Review 2017-18: 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), camp skills, Guy making (followed by a Guy Fawkes bonfire & fireworks), orienteering at a very wet Cannizaro Park, shooting, scavenger hunts, ‘It’s a Knockout’, Ready Steady Cook night, a Day Hike at night, night hikes, Skywalk at Sandown and pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.

And that’s not all. We went Climbing at Surrey University and Bowling at Spectrum. 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 July evening cable boarding at JB Waterski. In December, we re- enacted the WW2 Operation Stalag Luft (with lots of ‘escaping’ on Oxshott Heath!) 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 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.

Callum Smith & Nisan Kotik were invited to attended a County Presentation to receive their Chief Scout’s Gold Award Certificates.

The year saw continued 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. William Emmerson was 1st placed in the year 8&9 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 2017-18:

Month Event Position
June 2017 Archery Competition Second
September Fishing Competition First
October Cooking Competition Third
October Night Hike First
February 2018 Scouting Skills and First Aid Second
February Shooting Competition First
March Cross Country Snow!
March Day Hike Second

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

Golden woggles were gained by Tom Branney, Sonny Cruickshank & Arvind Panesar. These are awarded to leaders of competition winning teams.

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

Group Camp took place at Walton Firs. Twenty- nine Scouts in five patrols spent Saturday enjoying a day of kayaking/canoeing and swimming off-site. The paddling took place on the River Wey and we paddled through Guildford, stopping to ‘play’ in the weir and behind Spectrum for lunch. On the Sunday the group formed up in teams for on-site activities including adventure course, maze, caving, games, team building and branding. Later we had a camp fire and 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 crate stacking and climbing sessions. We also did zorbing, most for the first time, it was great fun!

After last year’s trip to Scotland, it was off to Cornwall for Summer Camp. The site was at Trolver, a small farm near Truro set above the River Fal with superb views around about. The site, as usual for a Summer Camp, was totally ‘green field’ (ie no facilities!), but we did have a water tap and a small tractor to tow the vehicles in and out during the wet weather which did appear from time to time.

The campers, 29 scouts in 5 patrols and 9 explorer scouts had a great time. Highlights of the camp were mountain biking, surfing, building bivouacs and spending nights in them, kayaking on the Fal and ‘inland coasteering’. It was too rough for coastal coasteering but the alternative in a flooded quarry and involving stand up paddleboarding was great. Older Scouts went on overnight expeditions, whilst younger Scouts completed a day walk on the coast path.

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 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.