Hi Everyone – Firstly, to anyone that doesn’t know me, I’m Mike Jones – or Magic (just without the tricks) – Assistant Scout Leader here at Garland Scout Troop. I’m one of the ASL’s of Garland Troop here at 5th NFN Testwood. The remainder of the leadership team is made up of – Big Bad Barry, Joe “Lord of Stuff”, Stu, Julie, Picky Vicky, Maximus and Harold.
Since last year’s A.G.M Garland Troop has had a very busy year and a bit, taking part in most of the district competitions. For the first time that I know of we managed to enter not one, not two but three very competitive teams into the Eagle Trophy night incident hike. With so many scouts wanting to get involved we split them into groups of similar skill and experience levels – this meant that newer scouts could learn together and the more experienced old hats could sprint the event, smashing through each of the challenges and ultimately bring home the very fine trophy you see before you. All three teams did exceptionally well though for their skill levels and completed the entire course and all activities along the route well within their allotted time.
As we’ve jumped to after the summer holidays for this AGM it means we have not one but two amazing summer camps to report on….Summer 18 was a trip to the beautiful Frome, – on arrival we witnessed the first rain for around 3 months and it came down properly, but we got through it with some impromptu games and trials in the fantastic woodland the site has to offer. The leaders set up some wonderful “assault course” style fun and the scouts had great fun completing the course….and then trying to do it all with a jug of water in their hands! The rest of the week was back to the hot weather we were used to and climbing, abseiling, walking, Longleat safari’ing and a wonderful trip into the beautiful town of Frome all came together with some site activities: should I mention the ballista challenge in which the leaders just snatched victory by around the length of 20 double decker buses, nah, I won’t mention that. The end to our camp was rounded off beautifully with a VIP visit from non other than Delrae – Joshy had a special treat on the Saturday so managed to get out of packing away but it meant that we got to treat Delrae to our traditional last night of camp group curry night. This summer saw us travelling down to Devon, this time to a new site for us as a group called Cadihoe, nestled amongst the trees a few miles north of Exeter. The site is quite a large one and we had the pleasure of a huge field to ourselves and shared the site with a few other groups during the week. We started camp with the usual setting up and went straight into a “short” hike to explore the area and look at a very old working water mill. Many miles and plenty of sunshine later we decided that we could now tick off the day hike from the programme! For the rest of the week, we enjoyed two different open air pools to help us cool down, climbed and caved at a fantastic centre in the heart of Exeter, explored a big hill in the rain (a lot of rain!), spent a day out in Teignmouth, made some delicious camp fire pizzas and generally had lots of fun in between removing a gazillion ticks…makes a change from being plagued by wasps I suppose!
Staying on the camp theme – County winter was its usual fun packed weekend, with the scouts focusing on fun while we the leader team cooked for them – strangely, everything seems to get done a lot quicker! We’ve had two cycle camps, one very, very wet one last September where unfortunately we had to take the sad decision to send home quite a few of the younger scouts on the Sunday morning before anyone got poorly, the remaining few got to discover what covering ground quickly means on the Sunday as we hacked back at pace to avoid any more downpours. Then this June we did another – thankfully with much better weather this time and with the longer days allowing more time for building camp and feeding ourselves in daylight. We will also be running an invitation only extended cycle camp at the end of this month where we intend to cover a lot more distance to really stretch the legs of our more experienced riders (and possibly finish off some of our leaders!). Switching back to last year and on the build up to last Christmas there was a growing and rather concerning level of discomfort……………at the number of camps we’d done with a complete absence of fire – summer 18 was fire free due to the 3 months of no rain, cycle camp was too wet and county winter is a fire free camp so we needed to restore the balance in our lives. Hence, Fire Camp was born – from arrival to departure we had a fire burning and our souls were left feeling rejuvenated once more. Preceding the successful weekend of the Eagle was our Polar expedition, a fantastic weekend and great seeing some of our younger members digging in and getting to grips with camping and expeditions. They had some real excitement on the first day by getting to witness New Forest Dog Sled Racing as they made their way from Brockenhurst across to Ferny. Plenty of sunshine on the Sunday completed a great weekend. With warmer weather and summer camp on the horizon we embarked on Skills Camp, an opportunity for the scouts to learn new and hone existing camping skills – other than the rain of the Friday night, which could only be described as biblical, everyone had a great weekend with a total of 17 young people attending – an amazing turn out for a camp where they actually have to do some work and cook for the leaders. And I think that rounds up the camp review…..I don’t think I’ve missed any!
