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Beaver Log Chews

A Beavers youth forum is the perfect way to get young people involved in all aspects of Scouting, from thinking about programme ideas to planning camps and events.

Log chews are the most frequently used forum in Beaver Scouts. They provide an ideal opportunity to allow Beaver Scouts to express their opinions on the programme and past activities and get involved in Colony planning.

All young people’s views are valuable and all young people have the right to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Young people who are less confident or have difficulties with communicating or working with others may need extra support or flexibility to express their opinions and views. It is important to enable all young people to play an active role, to achieve meaningful youth involvement in the section.

Running a log chew

Log chews are flexible, and there isn’t one formal set of guidelines on how they must be run. The leadership team can decide how they think it will work best for their Colony. However, leaders must be prepared to listen to and act upon feedback given by the Beavers, and explain why things are done in a particular way.

All young people’s views are valuable and all young people have the right to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Young people who are less confident or have difficulties with communicating or working with others may need extra support or flexibility to express their opinions and views. It is important to enable all young people to play an active role, to achieve meaningful youth involvement in the section.

Some young people may have difficulties with things like taking turns, or find it difficult to share their ideas verbally or in a group setting.  Some young people will need more time than others, to process and form their ideas.

Don’t underestimate the ability of all young people to give their views. There are lots of different ways that feelings and ideas can be communicated.

To help you organise a successful log chew, you can use the following tried and tested steps as a guide. This also includes some practical ideas and tips which could be used, to support all young people to express their opinions/views.  Having a number of methods for young people contribute will be beneficial and more engaging/fun, for all young people.

  • Hold the forum at the beginning or end of the meeting each week.
  • If your Colony is particularly large, a log chew could be held with a different Lodge each week. Beavers could also be split into Lodges and Young Leaders could help them to start the discussion, before coming together as a Colony.
  • Give the Log Chew a specific theme, for example activities on camp. This will help keep the Beavers focused.

Encouraging turn-taking

  • Sit the Beaver Scouts in a circle and pass around a soft toy, with only the individual holding the toy being allowed to speak. Leaders could note down the comments the Beavers make.
  • Having a single chair as a ‘hot seat’, where only the Beaver Scout sitting in the chair can speak. The Beavers can take it in turns to sit in the chair.

Communication

  • It is important to set some ground rules, and ensure that the Beaver Scouts know they have to take it in turns to speak and that they must not shout out. This helps quieter Beaver Scouts feel confident enough to give their opinions, as they know they will not be interrupted.
  • Remember to think about how you communicate the question or topic, to ensure the understanding of all young people. For young people with autism, questions or topics that are specific will probably be most accessible.  For more information about autism visit scouts.org.uk/autism
  • If a young person needs extra time to process a question, ask them if they would like others to answer first, or provide the list of questions beforehand.
  • For young people with limited communication skills, it may be useful to speak to the parent/carer about best way for the young person to form and provide their views
  • Our Scouting Speaks to All resource covers a range of speech, language and communication needs, and tips for supporting young people with these needs.

Making it fun

  • You could use an active game to encourage the Beaver Scouts to express their opinions. For example, pin a happy face on one wall and a sad face on the other, then stand the Beavers in the middle of the room. Shout out an activity, and ask the Beavers to run to the happy face if they would like to do the activity or the sad face if they would not.
  • Some young people may have difficulty remembering or visualising activities that they’ve done in the past. Showing photos would be an excellent memory aid and promote discussion.

Planning ahead

  • A slip of paper could be sent home, the week before the youth forum, with a question or questions for the young people to think about and record their ideas. They could use this as a reminder for themselves or the slip could be handed in.  This would also be a good means of parent/carers supporting young people to form their ideas, if needed.
  • An ‘ideas box’ or ‘thoughts box’ could be used in the section, for young people to submit their ideas in writing and anonymously if they wish.
  • For a young person who has difficulty expressing themselves, make sure you give them enough time and take time to check that you’ve understood their views/ideas correctly.
  • A young person may be more able to give their ideas individually, to their Section Leader, another volunteer, a Young Leader, or someone who knows them well. The young person could then be supported/prompted to give their views or could nominate someone to speak for them.
  • It is important to ensure all Beavers, particularly those who are new to the section or take things literally (as in autism), what the words ‘log chew’ mean in Scouting.

The Beaver Scouts should be encouraged to express their opinions on a number of topics:

  • Favourite games and activities.
  • What they think of things they have done in the last couple of weeks.
  • Things they have not enjoyed.
  • Choosing badges they want to do, trips to go on, or activities.

It is important that leaders keep a note on the feedback they get, and use this to shape the programme, so that the Beavers can see their opinions are being listened to.