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Thread: Summer Camp then...

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Summer Camp then...

    How was it for you?


    Ours? Well, where shall I start? The practicalities I guess...

    We went Saturday to Saturday, had a farmer's field near Corfe Castle in Dorset, in fact you could see the castle on the horizon. It was a massive field, probably 10-12 acres at a guess. Our part was sectioned off, ish, with a line of oak trees, over the other side was a scout troop and a cub pack from a group in our district. We were probably at least 100m away from them, closest tent to closest tent.

    There were 42 Explorers from across the four Units in our District.

    We went to Brownsea Island overnight on the first Saturday. This made the start of the camp complicated, but it was the only night available for our numbers when I enquired back in OCTOBER. First lesson, if you want to go to Brownsea in the very peak season, book early! As I say, this made the start of camp complex. We had to pack everything at our end, two lorries, and the Explorers in three minibuses, travel down there in convoy (walkie talkies invaluable). Once on site we got the Explorers to put up some teepees to put their stuff they wouldn't need in, then gave them all a yellow rubble sack to put all the stuff they wouldn't need to Brownsea in, then they had to repack with overnight food, trangias, fuel, hammocks or tents. Oh, I forgot the real first lesson, if you're using a farmer's field, remind the farmer a few weeks before, otherwise you might find you arrive and there are three friendly but massive bulls in your field. Lucky it was blazing hot, their pancakes got crispy very quickly.

    Talking of blazing hot, we got there and while setting up we got told that as of that day there was a total open fire ban on all National Trust land on Purbeck, that's us. Luckily a leader was off back home in the lorry that night, and another leader was coming down Sunday, so various stores were raided for loads of those little blue single burner briefcase stoves, and our local town stripped bare of the little gas canisters.

    Anyway, having got to camp, set up a bit, repacked a bit, off we went again to Brownsea, made the chain ferry in time, but missed the 4pm ferry as it left early to make way for a wedding party boat, that's why we aimed for the 4pm, as the 4:30pm is the last one - miss that and it's game over. To be fair, took me a good ten minutes to buy tickets, as I needed to count up the U16s. Lesson three: Have a list of everyone in age order, and/or be efficient and know the ticket age ranges in advance.

    Soon as the ferry disembarked I felt a massive weight lift off my shoulders. I suddenly relaxed. Nothing I could do now, anything we had forgotten, any problems, we'd just have to face them as we found them. I hadn't realised quite how stressed I must have been, I think it's the minibuses and the lorries and the chain ferry and buying tickets and kids wandering off to the shops.

    Brownsea, I didn't know what to expect really, but I found it more enjoyable and meaningful and right than I thought I would. Lesson four, don't feed the peacocks, they'll start following you around. I banned them listening to music on speakers, meanie that I am, it just didn't sit right with me, I don't mind normally, but on Brownsea it seemed like noise pollution. We met some scouts and scouters from Switzerland and Liechtenstein, scarves were swapped. Five Explorers were invested by the memorial stone. The warden lent us some wooden tables to keep our trangias off the ground due to the fire risk. The peacocks hassled us for food. My hammock looked over the water, what a great location. We went over to the pottery pier and much skimming of pottery shards was done. In the morning we went searching for red squirrels and nosied round the shop, oh and had a decent shower even though it was only day two of camp. At one point I sat the Explorers down near the stone and went through the standard day on the experimental camp, and what Baden Powell wrote about the scout laws. I actually got 20 minutes of more or less silence out of them, no backchat anyway. Shocked I was!

    Back on our site and set to setting up, mostly digging a big hole for the lats. Dining shelters went up, patrol kit issued, no fire pits to dig. Toilets up. Shower up. Stores and central kitchen sorted. Hot water dustbin arranged. They then randomly sorted their hammocks and sleeping tents out. Lots of posts and guy lines. The post basher we'd borrowed an absolute godsend for the baked dry dirt. In fact, the ground was so hard we ended up drilling holes in the bottom of buckets as we couldn't dig wet pits!

    Sunday night cooking in patrols.

