We had a fun Summer Term (May to July) 2014, with some great new activities. The focus was very much on enjoying the great outdoors, and we made the most of the long evenings. May was particularly warm and the term started with the annual Group Family Camp at PACCAR, Chalfont Heights. This is a great site very convenient for Wargrave, with a range of interesting activities to keep Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Parents and siblings busy!
We took a couple of patrol tents, with the leaders in hike tents. Parents camped in various family tents, including a rather luxurious trailer tent! PACCAR has some superb onsite organised activities and the boys and girls enjoyed the Climbing and Abseil Wall (including falling off the famous right hand corner route ‘The Cheese Grater’!), Crate Stacking and Indoor Caving (which was an old school bus turned into a cave that was very popular and quite difficult to squeeze through the gaps and the ball pit sump!). Archery, Rifle shooting and Circus Skills were also enjoyed along with the obligatory Rabbit Run – a series of underground (and rather wet and muddy) tunnels! The camp food cooked by leaders and parent helpers was great, and we also conducted the annual Group AGM. A highlight was the visit of Hamish Stout, Berkshire County Commissioner to award Nigel ‘Nige’ Board, our Scout Leader, with the Silver Acorn in recognition of his specially distinguished and long service to Scouting. A very well deserved award, congratulations Nige!
The weather was slightly damp, but we all had a fun camp! As we were packing the van, a helicopter landed with Steve Backshall and our Chief Scout Bear Grylls, who on a tour of UK Scout Camps as part of one of their #bearintheair adventures! A number of the troop took selfies and got various body parts signed by the two celebrities!
We also spent a number of Mondays in Bowsey woods – making fires to cook sausages and dough wraps (we love cooking!), building shelters, orienteering, as well as building (and testing!) bridges made from high ropes and natural materials. We enjoyed lots of wide games, including the popular Scouts top-trumps! The Hike Night from Knoll Hill to the Kissing Gate via Bowsey Woods provided another opportunity to practice map and compass work. The ‘Troop Big Night Out’ was Dragoon Boating at Londgridge Marlow. A particularly wet evening with driving rain, but nonetheless fun and different with the boys learning a new skill.
In June we visited our local District Campsite ‘Paddicks Patch’ in Woodley for a 1-night traditional ‘Back to Basics’ Troop Camp. With superb weather, the boys camped in pairs in this wooded and sheltered site. On Saturday we hiked a 10Km scenic loop around Twyford crossing the River Loddon several times. We spotted some great wildlife including dragoon-flies and wild ponies, before enjoying a backwoods cooking supper of bacon, sausages, onions and jacket potato’s in foil on the fire. Dessert was baked apple stuffed with raisins and sugar in foil, washed down with lashings of orange or blackcurrant squash. After capture the flag wide games, we told jokes and sang songs around the camp fire enjoying a fantastic warm moonlit evening with a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows. On Sunday after a pancake breakfast, we split up into patrols and provided training and supervised use of hand axe, knife and bow saw, before striking camp, flag down and a reflection. Everyone agreed that this style of camping was fantastic fun, with delicious food and great team building. We plan to repeat this camp again at the same time next year.
Back at the Hut, we spent an evening on bike maintenance followed with a session on the nearby Wargrave BMX Track. Another fun evening was ‘Aqua splash’ which included water carrying relay races with various obstacles, a tug-of-war and then a massive super-soaker water pistol shoot-out, with everyone getting extremely wet!! We also had a pre-WINGS meeting to sort out equipment and an Investiture Evening with several boys formally joining the Troop. We handed out a well deserved bunch of badges to all of the boys that had completed various tasks over the course of the term. The last evening involved an enjoyable Summer BBQ of hot dogs, burgers, pop and wide games!
For 10 boys and a number of the leaders, more fun was to come in the form of ‘WINGS 2014’ the Windsor International Guides and Scouts Jamboree, a special event held every 5 years in Windsor Great Park…