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Review 2016-17: Group Scout Leader

Adrian Ducker
Scouting’s progress is both national and local. Membership is up and the movement continues to generate much interest and considerable respect.

Since securing the lease two years ago of the Open Space next to our headquarters we have continued to improve the land, this year seeing the installation of our outdoor meeting area in the form of a campfire circle complete with a large fire basket. We thank our local supporters including our hard working councillors for the grant aid.

Group events including participation in the District Camp, the May Fair and the Open Day were successful and much enjoyed by young people, our supporters and the local community – as appropriate!

Group collective achievements include full and successful participation in District and County events, active programmes for all the sections and the Scout Active Support (SAS) unit, and all the other activities detailed in the section reports that follow. I also congratulate all beaver scouts, cub scouts, scouts, explorer and network scouts who have had fun gaining badges and taking part in camps, activities and competitions during the year. Well done to you all!

1st Hinchley Wood is the fourth largest Group in Esher District and the second largest with one section of each age range. The beaver, cub and scout sections remain full with waiting lists. The lack of meeting slots in our joint headquarters prevents more expansion of Group numbers.

All this activity and success does not just happen; it is the result of an enormous amount of hard work by the leaders and assistants who are the backbone of the group, supported by Scout Active Support and backed up by the Group Executive. I would like to express my thanks and I am sure that of all parents to all the volunteer leaders and assistants, past and present, who put so much time and energy into 1st Hinchley Wood.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls normally makes awards to leaders and other adults for their service. This year there’s been a glitch at The Scout Association with none forthcoming, which can only mean that we’ll be reporting on a record number next year!

There have been a number of changes in the Group’s leadership team during the year, with a good number of new appointments as listed in the section reports that follow. We thank those who have left us for their help. We welcome all who have joined our team during the year. This is all excellent but yet more volunteers are needed to take the responsibilities of leadership especially for the older sections. This is a continuing group objective for the year ahead.

Thanks to an excellent leader training programme, there is no pre-requisite in expertise or experience. All leaders undertake to complete their initial leader training within five months of appointment and their full training within five years. They then undergo ongoing training throughout their service, keeping them up to date in such areas as safety, safeguarding and first aid. Those becoming leaders may bypass the considerable waiting lists for membership of the sections for their children.

A continuing challenge for the volunteer leader team is delivering ever more sophisticated programmes requiring specialised training and qualifications such as archery, shooting and water and mountain-based activities. It is good to report that many of our leaders and instructors have undertaken training in specialist areas such as mountain walking, advanced first aid, shooting, archery, water activities as well as their mainstream Scout adult leader training.

Our water activities team is strengthened by the addition of explorers joining the coaching team. It is fantastic to see young people making use of the knowledge and experience gained through Scouting by putting something back into the movement.

Richard Beaney, our Group Quartermaster, continues to make a very positive contribution. With the ever-increasing amount of expensive equipment needed to support our level of activity his methodical and practical approach is much appreciated by the leaders. He is steadily continuing to improve our storage facilities with new racking to increase the effective space and make it easier to access the equipment.

Our ‘fleet’ of two minibuses remains unchanged and is much used. We have funding in place and are on the lookout for a replacement for the older, smaller (blue) bus (yes, you’ve heard that before!).

We have purchased additional camping equipment to allow us to equip five scout patrols and the explorers camping simultaneously. We have ordered a replacement large mess tent.

The Chris Platt Activity Centre continues to make a major contribution to the life of the Group. Besides housing the minibuses, canoes and kayaks on their trailer, fair stalls, archery and other equipment, the air rifle range and the climbing/traverse wall have been well used – a real multi-activity building.

As Chairman Andrew has said, ‘many hands make light work’

The Group has been pleased to continue joint initiatives with other local organisations, notably St Christopher’s Church and Girlguiding Hinchley Wood, to promote the community of Hinchley Wood. One very visible result of this is the Hinchley Wood Community Magazine. This magazine, published by the Church and contributed to and sometimes distributed by 1st Hinchley Wood, helps to increase local awareness of just how much goes on in scouting and guiding in Hinchley Wood. Many thanks to Chris Beaney who coordinates our contributions.