    Monday, so hot again, so day hike was shortened to afternoon hike and beach. Morning spent tweaking the setup, another layer of hessian round the shower for example so it was a lot more opaque with three layers. Cooking in patrols again.

    Tuesday/Weds/Thurs we had Coasteering and Climbing booked through Land and Wave. I'd recommend them. £25 a session scout rate. Sessions 3 hours long, though gearing up, and walking the mile or so to the sea/cliff means actual time doing the actual activity is not much more than 1 1/2 hours maybe. Both activities great though, and the Explorers threw themselves into them, some overcoming much fear. As it turned out, them only having slots for the early evening 5-8pm, though it meant patrol cooking dinners was out the window, with the extreme heat it turned out to be more or less ideal. Climbing 2-5pm would have been a much sweatier affair. In the mornings we went to Splashdown (tickets for 48 booked the day before on their website - what an age we live in), great fun, I recommend getting there early as queues get big after 11 or so. Walked to Corfe Castle, turned out some had been there three weeks previous on a Geography trip, and the Purbeck Mine and Mineral Museum/Arne Nature reserve, the former having a lovely cool bit down the mine, the latter having a beach and a new cafe that had toilets that took your breath away in their lushness.

    Friday we took a steam train from Norden into Swanage, kicked around in cafes and on beaches, and after my warning not to get piercings in the pre trip briefing, (after last year's "events") some got temporary tattoos. We laughed. Fish and chips, survived some stormy weather, got all the kit down mostly dry, and home we came.

    One night the catering husband and wife did a paella for 50. Best camp meal ever. Prawns, giant prawns, mussels, the lot. I'm awaiting receipts with slight trepidation but it was so worth it.

    Other fun was the cattle trough that got emptied out, cleaned, and refilled, got used a lot to wash the sea salt and sand off, and generally have fun in. Needed emptying and refilling at the end to get rid of the strong coconut smell and soapy feel from all the hair conditioner in it.

    Those last two things are probably what the camp will be remembered for, very random.

    Anyway, Dorset's lovely. I commend it to the house. Oh, and the National Trust are apparently, there at least, trying to encourage mixed use of their properties, so are encouraging scout camps there. Worth a thought if you're the green field type/can hire portaloos.

    Feedback has been massively positive from parents and kids.

    So, what about you then?
    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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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Sounds like you had a fun trip!

    We did Wednesday to Tuesday at Gradbach in the Peak District. 22 scouts for the full week plus 21 cubs for the first half.

    Wednesday was really just getting there and getting set up. Been a while since we did a camp of that scale numbers wise so took a bit longer than expected. Thursday was bivouacing building in the morning on site followed by a bit of orienteering round Alderly edge for the scouts in the afternoon followed by caving in the evening led by Derbyshire scouts caving team. Feed back from the scouts is that this was the highlight. They want to go back and do a full weekend of caving and do the badge.

    Friday was hot hot hot! We had a hike over the roaches but in the heat it took a lot longer than planned. We were thankful for vehicles to get water ferried in to points along the route. Friday night was a centrally catered feast! The GSL has built his own pizza oven which he brought with us although in this case it was used to do a full roast.

    Saturday was some pioneering for the scouts AM while the cubs went rock climbing. The scouts built this tremendous trebuchet! PM we went rock climbing while the cubs went home. By then the weather was deteriorating and the walk into crags was pretty exposed wet and windy! Again Derbyshire scouts provided the instructors who were brilliant.

    Sunday was a wash out. We were meant to go mountain biking again with Derbyshire scouts. Alas the weather was persistent torrential rain and high winds. It would have been dangerous to go. AM we gave them a lie in, had a 10.30am brunch then covered some of the wordy bits of the outdoor challenge, country code, bit of first aid etc in the mess tent. PM the weather eased of and we did a short hike to Dane Bridge which was very pretty.

    Monday was Alton Towers. Which was AMAZING! For those of us with a love of rollercoasters I got to go with the gang of scouts who wanted to do all the scary stuff. Got through the gate the moment it opened and were on the first rides of the day. Also got to show my maturity and how I have no need of growing up. At all.

    Tuesday we came home!

