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Thread: Campsite Facilities

  1. #31
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    I can understand why organisers of big camps need to be tight.

    WINGS was moderately strict. Towcester - that one was called Nailer - was quite strict, but they squeezed folk in far too closely together. There was an awful lot of shooshing and shushing quite early doors - which confused us a little. We went to a camp in Ireland (Lough Dan 1997) and that was wild. An absolute free for all and great fun.

    I stopped going to the big organised camps with Scouts, to take a week or more off work for them just wasn't worth it, the SL at the time I think quite like them, the kids... Mmm... I don't really know...

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    Big camps have their purpose, but personally i find you can't beat a week long summer camp at a quiet campsite or farmer's field.

    We're aiming to get as close to that "back to basics" feeling as possible on site, without scaring people away.

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  4. #33
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    I recently trawled through the many sources of campsite information, and there are over 285 Scout owned campsites in the UK; a few hide themselves very effectively (I could find nothing more than an address for several - Craigshiels Campsite, in Dumfriesshire; Garvestone near Dereham are examples - any info gratefully recieved)
    They come in all sizes and shapes from a Group's small field, up to the big open all year round sites with lots of activities and indoor accommodation. I see there is a place for them all.
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnL View Post
    I recently trawled through the many sources of campsite information, and there are over 285 Scout owned campsites in the UK; a few hide themselves very effectively (I could find nothing more than an address for several - Craigshiels Campsite, in Dumfriesshire; Garvestone near Dereham are examples - any info gratefully recieved)
    They come in all sizes and shapes from a Group's small field, up to the big open all year round sites with lots of activities and indoor accommodation. I see there is a place for them all.
    I agree. There are, from doing research, at least 10 Scout campsites within 20 miles of me. 3 have a decent amount of information available online (ie actual location, details of activities, etc). Only one has a site map (although another has an aerial photo) and only one has a simple to use online calender to check availability. At least 3 of them have no online presence whatsoever and are actively difficult to find out about. Another has a website but unless you already know the name of the site is really hard to find (ie if you search "Scout Campsite near" and any of the nearby villages or towns it doesnt come up). Only three have any kind of permanent signage at the entrance to show that they are a scout campsite.

    It would be interesting to know how many Scout or Guide campsites are actually profitable, and whether this is by the intention of their owners or not (e.g. a group may consider that its use of its own campsite has a "cost" element and therefore it is acceptable for the site to make a loss of X amount. I know some district sites are free to members of that district and that "loss" is swallowed by the district.

  6. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    It would be interesting to know how many Scout or Guide campsites are actually profitable, and whether this is by the intention of their owners or not (e.g. a group may consider that its use of its own campsite has a "cost" element and therefore it is acceptable for the site to make a loss of X amount. I know some district sites are free to members of that district and that "loss" is swallowed by the district.
    Aaaah, profit and loss, a tricky conundrum. Our district site is Garners Field in Tilford. It has a river running down one side, a climbing tower, a couple of field shelters, a hall and kitchen, toilet block, archery range. We don't charge any of the district groups anything if they go down there for an evening, only if they use the hall or climbing tower or archery equipment. It also has different fees depending on if you're local scouts, scouts, or D of E/other youth group. As to whether it makes a profit or loss, I believe it makes a profit on a running costs basis, i.e. general upkeep and utilities and insurance are all less than incoming money. Mainly this is because we get a lot of D of E groups coming as we're close to footpaths and some (relative for Surrey) tracts of countryside, North Downs Way, some heathland etc. Profit/loss all gets a bit wooly when you factor in capital costs of major expenditure like the grass cutting tractors and the climbing tower and building improvements, or if the District has a big District camp but the campsite doesn't "cross charge" a camping fee. Life's too short. It doesn't seem to be a drain on resources anyway.
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
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  8. #36
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    I suppose a district or county may view provision of a campsite to youth groups as part of its charitable purposes and therefore see that investing capital funds that wont have a financial return is a fair way to spend money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    I agree. There are, from doing research, at least 10 Scout campsites within 20 miles of me. 3 have a decent amount of information available online (ie actual location, details of activities, etc). Only one has a site map (although another has an aerial photo) and only one has a simple to use online calender to check availability. At least 3 of them have no online presence whatsoever and are actively difficult to find out about. Another has a website but unless you already know the name of the site is really hard to find (ie if you search "Scout Campsite near" and any of the nearby villages or towns it doesnt come up). Only three have any kind of permanent signage at the entrance to show that they are a scout campsite.