Closely supporting the uniformed team is the Group Executive, the lay team whose function is to support the Group in its work. The greatest part of this involves fundraising and our financial report shows just how important the fundraising effort is to our overall income. My thanks go to our Chairman Andrew Sturmer, Secretary Amanda Moylan-Jones, Treasurer Laurence Tanner and all Group Exec members and parents who have helped in this and other vital functions.

The widened parent support base including our parent reps has been a real success story. Well done to everyone involved. Our future objectives are to attract more leaders, to train more in specialist roles and to encourage more parents to get involved in managing the Group and the joint headquarters. As Chairman Andrew has said, ‘many hands make light work’ is very true so please look at the many ways in which you can help. Whilst many of these roles involve evening and weekend participation there are a number which are not time or space dependent and thus practical for those who cannot easily manage to get to the HQ. Parent reps will be able to provide more details – as an example Angus Lund, our (and Esher Scout District’s) Orienteering specialist to great effect, took over and upgraded the Group Website during the year – many thanks to Angus.

We hope you enjoy this Annual Review. I am grateful to all the contributors and to Peter Hanna for their help in producing this year’s edition.

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Next: Beavers

Review 2016-17: Beavers

Ian Broderick

Who would be a beaver leader?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to exhaust, enthral, entertain, expose to new skills and improve the self-confidence of a small child for a few hours every week. You have to think of a new activity every week. It must be fun and have a tenuous link to the badges that will be awarded at the end of the term. It sounds like Mission Impossible but with a dedicated beaver leader team at 1st Hinchley Wood we think we’ve achieved it ……again!

24 exhausted beavers returned to their parents after the adventure course at Walton Firs, a tennis taster session at Court Care Centre, football games with Gareth from Chelsea FC community outreach programme. All this on top of our weekly regular “burn some energy” games like knights and dragons, run around, ladders and jump the river.

The beavers were enthralled by the insects found at our pond dipping session at Esher Common and the new residents colonising the bug hotel they built in the green space at HQ.

They were entertained and enthralled by our visitors this year, including a Royal Marines veteran talking about Remembrance celebrations, a Gold medal winner from the junior Paralympics who brought his medal for the beavers to see and touch (Souleyman Bah, 100m, visual impairment) and a lady discussing self confidence issues for young people. We had a great welcome from the RNLI at Teddington and got to sit in their boats and try on their kit while learning about water safety.

Scouting gives young people the opportunity to take part in a huge range of activities and see if they like it – without buying all the kit. Beavers tried fencing for the first time, with others getting a chance to try tennis or ride a bicycle. Who knows what interests this will spark?

A little bit of education was slipped in with the beavers learning all about carbon dioxide and some first aid training from St John’s Ambulance.

For me the highlights of the year were our air activities badge evening on which we built planes out of cardboard boxes and held “Wacky Races“ -style competitions in the HQ. The beavers had a fantastic time and really entered into the spirit of the game. We also took them on a hike to the pound shop in Surbiton. Each had £3 to buy three presents for three special people in their lives. It was very interesting to see the care and thought that went into choosing the presents – and the recipients.

1st Hinchley Wood Beavers won the District Cross Country Run (defeating The Dittons – winners for the previous 11 years). In June they took their favourite tepee to Walton Firs for the District Camp and had a super time with the rest of the Group.

All of the above meant that the following badges could be awarded: Teamwork Challenge, Adventure Challenge, Discovery Challenge, Skills Challenge and Outdoor Challenge, along with the Cyclist, Hobby, Air Activities, Global Issues, Sport, Camp Craft, Emergency Aid and Hikes Away Badges.

Four Beavers achieved their Chief Scout Bronze Awards. Magnificent effort!!

I’ve probably missed out as many activities as I’ve listed but I was told to keep this short. None of this could have occurred without the leaders and volunteers to help make it possible . Thanks to the Beaver Leader team of Heidi Smith, Samantha Emmerson, Wendy Vincze, our new parent rep Emma Willson, not forgetting the weekly parent helpers and also Colony Administrator Sarah Chan.

Previous: Group Scout Leader’s Review
Next: Cubs

Review 2016-17: Cubs

Phil Cooper
The cubs had an action packed year which started off with a memorable trip to Brownsea Island in June as part of our Cubs 100 celebrations, marking 100 years since Baden Powell introduced the Cub Section. 35 cubs, leaders and parents travelled to Poole and back by train and the cubs carried all their own kit to and from the island, which was an impressive feat. Activities on the island included low ropes, team building challenges, a visit to the Scout Stone, a campfire as well as a walk in search of the timid and beautiful red squirrels. The older cubs were lucky enough to camp for the night on the same campsite that Lord Baden Powell used for the first ever Scout camp in 1907. On the way back home we stopped off at the RNLI lifeboat HQ in Poole and to hear a talk about the work of the RNLI.

