Happy New Year!

New Year Update – All Sections

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had as good a festive season as possible in the circumstances and that you’ve all managed to stay fit and healthy.

I had intended to write a review of 2020, but on reflection I thought it might be better to look forward than back. Here are a few things that I need to update you on for the first few months of 2021:

Face to Face Meetings

North Yorkshire is in Tier 3 as I write this, and under the NYA alert levels this allows us to meet face to face in limited numbers. In practice many of our leadership team are from Darlington which is in Tier 4, and while our scouting work allows us to cross tiers if we were to follow the rules to the letter, this feels like it goes against the spirit of those rules. Add to this the building work in progress at the village hall, the weather at this time of year and the continued uncertainty about the status of school opening, we have taken the decision across the sections to start the term online and review this towards the end of this half term.

Although schools may be returning this week, most section leadership teams will have a planning meeting this week to work out online programmes through to February and will resume online next week. Look out for emails directly from your section leaders some time soon!

Census

Every scout group conducts an annual census of membership to give a national picture of scouting. This is necessary for two reasons: 1) It allows HQ to monitor membership levels across the country to identify areas that need support recruiting young people and leaders. Based on a lot of historical hard work and good reputation, 1st Barton are yet to need any help on either of those fronts; 2) It allows our district to calculate our annual membership fees.

Why am I telling you this? As ever, we need your help. In this case, in two ways.

First, the process of pulling together the census information requires us to collate a fair bit of anonymised data, particularly around age, gender, race and disability. This can be automatically pulled from our admin system but only when a parent has updated this and given permission. If that hasn’t happened we are forced to rely on paper records of membership applications which in most cases have been destroyed due to GDPR requirements. Where no records exist we have to submit incomplete information which causes no end of headaches. I will follow this email with a specific Census Request email which will only go out to anyone for whom we do not already hold census data and permission. Click on the link and log in – you’ve all been in Parent Portal at least once to set up your DD – and take the 15 seconds required to update your child’s record. That 15 seconds saves us hours of problems in the long run.

Second, very simply, please let us know if you no longer want your place in the group. Not only will this potentially free up space for someone else in a section which is at capacity, it will save us paying an annual membership fee for someone who then leaves shortly afterwards. Unlike many other scout groups we do not make a one-off charge for annual membership; we spread this through the year as part of subs, but this does mean we proceed at risk of not covering our costs if we lose people soon after census. There are a number of you out there who we haven’t heard from or seen since the first lockdown started last March, and we could really do with knowing if you want to come back. Now would be a fine time to get in touch and let us know if you want to give up a place. No hard feelings at all on our part.

Gift Aid

We are part of a charity and this means that we can claim Gift Aid on the subs that you pay to us. That can be worth 25p on every pound you pay to us monthly and that adds up to a lot. We can only do this if you have completed a Gift Aid declaration. You will find that in the Parent Portal that you just definitely accessed to make our lives easier with the census. We’d appreciate you updating your declaration ASAP so we can claim some money back.

In March last year I did some financial projections to see how long we could continue based on reduced subs, which have been in place for 9 months now. I won’t bore you with the details of those projections, but while we are not in imminent danger, another year like last year coupled with the potential for a Gang Show delayed by COVID could see us having a very different and much more difficult conversation this time next year. Completing your gift aid declaration NOW helps us keep the wolf from the door for longer.

Subs

A gentle reminder that when a child moves section, action is required on your part to move their DD to their new section. This is less onerous than it once was and no longer requires a whole new DD to be set up, you can just move to the new section’s plan. There are a number of people who moved during the last term for whom we have not been receiving DDs. This is most likely because of the sheer volume of scouting email you receive, but also because any reminders to set up a DD are sent at the same time as the monthly notification that payment will be taken. These are possibly overlooked because they arrive on the usual payment notification schedule. I’ll get section leader to get in contact with folks individually where there are missing DDs to resolve this, but you can get ahead of us by checking your emails from Go Cardless and checking in Parent Portal to see if there are any payment actions.

Get in touch if you have any payment questions. It is possible you will see multiple months as due and these will all be taken once a DD is in place. Hopefully at £5 a month this shouldn’t be too great a financial hit, but if this causes you any concern at all, get in touch and we can and will support you.

I’ll stop banging on now.

As ever, contact me or one of our fantastic leadership team with any questions, comments, suggestions or offers of help.

Hopefully we can see you all in person soon.

Gavin

Returning to Face to Face Scouting

Schools are starting to go back this week and we intend to get back to scouting on the following dates:

Beavers/Scouts: Thursday 10th 2020

SeptemberCubs: Monday 14th September 2020

We’ve gone through a pretty arduous risk assessment process over the summer which is in the process of being approved by our scouting district. The current plan is to restart with a combination of online and…wait for it…face to face OUTDOOR activities.

What we are able to do will vary from section to section and possibly from week to week, and there will be plans in place to keep all our participants and leaders safe. We’ll also need written consent from our parents before we can accept your children back in a face to face setting.

With this in mind we plan to run a Zoom meeting for all parents on Monday 7th September during the usual Cub meeting time. We’ll explain the risk assessment process and the NYA alert levels and the plans for each section.

Don’t worry if you can’t make the meeting. We will follow up with all the info by email afterwards.

Bear with us while we get up and running. It’s possible that we need to stick to online for a couple of weeks while we get all the required permissions back from parents, but we’ll keep you informed as we go along.

