Bonaly is Back Buzzing!

Bonaly is Back Buzzing!

Campfires have been burning, marshmallows toasting and lots of happy smiling faces running around (and that’s just the leaders!)

In September, we reopened our grounds so groups could come and enjoy Bonaly while being Covid secure, each group is allocated their own zone and toilet facility.

In October our Yellow phase risk assessments (indoors and outdoors) were approved, meaning we can now have groups of up to 30 including leaders, and we can offer the use of indoor space in the Baronial Hall, The Chalet and Forth Lodge for day visits.

We have already had visits from Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers. They have been pioneering, shelter building, playing wide games, making natural sculptures, taking part in team challenges and building lots of fires.

Halloween saw witches, zombies, vampires and all manner of scary creatures descend on Bonaly and great fun was had by all.

November is looking very busy but there are still some spaces available, if you would like to visit us just email an enquiry to info@bonaly.org.uk or info@sesscouts.org.uk.

It’s great to see Scouting back at Bonaly Scout Centre.

Mark Campbell
Warden
Bonaly Scout Centre

Bonaly is looking for a new ASU Manager to join the Bonaly Leadership Team.

Bonaly is looking for a new ASU Manager to join the Bonaly Leadership Team.

A vibrant Bonaly Active Support Unit (ASU) is absolutely vital to the success and sustainability of Bonaly Scout Centre (BSC) and we are looking for the right person to take on the leadership of what will be an extended ASU.

The vision for Bonaly as a Scout focussed centre requires a strong volunteer base to work on a range of areas such as facilities, finance and admin, communications and activities and as such the new ASU Manager will play a critical part in the future success of Bonaly Scout Centre.

As part of the Bonaly Leadership Team the ASU Manager will be responsible for recruiting new ASU members as well as supporting and leading the ASU to ensure that Bonaly through the Warden, Deputy Warden and the ASU can provide the services our Region and other customers are looking for.

This is a key role which will require a significant investment of time and skills to be successful. If you think you can help or just want to find out more please contact Peter Casebow who is leading the Bonaly Leadership Team and to whom this role will report (with a dotted line to the Regional Commissioner). peter.casebow@sesscouts.org.uk 

Getting Back to Bonaly

Getting Back to Bonaly

Bonaly Scout Centre is now open for day visits on Thursday and Friday evenings and all-day at the weekends until the end of November 2020.  To remain COVID Secure your group will be allocated one of four zones in the main field and will have sole use of toilet facilities for the duration of your visit. All relevant COVID guidance and risk assessments should also be adhered to.

Although we cannot offer any of Bonaly’s self-led activities at this time activities which have been popular include:

  • Fire-lighting with outdoor cooking, roasting marshmallows and sausage sizzles
  • Wide games within the COVID secure zones
  • Shelter building
  • Tracking
  • Mark Campbell’s personal favourite – “Naturel Sculpture” which is inspired by the artist Andy Goldsworthy

You may also want to review the socially distanced programme ideas put together by our Scouting Support Officer, Mike Treanor or read about the experiences of groups who have already returned to Bonaly .

Our preferred arrival and departure times are:

Evenings 18:00 – 21:00

Weekends 10:00 -15:00

Leaders can arrive 30 minutes in advance and depart 30 minutes later.

If you have any further questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Our new email address is info@bonaly.org.uk.  Thanks for your support.  We’re all really looking forward to seeing Scouting and Guiding back at Bonaly.

You should be aware that the Regional Executive Committee have now approved the investment in a new waste water treatment plant which is urgently required.  Our contractors will be on site later this year and as a result we will be closed during December 2020 and January 2021.

John Bruce
info@bonaly.org.uk

Bonaly is looking for a new ASU Manager to join the Bonaly Leadership Team.

Bonaly Scout Centre is Back!

We are delighted to announce that our grounds are open for Scouting to meet up – following Scouting guidance for the Yellow phase.

We will be open for evening visits on Thursdays and Fridays 18:00 – 21:00, and for day visits on Saturdays 10:00 – 15:00. Group size will be limited to 30 including leaders with the number of groups also being restricted so we are COVID secure.  

Please note the new email address for enquiries is info@bonaly.org.uk  and that the booking needs to be by email, please don’t phone and due to limited staffing at the moment, a reply may take 48 hours, but we will try and get back to you ASAP.

Thank you to Annette Mackenzie who has set up a fund-raising page for specific projects to improve facilities at Bonaly Scout Centre, via Virgin Money Giving at   https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AnnetteMackenzie1   

It has received support from Councillor Scott Arthur who promoted the initiative on his Facebook page and an anonymous benefactor who donated an amazing £10,000 towards the target.  We would appreciate if members could circulate this more widely to stimulate interest with friends and Leaders who have fond memories of camping at Bonaly.