At the end of June we took part in the Esher District Group Camp at Walton Firs which included a Guinness World Record attempt! Our cubs, along with the other District Cub Packs (and ably organised by the Dittons) successfully created the largest ever human World Scout Membership badge, consisting of over 300 cubs. The Cubs 100 celebrations concluded in October with a District Centenary Celebration at Polyapes which included a day of fun activities, as well as the unveiling of a purpose built totem pole.

Other highlights included two sponsored events to raise funds for the Scout Association’s Promise Path Appeal and Children in Need. For the Promise Path Appeal, the cubs completed a series of sponsored PE exercises in the Scout HQ and in the process raised £290 for the Scout Association to help disadvantaged communities with vital grants.

The cubs also particularly loved the visit by the Reptile Man in November, who brought in a selection of creatures, from lizards, to giant tortoises and even an albino Burmese python! It was an opportunity to see, and in some cases hold, reptiles that they would never normally have the chance to experience first-hand.

Not to mention all the other activities completed this year, which included: a day hike, St George’s Day Parade, building bivouacs, swimming, rounders, backwoods cooking, road safety, mosaic making, climbing, pioneering, Remembrance Sunday, entertainment badge, making crackers, a visit to AirHop, ‘Highland Games’, a visit from a dentist (our very own Ian Broderick), taking part in the District Cross Country on Oxshott Heath (coming 3rd overall with 4 cubs in the top 20: Oliver Peyton, Thomas Fleming, Harry Emmerson and Ben Cooper), making pancakes, understanding religious festivals, making sweets and lots of teamwork challenges.

Cub Pack Highlights

  • Weekend trip to Brownsea Island
  • Guinness World Record for the largest human World Scout Membership badge
  • Camping at Walton Firs
  • Fundraising for two good causes
  • Reptile evening

The highest award that can be earned as a cub is the Chief Scout’s Silver Award which was gained this year by George Sturmer, Joe Moylan-Jones, Henry Bhamra, Ethan Peebles, William Blunden, Jack Branney, Max Higgins, Rae Cruickshank and Rhys Jones. Congratulations to all.

The cub leadership team said ‘goodbye and thank you’ to Emma Kingsley and Leala Padmanabhan and welcomed David Cruickshank and Deepa Solanki to join the team of Debs Beaney, Chris Beaney, Phil Cooper, Alex Higgins, Paul Rayner and Theresa Platt. We wish to thank everyone who has helped us, in any way, to provide such a varied programme. We hope you have found it a fun and very rewarding experience. With your continued support we can keep offering a challenging, fun programme of the highest standard.

The cub leadership team would particularly like to thank parent reps Nicole Murray, Dionne Baker and Anna McKenna for all their amazing help and support, and also Rachel Branney who stepped down as parent rep and who did such a wonderful job for the cubs over several years.

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Next: Scouts

Review 2016-17: Scouts

Adrian Ducker

The Scouts have had another exciting year. Here’s a sampler of troop night activities over the past 12 months: pioneering, visiting Esher Fire Station, canoeing and kayaking on the River Thames and elsewhere, swimming at New Malden, jumble collecting, archery, swimming activity badges at Hampton outdoor pool, rafting at Bowers Lock (River Wey), orienteering around Hinchley Wood streets, camp skills, Guy making (followed by a Guy Fawkes bonfire & fireworks), orienteering at Ham Lands, shooting, scavenger hunts, a ‘Scottish Evening’, Ready Steady Cook night, a Day Hike at night, night hikes, a visit from the Air Ambulance, Airhop at Guildford and pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.

And that’s not all. Visits were made to the dry ski slope at Sandown and to Top Golf at Addlestone. A busy evening was spent at Polyapes Campsite clearing scrub, brambles, nettles and moving the woodpile back to where it should have been to improve the site and work toward the outdoor challenge. We enjoyed an exhilarating June evening cable boarding at JB Waterski. In December, we re-enacted the WW2 Operation Claymore (‘shipping’ on Black Pond was located and destroyed!) and visited the outdoor ice rink at Hampton Court Palace. Much use has been made of the shooting and climbing wall facilities in the Chris Platt Centre, including for the District Postal Shooting Competition.

