Our latest case study comes from Vicki Wood, who explains how the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum arranged a successful Cub Scout sleepover where participants worked towards their Disability Awareness badge.
Building a new audience
As a new museum, building our audience is key. It is especially important for us to establish Soldiers of Oxfordshire as a family friendly venue, with a broad remit, rather than a traditional military museum.
Trialling a partnership
Because of this, we were delighted when a local Cub Scout pack wanted to trial a sleepover and work on their Disability Awareness badge with us. The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum is relevant to this badge not only because it is an accessible public building but also because war can result in disability, which we explore in some of our displays.
Planning a Cub Camp
It was very important to work very closely with the pack leaders prior to the event. The Leaders needed to be responsible for the overall structure of the ‘camp’, domestic arrangements (food, medicines, sleep etc), behaviour of the Cubs and for the achievement of the badge criteria. Museum staff would be responsible for the set up and safety of the venue and facilitate some of the activities. We agreed that the camp would run from 6.30pm on Friday to 2.30pm on Saturday at the end of the Autumn half-term 2015.
We jointly worked on the risk assessment and ‘rules’ for holding a camp in a museum environment – e.g. Cubs not to enter the kitchen area and to eat only in the designated area. Overnight, we marked the way to the toilets very clearly and set automatic doors on the route to ‘open’.
To comply with safeguarding regulations, only staff with DBS clearance stayed overnight. Appropriate separate spaces were arranged for adults and boys and girls to change and sleep.
Programme of activities
During the camp, the Cubs did lots of games and activities, including enjoying the Museum galleries, hands-on exhibits and trails. Before bed we showed the film ‘Valliant’, a cartoon about wartime carrier pigeons, which was very popular.
Activities specifically related to the badge were: discussing disability and what it means in society, looking at exhibits about disabled soldiers, assessing the accessibility of building, trying out Braille and writing with their toes and – with the aid of a teacher from a special school – learning how to sign, and how to spoon feed another person.
What did we learn?
The camp was great fun and all the Cubs enjoyed themselves and got their badge! One of the Cubs told us it was the ‘best night’ of his life and the Pack would like to come again next year.
For the Museum, we proved that the format works very well, as long as the Cub leaders are very organised and take responsibility for the camp, as they did in our trial.
The main problem for us was the issue of pricing. For the trial, the pack leaders wanted to limit the number of Cubs to 8. The pack normally charges about £15 per child per camp so the leaders were reluctant to charge more than this. A total of £120 was therefore raised from parents. The Museum asked for a nominal sum of £100 for the trial, and the pack made a loss on the cost of food and activities.
On these figures, neither the Museum (which provided a venue and a member of staff for 20 hours) nor the pack were able to cover their respective costs. If we roll out the format to other packs, this issue will need to be addressed, perhaps by having a larger group or suggesting a higher charge per Cub.
One last thing we need to get right next time…making sure the automatic lights in the adult sleeping area are set to ‘off’ overnight and don’t come on at the slightest hint of movement!
Vicki Wood is the Education and Outreach Officer at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum. The Museum focuses on ‘county and conflict’ and Vicki is passionate about bringing these concepts to a wider audience.
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