Over the Easter holidays a gang of our older scouts, young leaders and adults joined our friends at Hertfordshire Scouts for their annual initial moutaineering course at Lochearnhead in the Scottish Highlands. Over the week they learned many winter mountaineering skills as this year’s mountain winter lingered comfortably into spring!
Whether it was navigating in poor visibility, digging snow holes as shelters or getting to grips with ice axes the scouts took basic hiking skills and developed them into those of mountaineers! This was set in the majestic scenery of the Scottish Highlands which the scouts got to see in all their moods from glorious spring sunshine to steady winter snow.
The highlight of the week was its climax with a 3 day, 2 night hike camp wild in the mountains, high above the snow line, some camping on Ben Vorlich and some at Meal Nan Tarmachan
A huge thank you must go to all the instructors and staff at Lochearnhead and Herts Scouts for hosting our contingent for the week. We’ll be back next year 🙂
On a chilly weekend in March 14 scouts from Raptor troop trecked into the woods for a weekend of survival skills. Over 48 hours they built and slept in their own shelters, built their own compasses and navigated using, of all things, trees! Saturday evening they gutted and cleaned fish, making dinner using nothing but their penknives. On Sunday the scouts tracked animals including badgers and foxes, getting casts or tracks and even getting some photos of one local fox 🙂
A tough weekend where all the scouts, including 3 who had only been with us for a few weeks, really showed what they could do!
It’s that time of the year again (well ok a couple of weeks late!) where we look back on everything the two scout troops got up to in 2017. Grab some popcorn. Sit back. Relax. It’s 2017 the movie!
There are those that believe that camping is for the summer months. Not us! A small but enthusiastic band of scouts from Raptor troop spent a November weekend on camp at Phasels Wood in Hertfordshire. Yet another camp planned by the scouts themselves they went shooting, crate staking and braved the dark of Phasels artificial caving complex. They also made their fire lighters in the shape of char cloth and spent a morning learning CPR. Sunny days gave way to heavy rain both nights and allowed the scouts to show off their ability to cope with some quite difficult conditions underfoot.
Most of all though the scouts burned an extraordinary amount of wood and set what must be a new record with a fire that was lit first thing Saturday morning with one match staying fully alight until the last possible moment before we left Sunday afternoon.
While summer 2017 will mostly be remembered for the Canada expedition the fact remained that the scouts who didn’t get to go were just as busy! Summer means camping and the weekend trips to Gilwell Park and Thriftwood were fantastic fun….
Gilwell was a very much patrol based camp with patrols from Raptor troop scattered across Gilwell, independent of each other and adults who sat in the corner, drank tea and ate cake! Although we did have a sneaky go at the zip wire 🙂 The camp was planned and run entirely by the scouts themselves although a particular highlight was the massed site campfire and encountering Vincent, the magnificent campfire leader from South Africa. The troop has a new super hero!….
Thriftwood meanwhile was more group based, with the cubs in tow with the scouts getting the chance to be a thoroughly bad influence on them!
Day 15….. After over two weeks with our friends across the Atlantic it finally came to an end, an expedition that was nearly two years in the planning. It was time to say a sad, and for some (you know who you are) a tearful farewell to knew friends, and in some cases old friends from 2015 and 2013! Two weeks that were a lot of fun and a lot of hard work but thoroughly worth it.
While it was time for a few tears it was also time for some huge thanks as well. We simply wouldn’t have been able to run a trip like this without a friends at 12th Cambridge Scout Group in Ontario. They did an awful lot of work both to get it organised in the first place, hosting us and holding some hands as we headed into country that we simply don’t have here in the UK. So thank you to all the families who hosted us and the leaders who guided us. In particular Katie Havens, Group Commissioner and Shelley Dyet Scout Leader.
It was a time to reflect as well.
As scouts we have the honor of being part of a world wide movement, 40 million young (and some not so young!) people across nearly every country on the planet. It is not often that we get to spend so long in the company of those who are from so far away. To have that opportunity is something we are genuinely blessed with. Long may it continue.
On arrival home after nearly 20 hours travelling there were some very grateful (or not so grateful? 🙂 ) parents waiting for our band of travellers. We would like to thank parents as well for all their help with the planning, the fund raising and simply being willing to send their sons and daughters away with us into bear country.
Only one thing left to say….. the Canadians are planning on heading this way in 2019, they’ve asked us to show them a bit of Scotland….. so see you there?
After a week camping in the kind of wilderness we never get to see back home it’s back to some home comforts before heading off to the UK tomorrow.
Everyone is a little tired but it seems to be the leaders catching more Zs than anybody else…..
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The second half of the trip involved a full week on camp at Halliburton Scout Reserves. 5000 acres of Canadian wilderness complete with some proper wildlife, including bears, wolves and moose! While some of the activities like climbing and archery were familiar to the scouts the way of life on camp definitely wasn’t. No showers, no roads, no plumbing. Transport everywhere was by canoe, something the scouts got very good at over the week.
Most striking of all was the completely different scale to UK scouting, where a campsite of 100 acres would be considered big and where you can normally shout to your neighbours.
Congratulations to 4 of our scouts for making it onto the Haliburton wall of fame for speed climbing!
Our time in Cambridge and with our wonderful host families is coming to an end, the big adventure in the Canadian wilderness is fast approaching! Most of Friday was spent packing and checking kit and all the other prep that goes into summer camp.
The scouts though still found time for a pie eating contest, an attempt at a car theft* and a patrol leader giving a lesson on what happens if you kneel down while a PL is looking for a seat!
Tomorrow it’s off to bear country…….
The scouts were left to their own devices as the Canadian scouts took the Cambridge Scouts for the grand tour of their home town
Meanwhile the leaders got taken on their own tour! Not a huge number of photos from Thursday.
However…. elsewhere in Canada one of our cub leaders Hannah “Shere Khan” Wheatley has been working at another Canadian summer camp and has been sending us photos of all her adventures as well! She’ll have some war stories to tell the Cubs when she gets back but in the mean time……