In addition, we held training and badge nights – map and compass, knots and lashings, first aid (everyone resuscitated Annie!). As a result many scouts attained the various challenge badges and emergency aid, swimming, fire safety and other activity badges.

Stewart Ashwell, Sebastian Collins, Matthew Nair and Thomas Sturmer attended a County Presentation to receive their Chief Scout’s Gold Award Certificates.

The year saw a large increase in participation in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Whilst primarily aimed at the Explorer Scout age range older Scouts have needed very little encouragement to sign up as soon as they are eligible and are enjoying ‘DofE’ activities from volunteering to expeditions.

The troop offers opportunities to try new activities that members might not even think of doing until someone says ‘you’ve not tried it, why not give it a go?’ The fishing competition is a good example; orienteering is another.

Hinchley Wood Scouts took part in the Esher Scouts Orienteering Club (ESOC) team in the Southern Navigators Junior League Orienteering on Saturday mornings last winter. Largely thanks to Angus Lund’s leadership Esher Scouts won the Junior League and Idris Wills and William Emmerson were 1st & 2nd placed in the year 6&7 individual results. Orienteering is a very inclusive sport, everyone is welcome at whatever level they take part and it is an excellent way of gaining navigational skills.

We have had a busy year not only with our troop nights but with District and County activities too.

Here are the results of the District & County activities in 2016-17:

May 2016 County Expedition Green
June Archery Comp First
September Fishing Comp Second
October Cooking Comp Fourth
October Night Hike First
November Five-A-Side Plate (runners up)
Year 2016 Top Troop Trophy First
February 2017 Scouting Skills & First Aid Third
February Cross Country Seventh
March Shooting Comp No competition
March Day Hike First

For the seventh year running we won the coveted Esher District Top Troop Trophy.

Golden woggles were gained by Nisan Kotik, Matthew Nair and Callum Smith. These are awarded to leaders of competition winning teams.

Very well done to the many Scouts who supported District events.

This year (as the Cubs were off to Brownsea Island) the Troop held its own Spring Camp at Broadstone Warren in Sussex. Twenty-six scouts in four patrols spent Saturday enjoying sessions of archery, low ropes and an off-site mountain biking excursion. After all that the younger scouts practised their camp skills by cooking their evening meal whilst the older scouts carried out a survival exercise. Several younger scouts made & slept in bivvys too! Next day it was Operation Locate Gold – an all-day off-site exercise involving navigation, hiking and some water based treasure hunting in canoes & kayaks.

Later we had wide games. In between all this camp skills were practised to gain the outdoor challenge badge. On Monday everything got packed away in time for Cube course climbing sessions.

The troop, with the rest of the Group, headed up to Walton Firs in June to join the all-District Camp. With all the massive attractions ranging from circus skills to giant table football to a huge firework display we had a super time in great company.

After last year’s trip to Snowdonia, it was off to Scotland for Summer Camp. The site at Achnacloich near Oban is set on the shore of Loch Etive with superb views of the hills around about. The site, as usual for a Summer Camp, was totally ‘green field’ (ie no facilities!).

The campers, 23 scouts in 4 patrols and 9 explorer scouts had a great time. Highlights of the camp were climbing Ben Nevis, building bivouacs and spending nights in them, kayaking & canoeing on Loch Etive and coasteering at Ganavan.

Everyone went ‘overseas’; the explorers and older scouts went on overnight DofE expeditions on the island of Mull, whilst the younger scouts got very wet on their day hillwalk on Mull. We went sea fishing out on the Firth of Lorne on a glorious sunny afternoon and came back with plenty of mackerel which we cooked for our ‘last supper’.

On the last full day of camp we all climbed Ben Nevis, having a snowball fight but sadly no view from the summit. Dinner that night was the traditional fish & chips, in a car park in Fort William. We broke the homeward journey with a stay at Greenhead Youth Hostel and a visit to Hadrian’s Wall.

Paddlesport activities are an ever-popular part of scouting at Hinchley Wood and our fleet of kayaks and open canoes were well used. Besides river sessions on summer evenings, we had swimming pool sessions at Guildford Lido which were ideal for practising in comfort those ‘wet strokes’ that are meant to help keep you dry, but so often result in capsizing.