Outside of camps we had our district event diary – have I mentioned the Eagle trophy win yet? Oh yes, may have done. So maybe I should mention the district camping competition, the qualifying session for the county camping competition. We had some very keen hands thrust into the air for taking part in this years camping comp and we instantly had our team. All the kit was prepared, they were dropped at camp. They completed the weekend of judged camping, showing off their pitching, layout, cooking, cleaning, general behaviour and finally breaking camp…..only to find out that all of their hard work was to be paid off by coming home the winners – no small feat I have to say from attending a previous years event. Those involved should stand, very rightly, proud of their fantastic achievement – we also as a group would like to wish them the best of luck at the county competition. Onto the swimming gala….well, we can’t win everything, but an awesome and very close second place is still a great accomplishment. District football tournament – well, as a group we felt it only fair to let another group have a chance of a trophy in their cabinet so we sat that one out.
As you are probably all now getting bored of my voice I should probably start to wrap up…oh hang on, I haven’t mentioned anything of our usual Monday night capers yet!
Last years Monday nights saw us preparing for cycle camp with a little bike maintenance; soap box practice, putting up tents in the dark, a games night in which Joe spent his afternoon turning Garland Lodge into a health and safety nightmare ready for ultimate Submarines (possibly the second most requested game we get) and brushing up on map work – this time utilizing the skills of our patrol leaders to bring the less skilled ones up whilst developing their own leadership skills. Halloween, which we celebrated with a horrifying trip to Ferny Crofts and some rather interesting games involving the bits the butchers can’t sell without grinding up into sausages. I’ll leave that one with you. We continued on the run up to Christmas with some fun Team Challenges, a dip at Totton Pool, First Aid Refresher, Christmas Craft and finally our traditional Fancy Dress Christmas Party. On return from the Christmas break we had the very doubtful young people making rope from (clean) toilet paper – the resulting record being 10kg held in a bucket by toilet paper alone – a fine achievement. We also spent a couple of weeks preparing all of the young people for the rigors of winter walking in readiness for the Polar Expedition. We celebrated Chinese New Year (of the Pig) with some extraordinarily imaginative model building, a couple of sessions of outdoor cooking sandwiching our annual Pancake night, which incidentally, I hasten to add, was flipping great. We’ve also explored with the young people the various challenges people face when they have disability imposed upon them, including some blind fold games and challenges – we also discovered the beauty of ear defenders in a room full of scouts. Following Easter and a great turn out for St.George’s Day we had plenty of fun and subtle learning opportunities…..Nerf Gun battles (preparation for something in life I’m sure?), Gadget Building (useful on any camp and also at home), Patrol Leaders Mystery Night (when is fire lighting not a useful skill!), Shelter Building (this simply highlighted how rubbish they are at building a shelter – I can see this being a future programme item), Cycle Maint (essential prior to cycle camp!), Pioneering fun (well build a couple of structures, suspend a pole between them and battle it out in a pillow fight – this is all useful learning for entering It’s a knockout and Wipeout later in life!), Australian Christmas (well why not at the furthest point from Christmas), Outdoor cooking (again, when would this not be a useful skill and certainly when the pheasants need skinning first) a super treat was in store when the young people got to play in the water at Ferny Croft with some loose barrels, a few pioneering poles and the odd bit of rope….all in the guise of allegedly “rafting”. And finally, wrapping up our summer term was our annual trip to Lepe and the opportunity to catch crabs. Splendid.
And that, as they say, is that – thank you for listening….back to…..