Welcome to Lawrence Mitchell, our Regional Advisor, Adventurous Activities

Lawrence MitchellRecently appointed by Margery Naylor, Regional commissioner, I am delighted to be helping within the Region – but daunted as well!

I was in Cubs, Scouts and Senior Scouts in Ayr in my early years. Having married in 1970 and moved to Balerno shortly after that, I was asked to help with one of the 51st Balerno scout troops – and within 3 months found myself leading the troop! Over the years, and with help from other Balerno parents, we built the troop up to 42 (all boys in those days!). The emphasis was always on fun, adventure – and the outdoors, and to keep “ahead” of them, I enrolled in The Mountain Leader Training programme, completing my ML at Glenmore Lodge; then did my Sea Kayaking Coach, and later, Coastal Skipper sailing qualifications.

After 11 years as SL, I “retired”, then found myself as DC for Pentland & Almond Valley and after that, as Area Mountain Advisor. After a further “retirement”, I returned as GSL for the 51st for 6 years, before handing over to John Henderson, who has done a truly wonderful job with the Group.

In the meantime, I had continued as a training advisor and member of the District Appointments Committee and within the last year have accepted the appointment of District Chair for Pentland – and as Regional Advisor for Adventurous Activities.

That may sound a long time – and it is – and my age gives that away!  But I remain committed to the concept that Scouting should be FUN, (for both children and the leaders!) and focused on the Outdoors and on Adventure.

Bruce McDonald, Manager of the Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme, and I shall be working very closely with each other as there is a fair degree of overlap in our roles, but our connection started a long time ago at Longcraig as kayak instructors – and we share the common interest in “adventure”.

I think it would be fair to say that while all adventurous activities are important, my emphasis in the short term will be on Hillwalking. We have the Pentlands on our doorstep and other wonderful hills only a short distance away – we need to get more beavers, cubs, scouts and Explorers out there and beyond! And to achieve we shall be working hard to build up the pool of qualified leaders and assessors. Please do contact me if you have any enquiries: lbmitchell@blueyonder.co.uk

Lawrence Mitchell
Regional Advisor, Adventurous Activities

Bruce Macdonald becomes our Regional Manager of the adventurous activity permit scheme

Bruce MacdonaldI am very pleased to announce that we have strengthened our Regional Leadership Team with two new appointments for adventurous activities – Bruce Macdonald as the Manager of the Activities Permit Scheme (MAPS). He joins Lawrence Mitchell who is our Regional Advisor for Adventurous Activities.  They will be working together to support our team of Regional Activity Assessors as well as helping to answer any queries you may have about activities within the Region.

We are very lucky in now having a strong assessor team with 7 people able to advise and assess for all the main adventurous activities, and in hillwalking we have recently appointed some new assessors.  If you have any questions about adventurous activities permits, please contact Bruce at: maps@sesscouts.org.uk

Here is advice from Bruce about permits: “Please remember that the District Commissioner is responsible for approving all activities for young people in their District. In practice this may be achieved by an informal system of communications between leaders and their GSL.

Adventurous activities are covered by the permit scheme and these activities which are listed in POR rule 9.7 include hillwalking, climbing, off-road cycling, water activities etc. To run adventurous activities for young people you must hold a permit or use an approved centre. If you would like to hold a permit then further information can be obtained from: https://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/search/?cat=26,359,366

When applying for a permit, please do not leave it to the last minute – it may be necessary to arrange a formal assessment, and this can take time to set up, although assessors will do their best to meet any deadlines you may have.

If you already have a permit, it will be recorded on Compass – please check when your permit runs out and apply for a renewal in plenty of time.  You should also keep your contact details up to date so that we can contact you about your permit.”

I know that Bruce and Lawrence will be able to help all our leaders run very successful and safe opportunities for young people to have fun and adventure.

Margery Naylor
Regional Commissioner, SE Scotland Scouts

Geocaching Activity Badge

Geocaching Activity Badge

Geocaching Activity BadgeHappy Geocaching day! Geocaching develops navigational skills, connects adventurers from around the world, and it’s the perfect activity for young people going on camp, a hike or an expedition over the summer.