Rounding off the river and pool sessions, we ran our paddling weekend on the River Wye at Symonds Yat. Several scouts gained their One Star awards and others are working on Two and Three Star.

This year troop numbers have remained high (with a waiting list) which means a good deal of work for our enthusiastic and dedicated Troop leadership team. We welcomed Debbie Shaw and Aisha Solanki to join the established team of Jeff Almond, Adrian Ducker, Peter Hanna, Harvey Panesar, Tom Sharman and Gill Wills.

Adrian Ducker has been very grateful for the considerable support from them and also from Chris Beaney, John Daoud, Fiona Smales and other group leaders and parents, headed up by our parent reps, without whom the level of activities could not have been maintained. An especially big thank you goes to all those who have helped over the year.

Additional regular help is always needed – four leaders at every meeting is the minimum to run an active programme for a troop of 30-plus scouts.

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Next: Explorers

Review 2016-17: Explorers

John Daoud

Explorers are young people aged 14+ to 18 years old. Throughout the year the explorer unit have taken part in a diverse range of activities.

In the spring the explorers took part in fencing, scuba diving run by the Kingston British Sub Aqua Club at New Malden swimming pool. They had a fencing lesson run by Joe Shackell of the Kingston Fencing club. Cycle-borne paramedic Samuel Crompton Brook, alumni HW explorer himself, turned up with tons of lifesaving kit and gave the explorers an insight into his job and some lessons in first aid.

In the summer the explorers were to be found getting relief from their academic studies by rock climbing in Tolworth and kayaking in Guildford, practising their skills at Guildford Lido.

Nine explorers went up to Scotland and enjoyed everything the West Highlands have to offer. Many ‘DofE’ expeditions took part on the Isle of Mull, truly suitable remote country for getting away from it all! Another ‘first’ for the unit was a day on the ‘Via Ferrata’ – literally ‘Iron Way’ – rock faces fitted up with wire ropes, ladders etc with huge overhangs, waterfalls to negotiate and drops!

All explorers are enrolled in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and this year five have completed their Bronze and nine their Silver Awards. They are also working on the Chief Scouts Platinum and Diamond Awards. These are aligned with the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze & Silver Awards, so members have the bonus of being able to collect ‘DofE’ awards on their way to the Scouting awards. The Unit is dedicated to helping our explorer scouts to achieve these and then aim towards the coveted Queens Scout Award (and Gold ‘DofE’). We now have the record number of 11 explorer and network scouts working towards their Gold Duke of Edinburgh award.

Unit members have taken part in a full range of District activities, here are the results:

June 2016 Raftless Race Second
September Fishing Comp First
October Shooting Comp Third
November Cooking Comp First =
Five-A-Side No competition
December Games Comp Fourth
Year 2016 Scope Trophy Second
February 2017 Cross Country No Entry
March Shooting Comp No Competition

September comes and we are canoeing and kayaking on moving water on the river Wye in Wales by Symonds Yat. Later in autumn we helped run the troop’s bonfire night and took part in the District shooting competition. In December the unit invited ex-members to join them for the unit Christmas social catered for by Peter Hanna at the HQ, turned into a winter wonderland for the one night only. Unit members and older scouts run the Christmas Post not only as a service for the local area but also to raise funds for good causes. This year the proceeds were given to Kent Sussex & Surrey Air Ambulance and helped the explorers working towards the Fundraiser Badge.

Explorers complete Young Leader Module A training, a requirement for Unit members who give service by helping with other Sections. This is important for those who want to complete their DofE volunteering and in addition many have taken a number of the other 11 modules available.

The incorporation of the Duke of Edinburgh Award within the Explorer award scheme has had the spin-off of numbers of experienced explorers keen to do the volunteering section with the younger Sections. The Beaver and Cub Sections in particular have received help from young people (from inside and outside Scouting) giving service for Scout Awards and/or ‘D of E’.

Seven of the explorers took part in the Four Inns Walk, run throughout the Peak District, covering in excess of 40 miles in some very respectable times, even when slowed down by your writer. Another, younger, team won the National (and Esher) trophies for the fastest unaccompanied team completing the 35K event, a truly excellent result.

The 1st Hinchley Wood Explorer Unit is led by John Daoud with some help from other leaders. More leadership is an urgent need for the expanding Unit.

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