    We had a joint scout of the camp between two scouts. One of who I was really chuffed with. She is a natural clown normally who takes nothing seriously. She was made acting PL for the camp as hers wasn't there and she was amazing! There's another bit of video I haven't uploaded yet from the trebuchet building where she totally took control. Looks like she could be at Sandhurst! Will post another time.

    Starting to plan next year now....

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    Wow. Your camp sounds amazing, Ian. Brings back memories of my youth when our summer camps were always green field, somewhere on a farm near Brecon. We may need a bit of a run up before we attempt that in my current group, but not impossible.

    Ours was Sunday-Saturday at Ferny Crofts, in the New Forest. My first camp organised and led with my shiny new NAP, so I think my initial stress levels were probably higher than they needed to be, as we've got a great team of experienced Leaders who all did their bit and made it a successful camp. Not a huge event; we had 17 Scouts across the whole age range, and 5 leaders, with 2 extra leaders arriving towards the end of the camp (a godsend as we were starting to wilt a little by then).

    Ferny Crofts was booked solid but it didn't feel overly crowded; our field site, backing onto the woods, gave us plenty of space and the option of some shade when the temperature on the field got too much (and the opportunity to get everyone in a hammock for at least one night). We too had fun with the hard baked soil - in the end we managed with wooden pegs for the Scout canvas, only losing a few plus one broken mallet courtesy of my son (why is it always the Leader's kids???). The Scouts didn't complain once about setting up camp in the 30 degree heat (troop tents, icelandics, dining shelters, a huge canvas mess tent etc), which impressed me.

    Given the fire risk and the shortage of wood on site (and there was a "no collecting wood beyond this point" notice on the gate leading out of the camp site, it's not allowed in the New Forest byelaws!) I opted for the patrols to cook on gas for the week, using our collection of venerable but dependable Foker cast iron burners. The first time on summer camp in living memory it seems, and initially some Scouts were unhappy that they couldn't play with fire all week, but halfway through the camp a lot of the Scouts were commenting that they liked being able to have their food ready half an hour after starting, rather than collecting/prepping wood for hours, getting the fire going to the point it could be cooked on etc. etc. The food was even consistently edible throughout the week, and at least two sets of parents have since reported that their Scout has cooked one of the meals for them at home following the camp (#SkillsForLife...). One evening we rented the on-site pizza oven (I know, luxury) which was also great fun; the Scouts producing some excellent pizzas, as well as one or two bizarre creations that were still edible even if they didn't look it.

    Varied activities during the week, both on and off site, including raft building, tomahawk throwing, zip lining, knife, axe and saw training etc. As the heat built towards the middle of the week the planned day hike was rescheduled as a pre-dawn hike out onto the heathland to watch the sun rise. A fellow Leader managed to convince some of the Scouts that it was actually their idea (genius), and the rest took to the thought of a 4.30am start with great enthusiasm. Highlight of the week for many (including two leaders who joined in) was a visit to the New Forest Water Park, to play on the huge inflatable assault course in the middle of their lake - to be recommended as a mid-summer activity.

    The only variation to the plan was that the weather forecast started to take a turn for the worse towards the end of the week, with the potential for thunderstorms and rain the morning we were due to strike camp. Given the amount of heavy canvas we had up, and that we needed to be off site by noon on the Saturday, the decision was made to strike camp and leave late afternoon on the Friday. OSM came into it's own, allowing me to alert the parents of our plans via bulk email, and keep track of who had opened the message, sending a text to a few that hadn't. As it turned out we had a short spell of rain very early Friday morning but everything dried out again in time to pack away and get off site by around 3.30pm. So much better returning kit to the stores dry, and the next day was wet and extremely windy, so a good call I think!

    All the Scouts fell asleep in the minibus on the way home (bliss) and from current feedback it seems they all had a great time. Ferny Crofts was a good site; not particularly cheap but the facilities were excellent, and the on-site team couldn't do enough to help, despite being worked off their feet, so all credit to them.

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    Sat to Sat at a greenfield site near Dunmow with 16 scouts. Main theme of the camp was the hot weather!

