to reflect the natural environment, Brownsea Island and to tie into the wider movement. The visual identity for the section uses textures found in nature, cut out shapes of leaves and other natural forms and took its inspiration from fashion brands like Mini Boden rather than other youth groups and schools. It was designed by Supple Studios for the Scout Association.

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls