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Managing Free Time Activities Safely (FS120340)

(Published May 2018)


A large number of incidents occur when members are undertaking free time activities, this could be a break in the normal section programme or time before bed on a camp. This guidance is designed to provide leaders with some suggestions of how to manage these activities in order to reduce the potential for incidents and injuries.

Directly before and after section meetings

It is easy for leaders to be distracted talking to parents and setting up the meeting place and this allows for young people to not be supervised.

Try dividing responsibilities to leave a leader or Explorer Scout Young Leader with the task of occupying the young people when they arrive and before they leave. This could be with a game or a quick activity, even something which will help them get ahead in a programme activity later that evening. Make sure games allow for people to arrive or leave throughout and avoid more boisterous activities.

In between activities

Often young people get distracted between activities when there is nothing to focus their attention. Planning your programme to have a smooth transition, with different leaders taking the lead on each element will allow for this to be seamless. Clearly communicate with the young people explaining what the next activity is so that you keep their attention. Plan the programme to be challenging, relevant and rewarding and promote positive behaviour amongst the group. Training modules you may find beneficial are Promoting Positive Behaviour and Delivering a Quality Programme.

Free time during nights away activities

Many sections programme in a free time slot into their event programme, allowing the young people more freedom. This is great for allowing the young people to explore the environment, play games or rest but can result in young people over stretching their abilities and incidents occurring.

Setting clear boundaries will help remove some potential hazards, be clear on rules and expectations and have some supervision, although this could be more indirect than normal. Have someone on hand to run some games or simple activities if the young people start to get bored or stay outside of the agreed area, rules etc.

As a leader make sure you’ve used the Safety Checklist for Leaders, this will help you identify risks and find suitable ways of managing them.

Unsupervised evening activities during nights away activities (i.e. In rooms or tents before bed)

Young people will be excited about being away from home and having the freedom of being unsupervised, this can lead to unsuitable behaviour. Set clear rules and expectations and monitor, pop by and check that groups are ok periodically.

Having some quiet activities or encouraging young people to bring their own can make for a calmer atmosphere in the evenings and help reduce incidents.

More support

If you’re unsure as to how to manage your situation, seek advice from your ADC Section, Group Scout Leader or DESC or other experienced leaders.

If you have any concerns over the safety of an activity, don’t do it, find an alternative and re-plan at a later date.

If you need advice on what training is available ask your GSL or ADC to put you in touch with your Local Training Manager.


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