    Sat - Arrived in the morning and got the tents up then decided given the temperatures an afternoon swimming & relaxing was a good idea.

    Sun - Finished setting up camp - patrol sites etc.. then in the afternoon wood collecting and games (probably managed to get a swim in at some point as well). Patrols cooked their own meals for dinner - we had taken stoves in case but the field was pretty green so we were fine with fires (farmer had left the grass a bit longer to try and help which seemed to work).

    Monday - Scouts cooked breakfast then we spent the morning making rafts and fishing rods (not at the same time). Afternoon was then using the rafts before cooking evening meal and games in the evening.

    Tuesday - Early (and rather rushed start) before heading out to the Secret Nuclear Bunker for a morning on the high ropes then bunker tour after lunch. High ropes was really good (had the place to ourselves pretty much) and they all found the bunker interesting.

    Weds - Temperatures were starting to get really hot now (>30C) so it was a fairly relaxed day. Scouts built shelters and then games / swimming before dinner. Camp fire in the evening which went well before sleeping in their shelters.

    Thurs - Cancelled the planned hike due to the weather (and it wasn't a particularly interesting route anyway) so more swimming / games / surviving. It was budget meals for dinner where the patrols are given £25 to feed themselves and two or three leaders with a three course meal so they spent some time planning before PLs and assistants went of to Tesco to do the shopping and then cooking on their return. Slept in shelters again. SL and myself woke up around 04:00 to a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain. Thought to ourselves "they must have gone into their tents right?"... went out to check on them and they were mostly fast asleep but all under their shelters with sleeping bags sticking out the ends etc.. getting soaked so got them up and into tents so they could stay dry (or at least not get any wetter).

    Fri - Started packing up so we didn't have so much to do on Sat, swimming in the afternoon before torrential rain and more thunderstorms came through. BBQ in the evening.

    Sat - Pack up after breakfast before heading home

    All in all a great camp even if we did less activities then planned. First time we have used portaloos on camp and they worked really well, digging lats would have been a nightmare in the heat we had.

    Various photos up at https://www.facebook.com/1steastcotescouts/

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    Would be interested to know how much ya'll charge for your summer camps versus the kinds of things you do...

    So far I feel a wee bit guilty about not doing anything for the Scout section... Although we're away on Sunday with 16 Explorer Scouts for the week - this will be the last Explorer trip we do (for now, not for ever...) Its shaping up to be decent.

    Hopefully the weather holds...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Would be interested to know how much ya'll charge for your summer camps versus the kinds of things you do...

    So far I feel a wee bit guilty about not doing anything for the Scout section... Although we're away on Sunday with 16 Explorer Scouts for the week - this will be the last Explorer trip we do (for now, not for ever...) Its shaping up to be decent.

    Hopefully the weather holds...
    Ours was £240 for scouts for 6 nights including transport there and back, caving, climbing, mountain biking and Alton Towers. Transport involved hiring two minibuses, a van and putting some of them on a train there and back.

    The cubs was £100 for 3 nights including caving and rock climbing and again transport there and back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Would be interested to know how much ya'll charge for your summer camps versus the kinds of things you do...
    £160 for ours (see above). We hired 2 vans and a minibus and had the day trip as well as food / gas / few other bits.

    Sent from my F8331 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Would be interested to know how much ya'll charge for your summer camps versus the kinds of things you do...
    We charged £180 for ours, probably deliberately undercharged by £20 or so as we'd done some fundraising for it. Not done the final tally up mind you.

    Borrowed two minibuses off a private school for £zero. Another one hired off another school for £1 a mile (so £330 for the week). Borrowed a luton sized lorry for free off of a leader's firm, and hired a 7.5 tonner, had both for just the weekends, would have been a squeeze/overloaded on the 7.5t one, probably two lutons would have been fine. Had to fuel them all.

