Category Archives: Scouts

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.

The 24th World Scout Jamboree – Here We Come!

Scouting is a movement filled to the brim with life skills and opportunities for young people like myself, and one such opportunity is the International World Scout Jamboree. Last held in Japan four years ago, the World Scout Jamboree unites around 40,000 scouts and leaders, hence creating a magnificent event that thrives with almost all cultures and personalities. From the snowy summits of Alaska and the sandy shores of Australia to the soaking streets of Surrey, scouts will gather at the 24th World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia in the summer of 2019 – all the countries seen below in purple will be represented.

However, only a select few lucky individuals from every country have the chance to attend, as they must first endure the vigorous selection process.

Tom Branney, Sonny Cruikshank and I (with Ilan Kotik as 1st reserve) were the ones eventually selected to go to North America – but only after we filled in a detailed application. After writing the perfect final paragraph on why we were ‘the best scouts ever’, we continued onto a long interview, held in front of a board of around six leaders and people in high scouting positions, where we were grilled (like sausages on the sizzle) with tough questions such as, “Why do you want to go…?” (Come on, nobody knows the answer to that!)

We finally emerged from the building, our cheeks sore from smiling and backs aching from maintaining perfect posture; clutching in our hand a sheet of paper… that informed us of a two day selection camp. I thought the interview was bad enough.

Esher District Selection Camp October 2017
Hinchley Wood team on the far Left
At the camp, tension filled the air as we all suddenly became ‘perfect’ scouts, asking if we could help, displaying fabulous leadership and being really, really nice. All the while in silent competition with our peers, and constantly under the eye of the leaders, evaluating how nice and how bossy we were. Over the course of two whole days we did a range of activities from team building exercises and pioneering to presentations.

We were each of us awarded a place out of a total of nine given to the Esher Scout district. Hinchley Wood took up a third of all places because we are obviously the ‘best scout troop ever’. A few of our fellow scouts were unsuccessful and this is a great disappointment as every person who applied truly deserved a spot and it is a great shame that there weren’t more spaces. But in one way they are the lucky ones, because they don’t have to fundraise thousands of pounds to pay for their places! Although we do have our units and our scout groups to help us fundraise by holding events, packing shopping bags in local shopping centres and doing group jobs like car washing, most will be done alone to raise funds with small acts such as gardening, sponsored activities and selling cakes and donuts. So if you see us please be generous!

After we got the news that we had been chosen we were then given our unit numbers, my unit is #64. Units are mixed groups of 32 Scouts, Ajax Sea Scouts and boys and girls from other scout divisions from all across Surrey, ensuring we are forming new friendships within the group and meeting new people from the wider area. With our different units, we will attend lots of ‘training camps’ teaching us essential knowledge about the Jamboree, to allow us to bond and to practice skills like putting up tents with millimetre precision.

The World Scout Jamboree offers a brand new experience for every person that is there, and opens their eyes to a myriad of different cultures and people from countless countries from six different continents. An opportunity like this is literally once-in-a-life-time. Everyone who got chosen is, I’m sure, hugely grateful and excited; and the work and commitment that goes into getting there will be well worth it.

“The 24th World Scout Jamboree” – here we come!

by Will Cruddas