Summer Camp 2014 – Reach for the skies!

After long haul summer camps to Northumberland in 2012 and Cornwall in 2013 the troop stayed at close to home this year with a cycling tour around the best that the local area has to offer. That didn’t mean it was any less adventurous with many miles of cycling, sailing, falconry and the center piece of learning to glide!

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Day 1 saw an easy cycle up the river to Waterbeach where Cam sailing club were our hosts. The troop took part in a club picnic before before learning to sail traditional keel boats, common in the fens, including one previously owned by Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome.

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The troop camped in the grounds of the club, right next to the river before cycling on the next day, in glorious sunshine, to the Raptor Foundation near St Ives. Following an afternoon visit to the center, which acts as a conservation and rescue center for birds of prey, the scouts were invited to a flying session with the birds where they had the privilege of the birds flying to their hands and taking foods from their hands.

Camping in the grounds of the center the scouts discovered just how early birds of prey wake up at 4.30am when the massed dawn chorus of some of the world’s biggest birds gave them an earlier start that usual. That morning saw the troop supporting the center, helping clean out many of the aviaries and feeding the birds.

Monday afternoon saw the return of cycling, 19 miles to Great Gransden Airfield and Cambridge Gliding Center.

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The next two days saw all the scouts learning to glide thanks to the Hertfordshire Scouts air activities team. Theory sessions on the ground culminated in each scout taking to the skies in a motorised glider and, after being shown the basics, each scout took control of the glider, the first and for many the only time they will take the controls of an aircraft over 3,000 feet above the ground!

There were a few unsettled stomachs from those that caught a big thermal but the  buzz of being in control saw some big smiles on landing 🙂

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Those not gliding on each day cycled the few miles down the road to Charlie Mill where they got an introduction to horse riding including the process of getting the horses ready.

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With the gliding and riding done the next leg saw the scouts continue the cycling to Shepreth wildlife park where they had the chance to get up close and personal with some serious creepy crawlies before a final evening BBQ and a gentle cycle back to Cambridge the next day.

Congratulations to Tom, a very well earned scout of the camp, and a sad farewell to Nick, our Senior Patrol Leader who is now heading to explorers.

Finally we like to do a “movie” of our summer camps. And of course with gliding as the center piece of camp there was only one 1980s Hollywood blockbuster we could have a nod towards…… Enjoy!

Full gallery of photos here