    So each kid got:
    Brownsea overnight (£14)
    Splashdown (£10)
    Coasteering (£25)
    Climbing (£25)
    Steam train into Swanage (£7)
    Plus free stuff like hikes and beach and castle.
    And fed. They got fed. Well.
    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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    Had a bit of a leader debrief last night, one who was only there taking lorries up and down both weekends had two explorers on camp, and I quote "no complaints from my two, and that's high praise indeed".
    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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    Our summer camp was Saturday to Friday (returned yesterday) in Drum Hill, Derby. Cost £190. We had Scouts and leaders from both troops in our group.

    We had eight Scouts age range from 10.5 to 12. It was interesting to have that lower level if maturity. No reason we had young ones. The older ones and all the others all seemed to have plans.

    We had central cooking with patrols helping on a rota. Although it was more led by a leader than we have done in the past. We had a fire ban so even our backwoods day was stopped.

    On Saturday we drove up (took around five hours). We arrived with a nasty wind. It was a big challenge to get our event tent up. We had Scouts and me hanging off of it to prevent it taking off and other leaders storm lashing it as we went. We got it up with no incidents, just a dent in the time plan and our adrenaline.

    Icelandics were also a challenge to put up. Four scouts could not hold it against the wind. It started raining just as we were finishing.

    So by the time we had pitched and unpacked it was dinner time. We had a wide game. Then cocoa, cake and bed.

    Sunday we had a day of kayaking on the Derwent. That was good fun. We had three instructors plus me. I know the basics but I am in no position to help (other than remind them to sit up straight). Most Scouts had limited experience so it was more of a taster session. We did do capsize drill. All but one scout did it. One of my scouts looked petrified. And was quietly saying to me he doesn’t want to do it. I spent some time trying to enthuse him. Eventually he hesitatingly agreed but looked like he would back out. He did it with the help of a leader (flipped him). That could have gone two ways - empowered him or scared him off for life. The beauty of camp is we had the time to chat through it with him and make a call whether he was getting flipped or not based on a lot more info (body language) than we could do in an evening session or a half day in the water. We also went down a canoe slide, although not that scout. I told him later how brave he was in facing that fear. It was also a chance if a shower - for some the only shower if the week.

    Monday we did a hike to Mam Tor and Cave Vale. We had to shorten our route. The Scouts took five hours to get up, cook breakfast, eat breakfast (they are so slow!), pack a lunch, wash up and pack their day bag. So in the bus up there we had a major rehung if the route. Also being careful about the temporary and specific supervisory permit our hill walker had. The hike went without incident. I managed it with my limited fitness. Plus we managed to get one leader to his train on time as he was back to work the next day (so down to three leaders). But we were eating our fish and chips much later than I would have hoped.

    Tuesday was our big ticket day. We went ghyll scrambling from Snake Road towards Kinder Scout with Lost Earth Adventures. It was worth the price. The scouts loved it. There were smiles. Although one scout was so skinny and small that his wetsuit did not fit and he was cold. So at the base of Kinder Scout, in a stream, whilst others were climbing a waterfall, I was making him do Hamburger, cheese burger, lettuce and tomato camp fire song with all the actions, minus the half jump. The bizarre things you do as a leader.

    Tuesday evening we had a patrol cooking competition. So they got to plan their meal, buy the food and cook it on a double gas burner in a hastily constructed field kitchen. For at least one scout this was the highlight of the week. We must allow space for more of this in the future. But it is not a good marketing point. Parents and scouts don’t see the value in it . Both sets of food was edible.

    Wednesday we stayed on site and did pioneering. It took a lot longer than expected. The scouts got bored. Yet one scout has said it was his favourite thing of the week. I suspect their opinions changed as the tower was hauled up. At that stage they could see the value of their efforts (or lack their of) and get to go up. Good job we cancelled the backwoods cooking late afternoon/evening. That pioneering finished late.

    Thursday kayaking on the river Trent. All the Scouts improved with the majority actually understanding what they were doing. So some are now better than me (not a very high bar). And we had the incident that will be regaled in stories for a long time - swangate.

