In February a contingent made up of 62 Cubs, Scouts, Explorers, Network and Leaders from 4th Braid, 103rd Braid and Greenbank Explorers embarked on a ski trip to Les Menuires in France.
With a very early morning flight, we met at 3am at one of our halls, and although we could have asked parents to drop off young people directly at Edinburgh Airport, we found it much easier being able to ensure we had everyone and all their kit at the hall and organise everyone into groups before arriving at the busy airport. We had asked everyone to come to the hall early the previous evening and collected luggage, passports & EHIC cards. Sorting these into travel groups made the morning as easy as possible.
We travelled through the airports in small groups each supervised by different leaders. After some breakfast at the airport, we departed for Geneva. On arriving in Geneva, we were met by a large very comfortable coach for the journey to the Alps, with a meal stop at a very busy McDonalds en-route. The excitement was building up as the bus left the main road for the steep uphill last leg of the journey, gradually more and more snow coming into view and eventually the first sign of skiers. Many of our group had never been a ski resort abroad before so were quite taken with the sight of large snow-covered mountains in fantastic sunshine.
The benefit of an early morning flight was that we arrived in the resort while it was still daylight and after allocating everyone to rooms, had plenty time to explore the area around our hotel and get fitted with our ski equipment before dinner.
Having had a very early start that morning, we had a ski safety briefing before an early night. After a buffet breakfast on Sunday morning we all met the instructors who would be leading our ski lessons for the week. We had provisionally allocated all the young people to groups and this helped to get the first lessons going quickly. We had a mix of experience with few people who had never skied before ranging up to those who had done lots of skiing abroad.
We are very grateful for the support we received from the William Lyburn Fund as this allowed us to pay for one more instructor than we would otherwise have been allocated. This meant the lessons groups were smaller, particularly for the less experienced groups and enabled there to be movement between the groups as different young people progressed at different levels. There is no doubt that everyone’s trip was enhanced by this. With 17 adults on the trip we were able to have at least one adult supporting the ski instructor on the lessons and again this helped the young people get the most out of the trip, as well as being fantastic fun for the adults and enabling everyone, adults and young people to improve their skiing.
Our ski lessons were 9-11 and 1-3, and we had enough adults with Scout Association ski leader permits to supervise those young people who wanted to continue skiing after lessons and most young people did more skiing. A benefit of adults skiing with the lessons was that they could see the routes the scouts were skiing in the lessons and choose similar routes when supervising out-with lessons. While a few of our adults had skid the area before and were familiar with routes, others not in lessons had time to check out routes in advance of supervising groups.
We had varied weather over the course of the week with fantastic sunshine on our first skiing day giving everyone a fabulous introduction to the trip. Over the course of the week we experienced strong winds, fresh powder snow, snow blizzards but mainly wonderful sunshine and great skiing conditions.
Les Menuires is part of the three valleys, the largest linked ski area in the world and we were fortunate to have negotiated three valleys ski passes which meant that the young people were able to ski out of Les Menuires and into both Val Thorens and Meribel as part of their lessons.
Six of our more experienced Explorers had been assessed for individual skiing activity permits ahead of the trip and therefore after an initial familiarisation session on Sunday afternoon were able to ski out-with lessons in their group without an adult.
Courchevel which has some fantastic ski slopes was a bit too far to get to and back in normal ski lesson but on Friday one of the ski instructors took our most experienced group of skiers along with a couple of adult ski leaders most of the way there and we had time to ski some of the best runs there before heading back to Les Menuires in time for afternoon lessons.
We were very fortunate that our hotel was right on the slopes, which meant that those not wanting to ski after lessons could go back to the hotel to be supervised by our non-skiing adults. Each evening we had at least one activity planned, sometimes jointly for Scouts and Explorers and sometime separately.
After six amazing days of skiing it was time to head home. We had another very early start with a 4am wake up and after a smooth journey were back home in Edinburgh at lunchtime. Sometimes when you are in the middle of a trip it is difficult to judge properly how well it is going, however on this trip I was confident from start to finish that the young people and adults were having an amazing time. This was only reinforced by the feedback we got after the trip.
“Fantastic time, best holiday ever”
“Memories for the rest of our lives”
We would like to thank the William Lyburn fund for the grant we received. Knowing we had received the grant gave us an important contingency fund against unexpected events. In the end we used the grant specifically to pay for an extra ski instructor which greatly enhanced to overall trip for the young people who took part.
Our group getting their awards after their last ski lesson