Review 2015-16: Scouts

Adrian Ducker

The Scouts have had another exciting year. Here’s a sampler of troop night activities over the past 12 months: pioneering, Airhop at Guildford, 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 Morden Hall Park, shooting, scavenger hunts, survival night, Ready Steady Cook night, a Day Hike at night, night hikes, a ‘flying night’ and pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.

And that’s not all. 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 Musketoon (the Edges were scaled with the aid of ropes and the heavy water plant was suitably 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. Our Jamboree participants entertained us with a presentation on their experiences in Japan.

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 and other activity badges. Special congratulations are due to Stewart Ashwell, Sebastian Collins, Matthew Nair and Thomas Sturmer on gaining the Chief Scout’s Gold Award .

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 2015-16:

May 2015 County Expedition Gold
June Archery Comp Fourth
September Fishing Comp Third
October Cooking Comp First
October Night Hike First
November Five-A-Side Plate (runners up)
Year 2015 Top Troop Trophy First
Year 2015 Postal Shooting Comp First
February 2016 Scouting Skills & First Aid Third
March Shooting Comp First
March Cross Country Seventh
March Day Hike Fourth

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

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

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

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 won the ‘most improved junior’ Trophy. 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.

Twenty Scouts went flying with the Surrey Scout Flying Club at Redhill Aerodrome, a great experience.

Group Camp took place at Walton Firs. Twenty-one Scouts in four 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. Finally we presented 12 Chief Scout’s Gold Award Badges.

After last year’s trip to the Lake District, it was off to Snowdonia for Summer Camp. The site at Nantmor south of Snowdon is set in a gently sloping field with views across the valley. The site, as usual for a summer camp, was totally ‘green field’ (ie no facilities!). The campers, 28 scouts and explorers in six patrols had a great time. The weather was challenging with long periods of rain & wind but the camp spirit stayed high. Camp highlights were sea kayaking, coasteering, building bivouacs and spending nights in them and of course hill walking – everyone got up Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Older scouts went on overnight expeditions, whilst younger scouts completed a day walk on the local very boggy hill!

“For the sixth year running we won the coveted Esher District Top Troop Trophy.”

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.

Whilst this may seem like hard work there is time for fun and games and everyone who has taken part in these courses has enjoyed them. A particularly pleasing aspect is the enthusiasm of those who have already completed awards in helping others gain theirs. Thanks are due to Chris Beaney, John Daoud, John Trott and Emma Beaney.

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. Fabio Randolfi has transferred to Explorers, we said goodbye to both Jon Berg and John Trott and welcomed Gill Wills and Jeff Almond to join the established team of Adrian Ducker, Peter Hanna, Harvey Panesar, and Tom Sharman.

Adrian Ducker has been very grateful for the considerable support from them and also from Fiona Smales, Chris Beaney 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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