    We had past many, many swans on the river. Some were getting huffy and we stopped and gave them a wide berth. Those swans were happy with that. But Mr Swan was the Gandalf of the swan world, “thou shall not pass”. Green leader (for want if a better name) was the first to encounter him as he came round a bend. Him and the scout that was near to him had to paddle fast up stream to get out of the way and we all huddled in a eddy working out a plan. Mr Swan would sit in the middle of the river with his wings half up and giving us the evil eye. Then he would glide over into the big reed bed at one side of the river. Then Mrs Swan and two signets would appear from behind the bend on the other side of the river and glide over to her mate. Mr Swan would cross the river again, glaring and being assertive. We just had a pattern of cross-crossing of swans. Green leader waited for an opportune moment then paddle through. Mr Swan was not happy. He chased him down, including taking off from the water, which always looks and sounds dramatic, heading straight for green leader. Fortunately green leader got past the territory before Mr Swan caught him. Mr Swan was happy for green leader to wait the other side of his territory so long as he did not venture in again. But green leader’s card was marked. He was now most hated human. The rest of us (eight scouts, one leader/instructor (blue leader) and myself) were stuck. We had a few attempts where we were seen off. We could not get out the river. Our scouts were not strong enough to paddle against the flow for the distance needed to safely egress from the river. We had to go forward. But...Thou shall not pass. Eventually we had a half plan of two at a time. We waited until all swans were out of sight. I took one scout. We were chased down that stretch. Scout was ahead of me so OK. All I could hear as “for God sake keep paddling” and we got through. Although that put pay to two at a time. And now blue leader had to do the planning on his own. We could shout but we did not wish to disturb the Swan family any further. The end was a quick attempt to keep the bank and paddle down swiftly. But the scouts were like rubber ducks in a bath bumping into each other. Mr Swan and one scout wee having a stare off at one stage. That scout was more terrified than anything else. But Mr Swan did not actually attempt to physically engage anyone - thankfully. We all got through with no injuries. So all was good.

    Then Friday was all about packing up and going home. We were on the road within 40 minutes of the time we aimed for. But the drive back took 6:30.

    Some observations

    - Scouts are not taught table manners at home or school. Some cannot use a knife and fork properly - that will go down well when they start dating. They constantly chatter so ignore the food in their plate. It took the whole week to get them into the habit of staying put until the last person had finished. As there were three very slow eaters, that could be 30 minutes after the first had finished eating.

    - Scouts do not know how to wash up and dry up. I know we all know this. It just gets me every time.

    - Scouts cannot chop up. Even little things like a cucumber. The the knives were good knives.

    - Scout camp is always different from previous ones. Previous years they had been many lectures about litter. But this year not one reminder. Even on the way home when they were issued satsumas apples and bought some junk food. At the end I had a quick check if the bus and could only find still that leaders had left!

    - I am sick of hearing “Claire”. It took me five days to remember the response should be “ask your patrol leader”. For this camp, “Ask your patrol leader” would have resulted in bewildered PLs for most of it. They were just too young and inexperienced.

    - Do take YLs. They are great at getting the scouts to actually move. I really missed them this camp.

    - The smiles. The odd sentences. The look when they have achieved something.

    - Scout camp is hard work. But the rewards are worth it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by claire.shadbolt View Post

    - Scouts do not know how to wash up and dry up. I know we all know this. It just gets me every time.

    - Scouts cannot chop up. Even little things like a cucumber. The the knives were good knives.
    Claire
    Sounds a good summer camp to me
    I can see with only 2 Patrols that Patrol cooking can actually seem harder than central cooking - but repeated practise is the only way they will learn - do you do the Chef Activity badge with the troop - my old Troop ran it every year in January for the younger Troop members so that everyone got to practise the basics of cooking
    John
    “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
    Claire
    Sounds a good summer camp to me
    I can see with only 2 Patrols that Patrol cooking can actually seem harder than central cooking - but repeated practise is the only way they will learn - do you do the Chef Activity badge with the troop - my old Troop ran it every year in January for the younger Troop members so that everyone got to practise the basics of cooking
    John
    With fire bans, limited adults and various activities planned, we made the decision that central cooking made sense for this camp. As it was two patrols they all got plenty of practice.

    Many of the scouts were that young that we did not have them in January! If you cannot hold a dinner knife properly to cut your food on your plate then using a knife to chop a cucumber is going to be difficult. This was not just one scout.

