WWESU: One Year in COVID

One year ago today, Scout groups across the country were forced to suspend face-to-face Scouting in light of a developing pandemic. Ever since, Wild Wolf ESU has strived to continue providing the best quality of Scouting possible for our young people; thanks to the dedication of our Leaders and amazing support from the WWESU community, we are now proud to share with you what we’ve achieved in a year like no other.

With the suspension of face-to-face Scouting so unexpected, our Leaders and Patrol Leaders had to act fast to ensure WWESU could still run under the now imminent lockdown. To do so, an emergency Patrol Leaders’ Council was called in March to try to curate a sustainable and meaningful programme, deliverable over Zoom. Just one week later, WWESU hosted its first online meeting!

PLC, March 2020

During our time online, our Explorers enjoyed participating in a wide range of activities including quiz nights, debates and even talks from special guests! Although our programme was incredibly well-received by members of the Unit, we found ourselves missing one of the essential Scouting activities: camping! And so a group of our Explorers formed a ‘Virtual Camp Committee’ in an attempt to bring the magic of camping onto Zoom. After weeks of planning, WWESU was able to deliver a night long virtual camp where participants were encouraged to sleep in homemade forts and take part in a variety of activities ranging from yoga to teddy bear photography.

Moving into the summer term, our Patrol Leaders and Leaders wanted to create their best online programme yet and send out physical activities to each and every Explorer. With a Unit of over 100, this was quite a task but as shown below, each Explorer received their own lockdown care package! The package not only included resources for our Tuesday meetings, but also a variety of seeds to grow in lockdown, music and book suggestions from the Leaders and even some sweet treats.

With all the fun we were having on Zoom, it would have been easy to forget the impact the pandemic was having on people across the country. At WWESU, we always make sure that community is at the forefront of what we do and the pandemic was no exception. We encouraged Explorers to do everything they could to help the people in our local area; some made mini food banks outside their homes, others delivered shopping to those more vulnerable, and so on. But as a Unit, we wanted to thank everyone for doing their bit during the pandemic and so we made this video. Take a look!

As the weeks went by, it was clear to see the pandemic was here to stay and so by June the Unit started up more projects to keep Explorers busy and help them keep up their DofE volunteering. One of these was the ‘Heritage Project’. Founded by one of our Leaders, Annie, the project attempted to unearth some of the rich histories of Scouting in our area. Explorers involved were able to digitalise and preserve hundreds of photos and documents whilst learning about the Scouts who came before them. Alongside the Heritage Project, lockdown had our Quartermasters working from home as they spent weeks mending, organising and auditing the Unit’s equipment!

Soon enough July was upon us and with it came glorious sunshine. Luckily for us, we wouldn’t be stuck inside for much longer as restrictions started to lift on face-to-face Scouting. Our Patrol Leaders and Leaders got straight to work, getting together to discuss how WWESU could deliver activities safely when back in person. In no time we were back outdoors as we spent the last weeks of July kayaking and canoeing on the River Lea with lessons led by our fantastic Patrol Leaders. Explorers of all abilities took part and enjoyed paddling in the sun before we said goodbye for the summer.

Kayaking on the River Lea

Although the summer holidays felt strange without a Wild Wolf Summer Camp to attend, we kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to continue an in-person programme in the autumn term. September came around and things were looking up for face-to-face meetings, although not how we were used to them. Explorers returned to Scout Park split between two nights and social distancing became the norm. We didn’t let this stop us though as the Unit enjoyed a varied programme of fire lighting, archery, climbing and so much more!

It is around this time of year that we would usually be eagerly preparing for our annual fireworks display. Unfortunately, and with a very heavy heart, we had to cancel our 2020 display to follow the restrictions on large events. However, thanks to the generosity of the Wild Wolf community we were still able to raise enough money to maintain a fantastic programme for all our Explorers well into the new year. With that said, we simply couldn’t miss the opportunity to set off some fireworks and so to mark the week Fireworks would have been held, we planned a rotation of fireworks-themed activities for the Explorers.

Light Painting at Scout Park

Also in the autumn term, Wild Wolf was able to run a number of day trips at the weekend. These included kayaking and hiking trips for Explorers of all abilities as well as cycling and park games. Take a look:

Soon enough we were once again saying goodbye for the Christmas holidays. During this time we counted down the 12 Days of Christmas by sharing one of our favourite WWESU YouTube videos each day on our social media (you can check out our YouTube channel by clicking here). In the new year we were unfortunately put into another lockdown and so, once again, our Leaders and Patrol Leaders worked hard to design a fantastic online programme. This time activities included quizzes, virtual puzzles and even a musical bingo! We also updated our ‘We Are Wild Wolf’ video during this time, showing you who we are and what we do. Have a watch!

With us still meeting online, we’ve now reached the end of our year in COVID blog. We would like to say a massive thank you for the ongoing support from everyone in the WWESU community during such a difficult time. We now look forward to our return to face-to-face Scouting on the 29th March as well as potential camps later in the year, and we wish everyone reading a safe and happy 2021.

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