Despite the year of uncertainty due the pandemic and having to go into lockdown several times over the past year, the Boys Brigade has weathered the storm well. We have had great support from BB Headquarters who set up a programme for us to use every month for virtual and face to face meetings plus a “BB At Home” were the children had challenges to do at home, gaining medals for how many of the activities they achieved. We have managed to go back to face to face meetings in the hall twice within this time period, putting in risk assessments to the church and using the risk assessments and instructions from HQ on how to do this in a safe and socially distanced manner.
Whilst we have been in lockdown all three sections reverted to Zoom Sessions to keep the contact with our members. As I write this we are preparing to go back to face to face meetings after the Easter holidays or as soon as we hear from HQ that this will be allowed.
Anchors (Reception to Year 3 ) - We still currently have 14 youngsters in the Anchor Section, having lost 2 members and then gained another 2 members. The boys have made Chinese lanterns to celebrate the Chinese new year, nature blocks using flowers from the garden, and Lego modelling to name just a few things they have done.
Juniors (Year 4 to Year 6) - In Juniors we have 5 youngsters having welcomed a new member to the section. Throughout the year they have also been meeting via Zoom with activities such as scuba diving, visiting a zoo, Australian Theme evening, Phonetic Alphabet and sitting around a campfire when unable to meet face to face.
The Juniors have also started an international project whereby we have linked up with the 33rd Vic Boronia in Australia, where we paired up our boys members with their boys and the first letters have been sent and received in Australia. They did take along time to get there, but we are awaiting in anticipation the replies from them. This is a very exciting project and we hope in the future that we will be able to set up Zoom meetings with the boys, although the time difference is a bit of a challenge. Our officers have already done this with the officers in Australia to set this up in a safe way.
Company & Seniors (Year 7 to Year 13 ) - Company & Senior Section have 6 youngsters and we continue to meet with 7th Gloucester on a Thursday night. Having to work via Zoom for most of the year has been challenging but we have managed activities such as making a Catapult and Crossbow, learning about Australia, various games and quizzes. A number of company boys took part in a Ready Steady Cook competition with 4th Cheltenham. The boys or parents uploaded via our facebook page Pictures of them cooking and the finished product which was independently assessed. The Company & Senior Section Badge scheme is being changed in September so we look forward to a more workable system which will benefit the section greatly.
We were lucky enough to be included in a grant obtained by the Gloucestershire Battalion which enabled us to spend a good amount on activities for each boy, things which we would have been unable to do as we felt we could not charge full subscriptions this time around and will not be getting our usual annual cheque from the Parents Association.
Over the past year both Juniors and Company Section have missed out on their camps and this year we have not been able to run camps at our normal time. We await confirmation from HQ that residentials can take place again. We are planning to take the Juniors for 4 days at the end of August down to Haytor in Devon and Company Section with spend 6 days again at the same site with a 2 day cross over.
In May we had a virtual Awards evening, which meant we were able to award all the badges they had earnt in the last year. Awards and Trophies were sent out before hand to the parents and were presented to the children on our behalf. As part of the display a number of items videoed by the children were then edited together and then shown during the evening. We also had a virtual carol service which went down well as the officers filmed an alternative Christmas story.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award has not yet started but we hope to get started soon.
As a company we are all too aware that we always need to look at what we are doing on a regular basis and adapt with our programming, to make the Boys Brigade an exciting and challenging place to come to every week. By September we will hopefully be back to some sort of normality and with us promoting six Anchors to Juniors and one Junior to Company, so we will be looking for new members for our Anchor Section.