It’s great to see Scouting back at Bonaly and we highlight below how two

Groups have restarted Scouting at Bonaly.

25th Braid Scouts Return to Bonaly

“Ooh – do we get to use axes?”  Scout aged 11

After 6 months of lockdown, and doing-our-best by zoom, but not (if we’re being really honest) enjoying it, we were all looking forward to some time outdoors as a troop in some wide-open green spaces. So, when Bonaly Scout Centre announced they were ready to open their gates again we were one of the first in the queue.

We booked for the all-day Saturday slot, in order to do some daylight activities in before winter, and settled on a 3-base rotation plan for 18 Scouts with a game at the end.  Planning was not too onerous – Bonaly had COVID-19 site risk assessments and systems already in place so all we had to do to do was plan, risk asses and prep some activities that could be achieved within the Scouting COVID regulations.

“I love whittling. I even love just saying the word whittling. Whitt…er…. ling.”  Scout aged 11.

The obvious first choice for a socially-distanced base was knife skills and whittling. With many of the Scouts now used to keeping a distance from each other, we thought there would be less chance of them invading each other’s blood circles. Our prediction was right and the base went well with only one small plaster being required for the whole day. We reviewed basic knife safety and skills by making pointy marshmallow-toasting sticks and then instructed the Scouts in how to whittle a mushroom out of a thicker stick sourced from the surrounding woods. Many Scouts ignored the creative direction and chose to invent their own artworks- a whittled squid, a submarine, a white stick, and a wooden shaped thing – all creations were beautiful and unique and as long as the scouts were being safe and enjoying sitting on the sun-deck created by the old tepee bases, whittling and chatting, we just let the creativity flow.

“We got to ride on chariots that we’d made from wooden poles. I was like the Duchess of Bonaly being carried around on my chariot!” Scout aged 11

The second base was pioneering. Each Scout had their own stave and string to start with to practise some basic knots and lashings and then they worked together in groups of 2-3 to make chariots. The chariots were large enough that the Scouts could work on their own without getting too close to each other and the older (12-plus) Scouts were spread out appropriately. And they did indeed carry each other proudly around the field like Dukes and Duchesses in a manner that would have made even the original residents of Bonaly Tower proud.

“Ooh – do we get to use axes?”  Scout aged 11

After 6 months of lockdown, and doing-our-best by zoom, but not (if we’re being really honest) enjoying it, we were all looking forward to some time outdoors as a troop in some wide-open green spaces. So, when Bonaly Scout Centre announced they were ready to open their gates again we were one of the first in the queue.

We booked for the all-day Saturday slot, in order to do some daylight activities in before winter, and settled on a 3-base rotation plan for 18 Scouts with a game at the end.  Planning was not too onerous – Bonaly had COVID-19 site risk assessments and systems already in place so all we had to do to do was plan, risk asses and prep some activities that could be achieved within the Scouting COVID regulations.

“I love whittling. I even love just saying the word whittling. Whitt…er…. ling.”  Scout aged 11.

The obvious first choice for a socially-distanced base was knife skills and whittling. With many of the Scouts now used to keeping a distance from each other, we thought there would be less chance of them invading each other’s blood circles. Our prediction was right and the base went well with only one small plaster being required for the whole day. We reviewed basic knife safety and skills by making pointy marshmallow-toasting sticks and then instructed the Scouts in how to whittle a mushroom out of a thicker stick sourced from the surrounding woods. Many Scouts ignored the creative direction and chose to invent their own artworks- a whittled squid, a submarine, a white stick, and a wooden shaped thing – all creations were beautiful and unique and as long as the scouts were being safe and enjoying sitting on the sun-deck created by the old tepee bases, whittling and chatting, we just let the creativity flow.

“We got to ride on chariots that we’d made from wooden poles. I was like the Duchess of Bonaly being carried around on my chariot!” Scout aged 11

The second base was pioneering. Each Scout had their own stave and string to start with to practise some basic knots and lashings and then they worked together in groups of 2-3 to make chariots. The chariots were large enough that the Scouts could work on their own without getting too close to each other and the older (12-plus) Scouts were spread out appropriately. And they did indeed carry each other proudly around the field like Dukes and Duchesses in a manner that would have made even the original residents of Bonaly Tower proud.