As geocaching involves learning about GPS skills and how GPS works, it’s an engaging way for young people to learn about technology. For loads of fascinating information and a fun video about GPS, take a look at this helpful guidance from NASA.

For those new to geocaching, you’ll soon see that this outdoor activity is similar to a treasure hunt. But instead of treasure, participants seek out caches – small, waterproof containers that contain a logbook. When participants find the cache (based on its GPS coordinates, using a smartphone or GPS receiver) they enter the date and their established code name into the logbook as proof that they’ve found it. The cache is then returned to its spot so future geocachers can find it too. Geocaches are located all over the world, making it a global game of hide and seek.

Here are some ideas to support your young people develop their geocaching skills and work towards their badges.

Beavers – My Adventure Challenge Award

Support your Beavers to develop their interest in geocaching by trying it out together as part of a walk or hike. This could be a fun activity to do when heading out on a woodland walk or exploring a local nature reserve in search of wildlife and birds. All you need to get started is a smartphone and to download a Geocaching app. This could be done for their ramble or nature walk for their My Adventure Challenge Award.

If doing it as part of a journey of two hours or more, your Beavers will also be working towards their Hikes Away Staged Activity Badge.

Cubs – Our Adventure Challenge Award

Your Pack could try Geocaching together, as an outdoor activity or as part of a hike, to work towards their Our Adventure Challenge Award.  Cubs will also be working towards their Hikes Away Staged Activity Badge if they do a hike of three hours or more.

Cubs interested in geocaching might also be interested in developing their tracking skills, while working towards their Our Adventure Challenge Award. Head into the outdoors with your Cubs, where they can leave tracking symbols made from natural materials like sticks and stones to set along a trail for others to find and follow. Download the tracking information sheet over here.

Scouts – Geocaching Activity Badge

The Geocaching Activity Badge gives Scouts the chance to get to grips with the ins and outs of GPS navigation. They’ll discover how it works and how it benefits society as they set out on exciting geocaching adventures of their own, where they can seek caches and hide them too.

For the Geocaching Activity badge, Scouts will need a handheld GPS receiver.  If you don’t have one, ask around other local Groups, or think about purchasing some as a District to share. Alternatively, you can book to do this activity through a Geocaching course through the Activity Badge Programme available at some Scout Adventure Centres.

You can find information on GPS navigation here or on pages 90-93 in the Haynes Outdoor Adventure Manual.

Scouts could also work on this badge over two days as part of their exploration or for their expedition task, for the Expedition Challenge Award.

Remember, young people aged 13 or under need an adult to sign up to a Geocaching website on behalf of their Troop.

Explorer Scouts – Top Awards

Explorer Scouts can work on their geocaching skills on an expedition in pursuit of top awards. They could include geocaching activities on their two-, three- or four-day expedition for their Chief Scout’s Platinum AwardChief Scout’s Diamond Award or Queen’s Scout Award. They’ll show their ability to prepare and follow through to geocaching success, while having fun.


Network members can plan or get involved in an event or project, to gain their Geocaching virtual badge. Here’s some guidance on how to run a Network event or project.

In Touch

In Touch

Are you keeping in touch?

Do you know about the InTouch system?

It is important that there are communication systems in place throughout all Scouting activities, allowing leaders to contact parents/carers and parents/carers to contact leaders. This is done through having an InTouch system in place, a system designed to be flexible and suit the needs of your activity, from a section meeting through to summer camp and trips aboard.

We used to have the Home Contact system, but now that (almost) everyone has mobiles, we can use them to keep in touch with everyone.

The Factsheet FS120075 includes a step-by-step approach guiding you through the process of setting up an InTouch system as well as further guidance on areas and issues to look at within this and suggestions on how these can be managed.

Key questions to ask yourself and your leadership team

  • How will you and the other leaders hold the details of all those taking part in an event, and the contact details of their parents/next of kin, so that they can be accessed as required?
  • What contact details of the leader or leadership team will you give to the parents?
  • What advice or guidelines will be given to parents as to the how to contact the event and when / why communication is expected or appropriate?