    Our troop already have a cooking night planned for next term. And a practice session for the District cooking competition. Those will cover off chef’s badge. We did the same thing last year.


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  21. #13
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    Butcher's Coppice

    7 nights at Butcher's Coppice in Bournemouth with about 25 beavers, cubs, scouts (for varying lengths).

    Scouts did patrol camping but ended up with a lot of centrally cooked food in the end. Fire ban meant no altar fires, bu there is a fire area and campfire circle we could use occasionally.

    Food was a challenge. For 8 scouts it was not unusual to be doing three versions of essentially the same meal to cater for allergies and the like . (Not just "don't like / won't eat" preferences.). This made patrol cooking very slow, and doubled the number of pots and pans that needed to be washed up. I would never want to exclude a YP on the grounds of dietary requirements, but there is no denying that it has an impact.

    The on site activities were very good, but there is a risk of being expensive ( per YP) depending on numbers.

    Day trip to Brownsea was great, but hot! Afternoon/evening hike over Canford Heath was rounded off with helping with a research project into birds on the heath after dusk which went down really well. The red arrows flew past twice on the final evening and we camped under the stars on the last night. (The plan had been to take down all the tents, but torrential rain meant abandoning that plan).

    As ever, it was the little things that made the camp memorable. Everyone was well behaved, there were no squabbles ,and some made remarkable turnarounds from homesickness. Card games featured a lot (to the point they were banned when off site), which was quite pleasing to see. (They are a) relaxing, b) quiet and C) sociable).

    Any group that doesn't have a burco water heater - order one!! I never want to heat water in a kettle over gas again!

  22. #14
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    9 Days green field camping in the Breacon Beacons near Pen Y Fan with 12 Scouts, 4 Explorers and 10 adults.

    We had to find a new farm to camp at 2 weeks before the camp due to the lack of rain affecting the spring providing drinking water to the farm we had booked to camp at. Luckily we found a good if not quite as nice alternative site to camp at that was on mains water.

    We arrived at the farm on the Saturday after a 6 hour plus journey (inc lunch stop). We looked around the field and decided where everything was going to be pitched only for the heavens to open and a thunderstorm to start!. Luckily this didn't last too long allthough it rained on and off all evening and we got the tents up despite it being quite windy. We managed to get 2 out of the 4 required fire places dug out but had to cook half the food centrally on our two double burner gas stoves.

    I woke up on the Sunday morning to hear rain on the tent and very strong winds. I put some guys on Leader's tents back in before heading off to the toilet. On my way back one of the corner pegs on a dining shelter was ripped out by the wind and I was busy pegging this back in when suddenly the entire mess tent we use as a food and kit store was inverted on top of a couple of Leader tents (we had two ropes over the top of the tent). This exposed our marquee to the full force of the gusts of winds and whilst we were sorting out the mess tent some of the guys on the marquee started to be pulled out. So we moved two vehicles to act as wind breaks for the marquee and took the decision to drop two of the 3 dining shelters before they were lost to the wind. We then proceeded to repeg out the marquee better (hard ground had prevented the pegs being fully driven in before, the amount of rain meant this was no longer a problem). We then checked the two nijers which the Scouts were in and then hunkered down to ride out the storm in the marquee and nijers, providing plenty of hot drinks. After lunch held in the marquee we went into Brecon for a couple of hours of free time (I bought some extra and better metal pegs for Leader and Explorer tents and for the mess tent). Luckily the rain stopped about 4pm and although it was still windy the gusts were not as strong and we were able to light fires to cook our evening meals on. We also decided we would risk repitching the mess tent which luckily had only got a couple of poles slightly bent and I was able to bend them back straight using the kit trailer frame as a leverage point (thanks goodness we got the better quality poles). Remarkably the two Leader tents the mess tent had landed on were somehow undamaged. This time we put 3 ropes over the mess tent and pegged them out firmly with larger pegs and we used the extra metal pegs we had purchased to peg out the inside peg loops which we don't normally have to use.