I lit my first fire with a striker.  I should have brought my phone to take a photo of it!” Scout aged 12

And because a day at a Scout centre is not complete without a toasted marshmallow or three – the third base was obviously campfire cooking. We used 3 alter fires for each group of 6 Scouts so they could spread out and get lots of practise. We learnt about using natural resources to start fires and found some in the woods but then delighted in the help of cotton wool and vaseline to allow rapid striker success. We cooked calzone pizzas using ingredients that required no leader hands-on-prep and could be cooked individually wrapped in tinfoil in the embers. Smores were achieved using chocolate digestives rather than chocolate pieces to ensure less food handling and even the middle-aisle Gods were shining on us as Aldi had vegetarian marshmallows that week!

“I loved that game. Can we play it for longer next time?” Scout aged 12. 

At the end of the day we all came together (but kept apart) for a game of pop-the-balloon with social-distancing ensured by using extra-long pieces of string.  A bit of riotousness and group fun (and the usual leader cheating I think!) to end the day.

“I really like Scouts….. So far.” New Scout aged 10 ½.

By necessity to put our safety first, compared to previous trips to Bonaly, the day definitely felt a bit odd.  I really missed having the noise and bustle of other groups sharing the site, or the ease of being able to show Scouts hands-on how to use a bushcraft knife or a striker. But for young people in particular, lockdown has been tough. They have been distanced from things that are vital to their childhood and their wellbeing and things they have a right to – like fun, play, nature, connectedness, the great outdoors and big green spaces. On Saturday, Bonaly Scout Centre gave us all these things back again for a bit and, while still putting our safety first, allowed us to appreciate some of the things we loved, and took for granted, about our ‘old normal’.

Thank you Bonaly for a truly grand day out. We will definitely be back and are already looking forward to our next visit!

“Oh wow- smell that fire. I have really missed the smell of campfires”. Scout leader, age undisclosed

Nikki Maclean
Scout Leader 25th Braid
nmaclean@25thbraid.org.uk 

108th Pentland – Bonaly Returns

The COVID-19 lockdown hit us all in so many different ways in our personal and business life. But the introduction of Zoom meetings for the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts in our group helped to keep the momentum of scouting going and helped raise the awareness of scouting in the minds of the parents as well as the young people. Despite being able to deliver part of the balanced programme over Zoom, the opening up of scouting into Amber was greatly appreciated by the amazing leadership team, who immediately set about organising a programme around small groups of young people outside. However, the two Friday scout troops need somewhere other than outside the scout hall to gather to ensure social distancing and keeping the arrival and departure safe for all.

No other places seemed appropriate then Bonaly Scout Centre came in a saviour and announced that they were re-opening. We were delighted to be able to book six Friday night slots in a row, with the first one actually on the Friday evening before the official opening on Saturday 12th September, shhh, don’t tell anyone! The staff at Bonaly couldn’t have been more helpful and Mark Campbell was there to greet us on the Friday evening and make sure we had all we needed.

The bushcraft area was perfect for our needs for the night that included knife work and fire lighting. The areas set aside allowed social distancing for the older scouts and the leaders, whilst still being able to see the leaders demonstrate what was needed. Everyone had a great time; everyone lit a small fire and there was no need to bring out the first aid kit either. When we gathered all the small fires together for a bigger fire, we all then realised that what we were really missing is the camping and sitting round the campfire as it slowly decays.

It is absolutely fantastic to have Bonaly back open again even if it only just for evening and daytime activities for just now. I hope all the groups in South East Scotland will take the opportunity to use these facilities as often as possible.

“Welcome Back Bonaly, thanks for still being there”

Simon Innes
Group Scout Leader
108th Pentland

Encouraging Moving on From Scouts to Explorers

Links Between Scout Troop & Explorer Scout Unit

 

The aim is for all Scouts to become Explorer Scouts. The Scout Leader (SL) and Explorer Scout Leader (ESL) will, with the support of the Group Scout Leader (GSL) and District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC), or their representatives, ensure that effective transfer of Members takes place in a timely manner.

Every year the SL will provide details of Scouts aged 13 and over to the ESL and to the District Explorer Scout Administrator (DESA).

Encouraging Moving on From Scouts to Explorers – An Important Update

 

Recent surveys and discussions with Explorers at District and Regional level have given a good insight into the transition process. The dropout level between Scouts and Explorers is much higher than between the younger Sections. The SL and ESL should consider the following and develop co-ordinated programmes and communication relevant to their members to increase retention:

Factors preventing Scouts from moving on to Explorers:

  • Lack of information about Explorers.
  • Fear of the unknown – moving out of their comfort zone.
  • Moving on is not promoted by Scout Leaders.
  • Scouts leave before completing their time there (14) because:
    • They have nothing to look forward to (lack of information).
    • There is no special consideration given to the older group in Scouts.
    • The programme is repeating for the benefit of the younger group.
    • They feel disengaged.
    • Their own cohort leaves or ages out.
    • They do not know enough people outside their own troop.

