Our joining enquiry and joining policy

As scouts, we believe in preparing young people with skills for life. We encourage young people to do more, learn more and be more.

Each week, we help our members enjoy fun and adventure while developing the skills they need to succeed, now and in the future. 

Cubs on a raft

All this is made possible by our dedicated team of adult volunteers that provide exciting scouting programmes in our 94 scout groups and 23 explorer scout units across Wandsworth, Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham & the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Working together in small teams they make scouting happen and ensure that our programme is fun and exciting for the young people taking part.

Scouting is in very high demand across South London, we receive dozens of requests every day for young people to join our adventure. We are committed to providing a positive scouting experience to as many young people in our local communities as we can. As a result of overwhelming demand in many areas lots of the sections (that’s beavers, cubs and scouts), in many of our groups are heavily oversubscribed and operate a joining list for those that want to join them.

This overarching joining enquiry policy has been drawn-up to clearly explain our approach to allocating places and to ensure as many young people are able to access scouting in our scout groups as possible. Within this, in many places it is necessary for our groups to maintain their own joining lists for their sections and in these cases each group’s own joining policy will apply. We retain the right to change this policy without notice at any time.

Click each section below to read about...

Our capacity

The number of places each of our groups have available in their sections are limited by several factors, these are:

  • maximum section sizes (set by The Scout Association)
    • Beavers    –    24
    • Cubs         –    36
    • Scouts      –    no limit (but local circumstances apply)
  • Adult ratios (for activities away from the sections regular meeting place)
    • 1 adult to 6 Beaver Scouts plus the leader in charge
    • 1 adult to 8 Cub Scouts plus the leader in charge
    • 1 adult to 12 scouts
  • The size of and facilities each group uses as their regular meeting place

​Joining lists

Where necessary, our groups manage their own joining lists. When a section in a group is full new enquiries to join are placed on the groups list by a member of the groups team. If it is necessary for a group to put your child on their joining list, your child needs to be within two years of the sections lower age limit:

Section          Core age range          Joining list age
Squirrels         5 to 6 years                  no younger than 2 years  
Beavers          6 to 8 years                  no younger than 4 years
Cubs               8 to 10½ years            no younger than 6 years
Scouts            10½ to 14 years          no younger than 8½ years

Joining list capacities

Sometimes, there does come a point when a section in a group declares that their joining list is full. When this happens, they close their joining list and are not able to accept any further enquiries to join for the section (or sections), concerned. Groups have the need to close their lists because they  get to a point where there is so many names on the sections list that the children at the bottom of the list will never have the opportunity to join the section before they reach the upper age limit of the section.


Our groups first priority is to the children already within their group. Each group plans so that sufficient places are available to ensure that their members are able to progress between the sections (Beavers to Cubs and Cubs to Scouts). Children on the joining list will be offered places on a first come, first served basis as places become available (in line with the groups joining enquiry processing policy – see below).  

Our commitment to you

We deal with enquiries to join scouting across Wandsworth, Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham & the Royal Borough of Greenwich every day but, receive more each day than we can respond to. Due to our team capacity (we only have one member of staff), it can take a minimum of 5 weeks to pass on your enquiry. To be fair to everyone we deal with joining enquiries in strict order of receipt.

Based on the information you have provided; we will pass your enquiry on to the nearest group that has places available for your child’s age range. Once this happens a member of the groups volunteer leadership team will contact you with local joining details. This can take an additional period of time as many of our popular groups deal with enquiries to join them and where possible, offer places to children who are old enough to join, on a termly basis (that’s about every 12 weeks).

All this said, we are passionate about providing scouting to as many young people as we possibly can, so that they benefit from the fun of scouting and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Why are we so oversubscribed?

Scouting provides young people with experiences to help build their confidence, provide a sense of purpose, explore life’s values and learn skills – these are hard to find anywhere else and we call them – skills for life!

Scouting is in very high demand across South London and although we have 94 Scout Groups, run by over 2000 volunteers, it means we receive far more request to join than we can accommodate.

Scouting simply would not exist without the enthusiasm of our adults. All our leaders and supporters are volunteers who truly believe in the value and impact that scouting has on the lives of young people and run their sections at maximum capacity. We are always looking for opportunities to enable our existing sections to take the maximum number of young people or to start new scouting provision but in order to do this we need support of adults to get involved.

When might a groups joining list reopen?

We review joining capacities with our groups three times a year, in September, January and April. If a group advises us that they now have the capacity to receive more enquires for Beavers and/or Cubs, and/or/Scouts, we will enable the opportunity to send an enquiry on the groups page.


There’s lots of opportunities for you and your family to get involved too…

We encourage parents and family members (over 18) to lend a hand as and when they can at their youngster’s Beaver, Cub or Scout meetings. We also run a fantastic scheme for young people aged 14 to 18 who are interested in helping out, called the young leader scheme, and this is also a great way to complete the service part of their DofE award.  

We know that life can be busy, so we're all about flexibility. Whether you can spare one hour a week, a month or a term, it’s far easier to provide exciting activities at our meetings if we have your support. You may think that you have nothing to offer but you'd be surprised! Give us just one hour (in a way that suits you) and you can help us provide scouting to even more young people. Not all our roles involve working with young people so there are many ways you can help make a difference. You really can give as much or as little of your time as you choose on your terms!

Being part of scouting is great fun and it goes without saying that helping young people can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. Plus, it looks great on your CV!

You don't need to know anything about scouting - What’s more important is your own skills and experience as well as empathy with our mission and values. We provide a warm welcome, a sociable network, a relevant level of easy to access training which is designed to acknowledge your experience and aims to support you in the areas where you need additional support, lots of online resources to help you, as well as ongoing face to face support. 

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There's never been a better time to get involved and help inspire our members to be the leaders of the future. For more information speak to the leaders when your local group contact you or get in touch with us at: jointheadventure@southlondonscouts.org.uk

Join today!