    We were relieved to wake up on the Monday to sunshine and although it was still windy the gusts were much less strong. The activity on the Monday was at an indoor climbing and high ropes centre with half the kids attending in the morning and half in the afternoon. Which meant that half were left in camp so could finish setting up their patrol areas which they had not been able to do the day before given the conditions. There were a couple of showers but mostly the weather was good.

    On the Tuesday we visited Big Pit and of course it was lovely and sunny whilst we were on the underground mine tour.

    Wednesday was a day in camp including cooking a roast dinner in the afternoon, it was hot and sunny all day. In the late afterniin we had a camp olympics competition before having a lovely picnic tea. In the evening a wide game was organised with some convoluted background story to do with pit props (spaghetti sticks) and coal (potatoes)

    Thursday's activity was open caneoing on the River Wye which was really enjoyable and it was sunny and hot to the extent that most of the Scouts & Explorers finished the canoeing sessions with a swim in the river. This was split into morning and afternoon Groups with the opposite group going swimming at Brecon Leasuire Centre for floats and infaltable sessions.

    Friday's activity was gorge scrambling (and jumping). Again this was spilt into morning and afternoon groups with those left in camp doing a mini orienteering. This activity was the high light of the camp and all the kids and Leader who took part really enjoyed themselves even those that chose not to do the two big jumps at the end.

    The Saturday activity was walking with Explorers and a couple of older Scouts dong a more challenging walk whilst the rest of the Scouts did a low level walk mainly next to streams or rivers to Brecon. Its was roasting hot for the walks and we had to ensure we took plenty of water and sun cream with us. After their walk the Explorers and older Scouts were driven to Brecon to meet up with the Scouts to have fish and chips by the river in Brecon.

    Sunday was taken up with the task of packing up camp ready for the 5+ hour journey back to Leeds. It was again sunny and hot which made my task of packing all the camping kit back into our kit trailer rather trying as it was boiling hot in the trailer. A mix up with the train tickets also didn't help (I forgot to give the train party the tickets before they left camp for the 30 min journey to abergavenny, luckily they realised half way there but they still missed their train by 10 mins)

    All in all it was a fantastic camp and we had a great time desite the somewhat challenging conditions for the first couple of days.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Assistant Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Sat to Sat at Blackland Farm, nr East Grinstead. Charged £165. 9 scouts, 3 YL and 5 leaders. We had vehicle difficulties all the way up to the start of camp with our original van not being available and the size of our minibus shrinking but we got helped out by an ex-leader and it all worked well.

    Weather on the first Sat was atrocious - scouts (and leaders) struggled with the high winds and Sunday was a washout. Ended up central cooking until Monday morning. Then the weather changed and we had amazing sun for the duration.
    Activities included zip line, axe throwing, pot holing, sumo suits, climbing challenge, archery, shooting, grass sledging, swimming, climbing/bouldering wall and an afternoon geocaching.

    In general the week was good. Both patrols struggled with leadership and getting jobs done and the PL and APL in one patrol just couldn't meet in the middle when it came to decisions. Cooked on gas most meals but did two fire cooking and they did some firelighting too so got to play with the flames. We did have some problems with a YL being VERY back chatty almost resulting in me losing a leader Monday evening and a few minor annoyances mainly between the leaders. We have a big age gap in our team - me (36) and another in his late 40s and then the three younger leaders who are all under 20. Couple of them just liked to have the last word and like to boss around or have to be asked to muck in with jobs rather than taking an active role. Things to work on I guess although two are moving to uni in Sept.

    I was a little worried about one lad who suffered badly with homesickness on a weekend camp in April and the first day or so he made comments about going home especially with regards to the weather, but by the end of the week he was a new person. Mum messaged me and said he had two new camp songs to sing (Baby Shark and Bungalow) and if he taught them with enthusiasm she would treat him to a Fortnite accessory. He did it, bossed everyone around and his mum has messaged saying he came home a new kid for the better from camp. Love those sort of messages.
    Woul
    Enjoying the rest of the summer now aside from the sorting and then thinking about next year! We're based in Hampshire and I would love to go to the west (Somerset, Dorset) direction if anyone has any recommendations.

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