What might help
Scouts meet Explorers on a number of occasions, including information sessions.

  • Scouts meet Explorers on a number of occasions, including information sessions
    • The people making contact should be engaging and passionate about Explorers.
  • There are joint events involving older Scouts and Explorers:
    • Taster sessions.
    • Explorer participation in District (Scout) camps.
    • Ensure that older Scouts keep in touch with friends who have moved up.
    • Scouts know people who have joined Explorers.
    • Scouts know who else will be joining – “The more people you know the more likely you will join.”

What the ESL, SL and Explorer Scout Leader – Young Leaders (ESL-YL) can do:

  • Leaders should celebrate moving on.
  • Scout leaders should not regard this as ‘losing their Scouts’.
  • Scout leaders should engage fully with District and local Explorer Unit(s).
  • Scout and Explorer Scout Leaders should plan their programmes actively to promote transition.
  • Leaders should encourage ESYLs on placement at the Scout Troop to talk about Explorers and possibly “buddy up” with Scouts during their early weeks in Explorers.
  • All leaders should know about the Chief Scout’s Award and include it in the programme.
  • Scout Leaders should inform Scouts that they can complete the Chief Scout’s Gold Award in Explorers, and Explorer Leaders should know and support this.


Specific recommendations

  • Scouts are more likely to transfer if they move with their friends and those in the same school cohort/year (typically S2), so we should do everything possible to inform and encourage the cohort to consider transitioning together, rather than basing it on specific age.  There is flexibility and this should be discussed well in advance by the SL and ESL.
  • Don’t delay transfer to allow completion of the CSA Gold Award – this can and should be completed in Explorers and allows them to start Explorers as part of their school cohort [in their S2 year].
  • Make sure Scouts are aware there are Top Awards in Explorers and that the ones relevant for them as new Explorers are the DofE Bronze Award, the linked Platinum Award, and the Young Leader’s Training Scheme.
  • DofE Bronze and the YL Training Scheme are very popular with Explorer Scouts and their parents and usually seen as important opportunities to gain Skills for Life and evidence them in personal statements and applications for college, jobs etc.  We should, therefore, promote these and encourage them to register at the point they transfer, and have support to allow them to get started and engaged with Explorers quickly.

    Include parents in this communication so they are aware of these opportunities. They have an important role to support/encourage younger Explorer Scout to increase their skills in these more self-directed Awards. This has also proven an excellent means to recruit parents as additional adult volunteers.

  • Consider opportunities to provide a taste of Explorer Scouts and to continue and build on achievements in the Scout section, such as:
    • Blair Atholl satellite camp
    • Zodiac Award
    • Activity badges that span the sections – First Aid, Water Activities, Camping

 

Pentland Brass Monkey 2020

Pentland Brass Monkey 2020

At the start of February, Bonaly played host to the annual Pentland Brass Monkey camp which was attended by 240 Scouts and 80 adults. This year’s event saw troops from West and East Lothian taking part for the first time, as well as the usual suspects from Pentland.

Strong winds were the first challenge on the Drum Field for the participants as tents were hastily erected after arrival on the Saturday. All four subcamps managed to succeed without any tents becoming airborne.

After a welcome meeting at the campfire circle, all the Scouts took part in Saturday afternoons “International Themed” activities. This consisted of teams of 3 or 4 attempting to complete 36 activity bases to earn points. Activities included dizzy football, giant chopsticks, mine sweeper and hoop horns. The winning team was Japan from the 100th Pentland.

After a sing song at the campfire and a filling roast beef dinner it was time for the evening activities such as a very muddy game of four-way football, a hectic ‘minute to win it’ competition, a challenging Simba’s game and a captivating game of sit-down bingo.

In the morning after a wet night, with all the not so dry tents packed away and a hot filling breakfast it was time to head up to Bonaly Country Park for a selection of wide games. Despite the miserable weather spirits were still high and it was brilliant to see everyone taking part in the activities. Once they were over it was back down to the campfire circle and just as the sun began to shine it was time to close the camp (typical) and everyone headed back down the road to go home and dry off.

Well done to all the Scouts who braved the Scottish February weather and survived the camp. Also, a huge thank you to all the adults who took part in the camp especially the core team of Kirsty, Ross, Stewart and Sue.