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!


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.


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.


The “New” Site

It’s not really all that new to us now, but there are new children and parents in the group who have never been to the “New” Site, so here are some useful directions.

  1. Head to Melsonby.
  2. Turn north out of the village past the post box and phone box.
  3. As you head down the hill you will pass a turn on your left; don’t go down that one
  4. The next left – which is an entrance to a field – is the correct turn.
  5. Drive all the way down the track edge of the field.

There is room to turn in the field at the end. Please do not stop or turn around as soon as you turn off the road. This creates traffic on a pretty quick section of road between Melsonby and Aldbrough.

Here’s a Google Maps pin: https://goo.gl/maps/RjQ44r4PEBQ7RJR7A

Here’s a grid reference because we are scouts: NZ 197093

No postcode because it’s a field!

Here’s a map I drew.

If you get really stuck, the phone signal is pretty good in the field, so give us a call.

Duke of Edinburgh Award – Coronavirus Adjustments

Hope you are all well at this difficult and challenging time. 

We’re determined that young people shouldn’t miss out on doing their DofE because of the coronavirus outbreak – and we want to do everything we can to support you so your participants can keep doing theirs, at what we know is a really challenging time.

To help with this, we’re introducing some temporary changes to DofE programme requirements. Please see more detail on this below.

We hope working towards their Award will give young people vital focus, motivation and positivity during the lockdown – and that their capacity and enthusiasm for helping others through volunteering could be a huge force for good at a time when it’s needed most.

Temporary programme changes

Participants can now volunteer for family members, for example by mentoring or coaching younger siblings.

Participants can now change section activities more than once. Time spent on previous activities will still count towards completion.

DofE staff members may be able to act as Volunteering, Physical and Skills section Assessors, if required.

To protect the value and integrity of DofE Awards, other requirements will remain the same. However, we’re continuing to look for ways we can be flexible to support you and young people at this time, and will update you if we introduce any further temporary changes. The expedition section will be resumed when we know further information. 

Any further questions do not hesitate to contact me. 

Cheers Sam


District Scout Cooking Competition 2020

A little short notice on this one, but the district cooking competition has come around again. It will run on Tuesday 26th March 2020 at Richmond School.

All the information you need is in the form. You should pay particular attention to the spend limit (£13.50) and to the age restrictions for the team (only one team member aged 13+).

If you want to enter, get yourself into a team of two and return the form to me by Thursday 19th March. I know the form say you should send it in the the District Commissioner, but we are only allowed to enter 3 teams, so I will need to collect the forms first, and in the event of having more than 3 teams we will draw teams out of a hat.

So, don’t hang around, get your forms back to me ASAP.


Scouts Programme – Winter 2020 Term

Happy New Year.

I am willing to bet that you landed here looking for the programme for the term ahead. As ever this will not be available until a couple of weeks into the term. The reason behind this is that we let the scouts have their say at the start of term so they can let us know what they enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) about last term and what they would like to do in the term ahead.

We’ll talk to the scouts tonight (9th January) and then the leaders will have a meeting to work out what needs to happen to make all their scouting dreams come true. Well..some of them. They wanted us to do scuba diving in village hall last term!

We may not send out a paper copy of the programme this term, so check back here for full details as soon as they become available.

Until you get an updated programme, assume we are in the hall at the usual time and in uniform.

Drop us a text or an email if you can’t make it.


Scouts Winter Camp 2020

We’ve booked Thornthwaite again for winter camp. We like a change as much as the next scouts, but last year’s camp was such a hit that we thought we would go back to Thornthwaite for another round this year.

The important details are:

Location: Thornthwaite Activity Centre

From: 6pm, Friday 6th March 2020

To: 12:30, Sunday 8th March

We’ll talk to the scouts after Christmas about exactly what activities they would like to do, so there should be a bit of something for everyone.

The form is online here, and a paper copy will be going out on Thursday. Closing date is not until February 13th, but don’t leave your booking to the last minute. It makes us very nervous.


Scouts! Read All About It!

This is an appeal! If you are checking the site in advance of scouts tonight to find out what the programme is you will have noticed that it is titled Newspaper Games. To play these games we need your old newspapers. Yes, all of them!

Please send them along and we will see they they are recycled at the end of the night in whatever state they are in.

Scout Expedtion 2019 – MAKE YOUR CHOICE!

We have been leading up to this for almost a year so the weekend will be in your diary in permanent pen by now.

The expedition will take place Saturday 20th July – Sunday 21st July

This is an essential challenge to complete if you are looking to complete your Chief Scout’s Gold award.

There is still an element of planning to be done by the scouts so costs and timings are not final yet but we hope there is enough information here to make a decision on whether you want to take part this year.

We talked to all the scouts at the start of term to get ideas of what they would like to do and they came up with 3 viable options:

  • Cycle the Swale: 12 miles of mainly off-road cycling from Reeth to Keld and then back the other way the next day. We will probably meet around lunchtime on the Saturday and return by lunchtime on the Sunday. Essential kit: A bike with gears, suitable for off-road riding. The bike must fit, be familiar to the scout riding it and be in good condition. We are happy to meet with anyone in advance of the expedition to look over bikes; A helmet; A (VERY!) small rucksack to carry drink, waterproof, snacks etc. Estimated price, £10-15
    • Expedition to Redmire: 8-10 miles (route TBC by scouts) walk from Swaledale to Wensleydale, overnight camping in Redmire and then a walk back the next day. Anticipate starting at 9am on Saturday and finishing at 4pm on Sunday. No special gear above and beyond that which we would expect a scout to have on any other hike. It is strongly recommended not to turn up with brand new, untested kit for the expedition, especially boots. Estimated price, £10-15
    • Train expedition to York: Meet at Darlington station and take a train to York, complete a challenge set by the leaders to explore the city then meet in the afternoon to take a bus to our campsite. In the morning we will pack up and head off in the opposite direction. No special kit at all needed for this one. Estimated price, £25-30

    All the expedition options have some things in common:

    • Scouts do not need to carry all their overnight gear. This will be collected at the start and the scouts will be reunited with it at the overnight camping location.
    • The group will provide all tents and camping equipment and this will be on site when scouts arrive.
    • Scouts will be responsible for pitching their own tents and preparing their own food.
    • The expedition party will need to agree in advance what their menu choices are for Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast and Sunday packed lunch. Food will be on site when scouts arrive.
    • The scouts will have adult supervision at all times. This is not a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, however it should prove to be excellent preparation for anyone who wants to do that in the future.
    • For most of these options we will only be able to provide adult supervision if we have parental help. This will be a big factor in whether we are able to run the expedition.
    • Those who express an intention to join the expedition will meet during scout time to plan the various parts of the expedition.

    In order to book campsites and plan all the leader-specific bits of the expedition we need scouts to commit to the expedition if they want to take part. Obviously we are unable to run three expeditions at the same time, so there will need to be an amount of compromise if we choose an option you don’t particularly fancy.

    With this in mind can you please complete the very quick online survey so that we can begin our various planning activities in good time. Please tick all the possible expeditions you would be happy to take part in. This will help us to choose the most popular option. If you don’t vote for an option but the majority do, and this ends up being the chosen expedition, you can change your mind at a later date and take part.

    Final permission slips will be issued once we have settled on an option.

    If you are a parent who is willing to help out for a weekend, be it walking, cycling, driving kit or some other useful service, please get in touch by text or email so we can make sure this is a viable weekend.

    So here it is…your online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HJDZBLH

    Please get in touch my email or text if you have any questions.