Please read the Factsheet to understand how the system works. It really is important to have one in place!

And let’s hope you will never need to contact your Commissioner or their designate in the case of an emergency (as per POR Chapter 7 – Emergency Procedures) at any point during your events.

Margery Naylor, Regional Commissioner, South East Scotland

May at Longcraig

May at Longcraig

May 2018 at Longcraig – Been and Gone!

After the particularly cold, prolonged and snowy winter the first month of Longcraig activity has on average been blessed with spring like weather much of the month. The Met Office people think May 2018 may be the warmest on record (somewhere in deepest England, maybe!) so, although not altogether a scorcher, it was a pretty fine month and a good start to our 2018 season.

Summer opportunities

May and June are typically Longcraig’s busiest period, as it’s summer term for Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies etc so everyone wants to cram their bookings into 8 or 9 short weeks.

But summer remains with us through July and August and into September. Consider how you might be able to make use of the Centre for some activities during the summer period:

  • You could sign up for some training courses, for example.
  • You could arrange a patrol event instead of a troop event. Bookings can be made for as few as 6 people, or talk to us if you have a specific requirement that doesn’t quite fit in.
  • You could consider a parent-and-child opportunity (family activity day) if you wish to.

The opportunities are there, the weather is likely to be a little bit warmer, some of the best days and evenings are in the school holiday period but we remain open and available during that period.

Going away for a summer camp or weekend event? Did you know that suitably qualified leaders / adults can hire (almost) any of the equipment at Longcraig for your own event? Obviously, we would check where you plan to use it, and who with, but our rates are very reasonable and definitely cheaper than hiring commercially! We have trailers available for the bigger stuff, but some items are roof-rack toppable if you don’t do towing.

Explorer Units

Following the success of the partnership with the Explorer Unit who have been supporting Longcraig over the winter and subsequently had 11 Explorers participate in a start Sailing course, we invite feedback from other Explorer Units who wish to make water activities and Centre Support a part of their programme. Please contact us for further details of how you can join up and add this to your Unit programme as well as learning new skills, satisfying challenge requirements, and fulfilling service activity all at the same time! Contact Ian on 0131 331 1108 initially.

Push the Boat Out

Try Sailing in May

This year the Royal Yachting Association issued a challenge to all water-sport providers and clubs across the country, as part of a nationwide initiative to encourage more people to participate in water-sports. We at Longcraig took up this challenge and held our Push the Boat Out day in May, but aimed this time at adults and leaders, who often miss out on actually participating in the activities when down with their groups and units. To match the tides on the day, we ran from 2pm through to 6pm and finished off with a barbeque in the evening sunshine. Participants came from all over the Region, many of whom had never sailed or kayaked or paddle-boarded before, getting the opportunity to Have a Go!

James Allan, the RYA Scotland Chief executive, was enthusiastic about supporting our event, and about the specific way in which we had chosen to arrange it. Longcraig was visited by a representative from RYA on the day, as well as members of the Regional Executive.

Hillwalking training update

Hillwalking training update

There has been an excellent response to last month’s announcement of two complementary initiatives to provide training for Hillwalking permits (see original article).

David Newton

David, the DESC for Craigalmond, is going ahead with organising a Regional residential training weekend this Autumn, similar to the successful one he organised for his District last year, to be followed by an assessment weekend with Lochgoilhead staff next Spring. There has been sufficient interest to make this viable and further applications will be welcomed with a deadline of 20 May. He gives details and asks for replies using a survey (please note, this will be live until 20 May).

Davy Virdee

Davy’s project, offering single day and evening modular training courses, is under way.  He gives details of this and invites further applications in a separate article.

DofE and other Expeditions and Terrain Permits

Davy’s article also explains some of the matters to be considered when organising expeditions in the hills – which is most of Scotland!  Bear in mind that you can also contact the Regional Adviser (DofE), John Buchanan, for advice on DofE.