Scout summer camp 2018
6th August 2018 by Claire Shadbolt
The camp with Mr Swan, the Gandalf of the swan world.
Scouts from Snowdon and Scafell camped together at our 2018 summer camp.
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 adults weighing it down 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 (patrol tents) were also a challenge to put up. Four scouts could not hold it against the wind. But with a bit of perseverance, up they went. It started raining just as we were finishing, but we kept our kit dry. After the resent scorching weather the rain was welcome. 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. Most Scouts did a capsize drill. The beauty of camp is that we have time to spend encouraging the Scouts to try new things and to develop their skills – we needed this time to persuade some of the Scouts to tip themselves in! The canoe slide was also proved a big hit for some of the Scouts. It was also a chance if a shower – for some the only shower if the week. They did have lots of opportunity to use the showers on our camp site, they just chose not to use them.
Monday we did a hike to Mam Tor and Cave Vale. It was a bit of a late start. There was no real reason for it, just getting into the swing of doing all the tasks needed to successfully and comfortably camp. The hike went well, slightly slower than planned. The views at the top were amazing. And we managed to get one leader to his train on time as he was back to work the next day (so now there were three leaders). But we were eating our fish and chips a bit later than predicted.
Tuesday was our big ticket day. We went ghyll scrambling from Snake Road towards Kinder Scout with Lost Earth Adventures. The scouts loved it. There were lots of smiles. Whilst waiting for others to climb a waterfall at the base of Kinder Scout, in order to make sure the Scouts did not get cold, Claire was leading a rendition of “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. They got to plan their meal, buy the food and cook it on a double gas burner in specially constructed field kitchens. We must allow space for more of this in the future. The Scouts got so much out of this. Not only learning how to feed themselves in conditions more challenging than your average kitchen, but they were also having a lot of fun with it. For at least one scout this was the highlight of the week. Both patrols produced some interesting food.
Wednesday we stayed on site and did pioneering. One scout said it was his favourite thing of the week. We built a tower using ropes and poles and hauled it up using a pulley.
On Thursday we went kayaking on the river Trent. All the Scouts improved their paddling technique with the majority actually understanding what they were doing. We also had the incident that will be regaled in stories for a long time – Swangate.
We had passed many, many swans on the river. Some were getting huffy and we made sure we 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”. Tony was the first to encounter him as he came round a bend. He and the scout that was near to him had to paddle back up stream to get out of the way and we all huddled in an 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, as Mrs Swan and two cygnets appeared from behind the bend on the other side of the river and glided over to her mate, Mr Swan crossed the river again, glaring and being assertive. This happened a number of times – we just had a pattern of criss-crossing of swans. Tony waited for an opportune moment then paddled through, but Mr Swan was not happy. He chased him down the river, including taking off from the water, which always looks and sounds dramatic, heading straight for Tony. However once he got past the territory, Mr Swan was happy for Tony to wait there so long as he did not venture in again. But Tony’s card was marked. He was now most hated human. The rest of us (eight scouts, Graham and Claire) were stuck. We had a few attempts at passing but were seen off. We could not get out the river where we were, it was a long way for the Scouts to paddle against the flow to safely egress from the river, we had to go forward, but…Thou shall not pass! Eventually we decided to attempt two at a time. We waited until all swans were out of sight and Claire paddled forward with one scout. Mr Swan was not best pleased and kept a close eye on them, all Claire could hear was “Just keep paddling!” and they got through. Now Graham had to do the planning on his own. We could shout but we did not wish to disturb the Swan family any further and the two at a time plan was abandoned. In the end Graham led a quick attempt to keep the bank and paddle down swiftly. The scouts were a bit like rubber ducks in a bath bumping into each other and Mr Swan didn’t know what to do as the Scouts passed his territory. But we did get passed and Mr Swan’s family were all safe, much to Mr Swan’s relief. It did mean a late end to another day.
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 hours in the blazing heat.
We ate well. We had curry, pork chops with ratatouille, fish and chips, patrol cooking (mainly pasta), risotto and stir fry. We were also overwhelmed with cakes. It is a lovely problem to work out how to eat them all.
The Scouts were a pleasure to take away. They enjoyed the activities, the camping and the friendships. They also learnt loads. We are already looking forward to the next camp.