Feel free to get in touch with any questions, either here, via Messenger, by texting your section leader or emailing bartonscouts@gmail.com

You should have already received an invitation to the Zoom meeting, but drop us a line if that’s missed you somehow.

Thanks

Gavin

Coronavirus Update – March 2020

As of Tuesday March 17th, all face to face scouting has been suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

We are constantly reviewing government guidance and information from Scouts HQ and we will be back as soon as we possibly can. In the meantime, here are a few things you should know:

  1. Subs will be reduced to £5 per month from April onwards for at least 3 months while our outgoings are slightly less. If you find yourself considering cancelling your direct debit for any reason, get in touch with us. We will happily waive subs payments rather than see you struggle finically.
  2. Marra Camp is postponed until next year. They will issue refunds as soon possible and at that point we’ll be in touch about getting refunds out to you. Bear with us while this is sorted.
  3. The Ypres trip did not get enough bookings to go ahead, and with the travel situation as it is in Europe we are not looking at alternatives this year. Hopefully we will sort this in the future. If you paid a deposit and didn’t give me bank details for a refund, please get in touch ASAP so we can return your money.

A pause to face to face scouting does not mean that scouting has stopped altogether. We plan to run some virtual nights away during April, and will join with Northumberland Scouts on April 30th to try to set a world record for the biggest virtual camp!

We’re also looking at getting some online sessions set up to keep you scouting. The first of these will happen tonight for Beavers, when Catherine will talk us through the Parent Portal part of Online Scout Manager where you can check on your badge progress, see what you need to do next and upload evidence so you can continue getting badges from home.

We’ve finally moved into the 21st century and got ourselves on Facebook. More regular updates will appear there. Find us here: https://www.facebook.com/1stBartonScouts

If you need to get into the parent portal, you can find it here: https://www.onlinescoutmanager.co.uk/features/parents.html Your login info is the same as when you first signed up to your DD. You can use this for badges online, DD changes and updating contact details.

Stay safe and get in touch if you need anything.

Help! We need you!

Don’t worry. We’re not going to ask you to take over as leaders and put a uniform on (unless you want to). It’s much simpler than that.

We need about 5 minutes of your time.

As you probably know by now, we have very kindly been given access to a field and some woodland just outside of Melsonby. We hope to use this a lot more in the near future, both on regular meeting nights and for camps. The site is good enough for us to start camping there pretty immediately but there are a couple of things we need to make it comfortable for us. Namely, a water supply onto site and a semi-permanent toilet block.

These things don’t come for free, but don’t panic, we’re not going to raise subs or demand you make any more donations. Instead we have applied for a grant to cover this.

Calor (the gas people) have a Rural Community Fund which will provide grants to communities and we have applied for one. We have been accepted into the first phase, but this is where you come in.

We need votes!

There are many other communities applying for funding – more than the fund will cover – so Calor put it to the public vote. This is where you come in.

If you could spare the 5 minutes it takes to visit the Calor Community Fund Website and register to vote, you will be given ten votes to use as you wish. Obviously the best thing you could do for us it use all 10 votes for Barton.

Voting closes on June 17th, so please don’t hang around. Remember, this is 10 votes per individual, not per family, so make sure that everyone, including Grandma, Uncle John and Spot the Dog get their say and get us our funding.

What are you still doing here? VOTE!

Camping Field Location

So, you want to find your way to the field and woods just outside Melsonby that we have access to? Well, you’re in the right place.

It’s really not that hard to find, but we’ve drawn a map to help you.

If you head into Melsonby from Barton/A1 you will come to the crossroads where you need to turn right towards Aldbrough.

After you leave the village you will pass a road on your left which is definitely not the one you want.

The second track, which could be mistaken for a field entrance, is where you turn in. The best landmark to look out for is the ginormous pile of poo just inside the gate. Don’t say we don’t take you to see all the best tourist attractions.

Do not drop your children at the side of the road. Once you are through the gate do not stop. Continue down the track to the car park at the end of the lane. There will be room there for you to turn and get back out down the track.

Here is the map which shows where we are.

We are going to be using this location a lot more as the summer term progresses, so I will leave this map here for reference, but I’m sure you’ll have it sorted after the first trip.

Remembrance 2018

Sunday 11thNovember. 10.15am

As you know, 2018 marks the centenary of the end of WW1. Remembrance Sunday falls on Armistice Day itself, 11thNovember.

Barton Scout Group will be taking a central role in the village commemoration so please put this date in your diary now and keep the day clear.

Meet at Barton Village Hall at 10.15am in smart uniform (Uniform top, necker (washed and ironed), school trousers/skirt, school shoes and a poppy).

We will parade to the church where we will form a guard of honour for the congregation arriving for the service. We will then take our places in the church for the service after which we will lead the congregation back to the War Memorial at the hall for 2 minutes silence.

We will then join the community in the hall where we will present a slide show of our trip to Ypres followed by a curry lunch cooked and served by the Scouts and Explorers.

There will be no charge for lunch but we welcome donations in lieu which will be given to The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.

This is a very important event for our Scout Group so please do your very best to be there. All members of the Group and their parents are encouraged to join us.

The Beginning of Our Remembrance Project

Last week saw JT Atkinson kindly donate some wood which will form the basis of our remembrance day display which will form part of Barton’s WWI centenary commemorations.

Here are some of our eager young people helping to unload 10 sheets of plywood from the van, making light work of a load that makes my back ache just to look at it.

Keep checking back for more updates as the project progresses.