Seven Scouts and one Explorer from Bonnyrigg took part in an Extreme Survival Camp over the weekend 8-10 February.
Five of the group assembled at Currie Wood, across the river from the Midlothian District campsite at Borthwick, on the Friday afternoon. Leaders Peter Hyde from Bonnyrigg and Adrian Marchant from Penicuik were on hand to show the Scouts how to survive the weekend without many of the camping aids which Scouts might take for granted.
Scouts crossing the river to their first night’s campsite
The first task was to build a shelter for the night by stretching a rope between two trees and covering it with a tarpaulin to make it keep those sleeping under it dry all night.
Then the Scouts were shown how to start a fire without matches and they soon learned to gather enough wood to keep it going in order to cook their dinner and keep them warm all evening.
Dinner was squirrel which was supplied by a specialist game dealer. The Scouts were shown how to prepare the squirrel and cook it into a stew with vegetables to make a good evening meal. Fortunately, they managed to achieve this during daylight hours although this meant that the rest of the evening was spent keeping each other’s company around the fire until an early night beckoned.
Saturday morning saw a 6am start with the fire restarted and breakfast underway. Striking camp, the Scouts had to work out how they were going to walk cross country to Saturday night’s campsite on the edge of Fala Moor.
Scouts planning their route from Borthwick to Fala
The Scouts set off in good heart and hiked across farmland for a distance of 4 miles. Permission had been obtained from the farmers en route and at least one helped the Scouts on their way.
Scouts reach the second night’s campsite
Arriving at the edge of Fala Moor the Scouts found that their second night’s campsite was in a forest with plenty of tree cover. This time the Scouts could choose to bivouac under the trees and together they set up camp in the forest.
Three Scouts and Erika joined the group for the Saturday night
Three more Scouts joined the group for the Saturday night. One 10-year old had only been a Scout for three weeks and this was his first camp. Leader Erika Pryde from Bonnyrigg also joined the group for the second night.
Two fires were quickly lit and dinner prepared. On the menu tonight was woodpigeon which was prepared after instruction from the leaders and cooked into a stew with vegetables. S’mores followed for dessert and the fire. Scouts quickly learn that a spoon does nearly everything!
Dinner was interrupted by a visit from the District Commissioner who found the 8 young people in good heart and enjoying their survival experience. The Scouts found that this sort of camp is very demanding at times and at other times, especially in the evening, they had to amuse themselves as a lot of time was spent doing nothing. None of this deterred any of the Scouts from enjoying the experience.
Spelling “Scouts” with sticks from the fire
The Scouts all learned essential survival skills over the weekend. They camped outside without tents, used knives to gut and prepared meat for stew, and they learned to light fires without matches. They planned their route across country to wild camp on the Saturday evening.
The weather was kind to the Scouts this year but in past years the camp has taken place in several feet of snow. Who knows what weather next year’s camp might experience? The Scouts learned how to keep warm and dry and also the importance of gathering sufficient wood to keep a fire burning. Water is a precious commodity which had to be collected and used sparingly.
The Scouts learnt a lot and were encouraged to think outside the box. Information came thick and fast and the Scouts were encouraged to bring a small note book and pen for the day when they find themselves teaching these skills to other Scouts. Peter still has his notebook from his survival skills training and he still refers to it regularly.
Big thanks go to Peter Hyde for organising the event and getting permissions from the landowners involved. Thanks too to Adrian and Erika for supporting the event and giving eight young people the opportunity to earn their Survival Skills Badge. Photo Credits: Adrian Marchant
Martin Browne, District Commissioner, Midlothian District