    It would be interesting to know how many Scout or Guide campsites are actually profitable, and whether this is by the intention of their owners or not (e.g. a group may consider that its use of its own campsite has a "cost" element and therefore it is acceptable for the site to make a loss of X amount. I know some district sites are free to members of that district and that "loss" is swallowed by the district.
    Profitability is actually difficult to gauge, as it obvious from the Charity Commission summaries & Annual Reports (and I have skim read over 200) that many sites make a surplus one year but not the next (as they invest in new facilities, buildings, utilities, or the inevitable upturn/downturn in usage, I suspect Cubs100 anniversary was a boost for many sites). Permanent signage is probably not there deliberately to avoid unwanted attention from vandals and thieves.

    Online calendars are a mixed blessing, the large site I am associated with, does not have one deliberately, as with over 25 large camping pitches and 3 accommodation buildings and a mix of usage from small DoE Groups to large District camps with over 400 participants, bookings can be complex, and the office is open 7 days a week, so they feel it is much easier to ring up. Lack of a basic website these days is a sign that Scouting is not that strong in some places (as we know).
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

  10. #38
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    Mmm...

    Are we not looking at this from the wrong end of the, ummm, telescope, or something?

    Scouts isn't a shop. We're mostly not a rapaciously expanding commercial entity. I know of one or two campsites - the owners/runners of which, deliberately don't advertise because their time is limited and they simply don't want the bother. Their own district groups use it and everyone involved is comfy with that.

    Our Beaver colony limits its numbers to 16, could it take more? Probably. But why bother? If that's what the leader team is comfortable doing, then so be it.

    I would posit the notion that a lack of a basic website could equally well mean that scouting is doing fine, and we don't really need to advertise thanks very much.

    On the other hand, if you're running a big campsite like Fordell or Bonaly (both within 20m of us), then yup, you want all the info out there. Their survival relies on being used. Availability and prices online are a must, there's nothing worse than looking at a website that has no information on it. Its like someone sending a text saying 'phone me', and when you do, they just tell you something they could easily have texted in the first place.

    Or something...

  11. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Mmm...

    Are we not looking at this from the wrong end of the, ummm, telescope, or something?

    Scouts isn't a shop. We're mostly not a rapaciously expanding commercial entity. I know of one or two campsites - the owners/runners of which, deliberately don't advertise because their time is limited and they simply don't want the bother. Their own district groups use it and everyone involved is comfy with that.

    Our Beaver colony limits its numbers to 16, could it take more? Probably. But why bother? If that's what the leader team is comfortable doing, then so be it.

    I would posit the notion that a lack of a basic website could equally well mean that scouting is doing fine, and we don't really need to advertise thanks very much.

    On the other hand, if you're running a big campsite like Fordell or Bonaly (both within 20m of us), then yup, you want all the info out there. Their survival relies on being used. Availability and prices online are a must, there's nothing worse than looking at a website that has no information on it. Its like someone sending a text saying 'phone me', and when you do, they just tell you something they could easily have texted in the first place.

    Or something...
    It has to depend what the purpose of the site is I guess. I'm sure very few district run their sites as a major income stream. Counties maybe more so. If the main purpose of the site is benefit local scouting, and renting it to other groups is only done to help with the costs then maybe you're right. Maybe a website isn't needed. Maybe being a well kept secret means the warden team dont end up spending time dealing with groups who leave the place in a state.

    But when you then see campsite wardens / committees saying that they don't have the funds to do XYZ (or see sites threatened with closure because they aren't bringing in enough income) then surely those sites should be trying to sell themselves.

  12. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Are we not looking at this from the wrong end of the, ummm, telescope, or something?

    Scouts isn't a shop. We're mostly not a rapaciously expanding commercial entity. I know of one or two campsites - the owners/runners of which, deliberately don't advertise because their time is limited and they simply don't want the bother. Their own district groups use it and everyone involved is comfy with that.
    Yes and no. It's got to wash its own face I reckon. No good being hardly used if that means everyone in the district has to cough up 5 in District subsidy every year to keep it going. You don't want it to be a drag on district finances, in the end that money just comes from groups/parents. Like you say, if it's a field a tap and a long drop that the district own, and annual costs are 300 or something, then you don't really need to be tweeting about it every 5 minutes.
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
    All sections, all countries, runs December 2017 - May 2018
    http://www.jambowlree.org

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    ...

    But when you then see campsite wardens / committees saying that they don't have the funds to do XYZ (or see sites threatened with closure because they aren't bringing in enough income) then surely those sites should be trying to sell themselves.
    I would agree, I think though, groups have to support these sites by using them. I know we went through a phase of attending bigger more shiny camps, but doing so meant local campsites lost out. I can see the attractions in going to bigger camps (I suppose), but it does mean the smaller sites end up potentially closing, and the bigger sites end up hoovering up the custom.

    A bit like Tesco and out of town hypermarkets clsing down local butchers and grocery shops...

    Sort of... What I mean is, its not just about camp site teams punting their site, its about groups choosing to use them. In a sense, this is another example of competition from schools - we touched on this elsewhere... At the end of the day, schools are charging small fortunes to take kids to outdoor centres with all sorts of activities laid on. Coupled with the critical mass - they have all the kids, we just have some of them...

    Its a difficult ask to sell a back to basics, backwoods camp in that context.

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    There are a couple of other issues I think make a difference to how popular small sites are:

    Travel time - I guess few groups will want to spend more than 2 hours travel time for a weekend camp; so smaller campsites in places like rural Norfolk or Devon (both of which have a number of smaller sites) may survive because Groups have few other options due to distances and poor roads.

    Land / buildings availability - noticeable how many 'sites' there were around the Peaks / North Wales... which are in old stone buildings - bought I suspect when they were cheap 40 years ago and would be next to impossible to buy now. Counties like Avon seem to have many small sites, yet big rural counties like Cambridgeshire has almost none so where they go I do not know.

    Overall my conclusion is that TSA has no strategy for campsites; and it should have one - to encourage higher standards, better information availability... If the Movement is going to grow the way they want, campsites are an important resource to support that growth; I see nothing in the latest Strategy to 2023 or in the new Branding which acknowledges campsites exist.
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnL View Post
    There are a couple of other issues I think make a difference to how popular small sites are:

    Travel time - I guess few groups will want to spend more than 2 hours travel time for a weekend camp; so smaller campsites in places like rural Norfolk or Devon (both of which have a number of smaller sites) may survive because Groups have few other options due to distances and poor roads.

    Land / buildings availability - noticeable how many 'sites' there were around the Peaks / North Wales... which are in old stone buildings - bought I suspect when they were cheap 40 years ago and would be next to impossible to buy now. Counties like Avon seem to have many small sites, yet big rural counties like Cambridgeshire has almost none so where they go I do not know.

    Overall my conclusion is that TSA has no strategy for campsites; and it should have one - to encourage higher standards, better information availability... If the Movement is going to grow the way they want, campsites are an important resource to support that growth; I see nothing in the latest Strategy to 2023 or in the new Branding which acknowledges campsites exist.
    To an extent i suspect TSA's only interest in campsites is the ones that it owns/runs directly as Scout Adventures. These provide very much a "package", and are great if what you're looking for matches that package. If you're a group from inner city london, birmingham or manchester that package is probably perfect for you. If you're a group from a small village in wales, maybe less so.

    There does seem to be an uneven spread around the UK. Some areas are rammed full of sites - others theres only one or two in a county. And its not always where you might expect - for example the Cotswolds area has relatively few sites compared, say, to Devon. In turn, Scouting have far more sites than GirlGuiding (also far more Scout Huts, whereas there are relatively few Guide HQs... but lets not drift) despite similar membership numbers.

    I can think of several Scout Sites which exist around the edges of large former country estates, which only exist because land was bequeathed to the scouts by the "lord of the manor". Perhaps this was more popular in some areas (Leicestershire springs to mind as I beleive The Oaks, Willesley and Johns Lee Wood all began in that way)

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  18. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    To an extent i suspect TSA's only interest in campsites is the ones that it owns/runs directly as Scout Adventures.
    I agree that is all they seem to consider - there only 12 Scout Adventures sites, out of over 285 Scout campsite that is a very small percentage. TSA have done nothing concrete to articulate any strategy or create any useful resources; the Places to Go work that Wayne started has died as far as I can tell.
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

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    A small campsite near us runs a county wide competition camp each september. It attracts about 700 or so down to the site to compete in a variety of challenges, and the income from that weekend funds the upkeep of the site for the rest of the year. Win - Win

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