Update on Bonaly Scout Centre

Mark Campbell, the new Centre Manager, is now in post and working hard to ensure everyone’s visit is the best ever.

Barry Johnston, the Site Manager, and the Maintenance Team members who all belong to the Active Support Unit (ASU), have also been hard at work branding the centre as the Bonaly Scout Centre. You will now see the new logo appearing on all paperwork, website and notices – and even our flag.

The final step in the Business Plan was getting formal approval from the Regional Executive Committee which we did last week. At a special meeting on 27 May 2019, the Committee members went through the Bonaly Business Plan, checking all the details and the recommendations for the way forward. They were very pleased to be able to endorse all the recommendations made by the Bonaly Business Planning Group – so all the hard work was very much worthwhile!

As well as the changes to the name, the investment in activities, reductions in prices for SES Scout members, the revitalisation of the Activities Team within the ASU, improvements in customer care and other actions already implemented, it was agreed to carry out reviews of the Business Plan at one year and three years to ensure everything is on track.

The work of the Bonaly Business Planning Group is now over, but members of the Group and many others will continue to support Mark Campbell, Centre Manager, with implementing the exciting changes.

The future of Bonaly is now looking very rosy – so why not take your section for a day visit, or a weekend camp, or even a week-long camp or stay in the centrally heated accommodation in the Chalet or Forth Lodge to see all the improvements that have been made?

Check out availability and prices online for accommodation, camping and activities at https://sesscouts.org.uk/our-centres/bonaly/

Judith Wood, Chair of the Bonaly Business Planning Group and District Commissioner for Braid District

Fifty Cubs from Durham visit Edinburgh and have a great time!

Fifty Cubs from Durham City District came up by coach for their District Camp at Bonaly Scout Centre in Edinburgh. On Saturday we woke up to snow followed by lots of rain, but the Cubs weren’t going to be put off by that.  Having started to plan the route on Friday night, Cubs set off in smaller groups to get the bus into Edinburgh, half were to spend the morning at Dynamic Earth and the other half to start on Monopoly Run.

The morning group eventually made it to Dynamic Earth having got very cold and damp after walking across Edinburgh, so they were very grateful for the hot chocolate that I bought them on arrival to warm them up!  The staff at Dynamic Earth were fantastic – nothing was a bother and we delayed our tour to get warmed up. We spent around 4-5 hours in Dynamic Earth, although some groups spent more time than others. The Cubs had an amazing time!

We then set off trying to get to as many locations as we could and for Cubs to get their photo taken at those places.  We met some very friendly Policemen outside the Scottish Parliament who spoke to the children and let them have a look at their handcuffs.  My group were determined that we would get to The Royal Yacht Britannia, which we did!

Back to camp for a nice warm dinner and an indoor campfire as the Cubs had been cold and wet enough for one day. Well done to our Leaders and Young Leaders who ran our singing for us. It is always good to have lots of volunteers.

On Sunday morning we took the Cubs to the swimming pool at Wester Hailes where the staff were really accommodating.  Cubs took part in staged swimming badges with a number of leaders on the side checking off each stage. The remaining leaders stayed in the pool, just in case, but all went well and 50 Cubs achieved a swimming badge! We split the Cubs into 2 groups and the other half went to Ratho climbing wall where all the Cubs had the opportunity to take part in climbing.

Thank you, Bonaly, for a great weekend, we will definitely be back again soon.

Sarah Dodds, ADC Cub Scouts, Durham

My dream job!!

When I first started camping at Bonaly, Jack Cuthill was in charge and trek carts were the primary means of transport.  Fortunately, my Troop, the 134th Craiglockhart had bought an ex-army radio cart with suspension which could be pushed and pulled by 4 people.  This suited the winding road up to Bonaly. Many years later the campsite has the same attraction given its access to the City and the Pentland Hills however gone are hand carts, replaced by cars and minibuses supervised by the ASU with their radios and hi-vis vests.

We now have a very professional team managing the campsite and whilst we wait on the arrival of our new manager, Mark Campbell, I was given the privilege to support Barry, Lynne, Blanche, Julie and Neil in my role as the Interim Manager for a few months!!!  The focus of our work has been to serve Scouting and support the needs of our Community by offering facilities to schools and other local organisations.  There has been a concern that we hadn’t got the balance just right however with the support of our regular users we have seen a significant increase in the use of the campsite by SES groups.

John, Barry, Blanche, Lynne and Neil

Each weekend when I talk to Leaders at Bonaly they are so enthusiastic about their programme and it’s a delight to watch our young people learn the basics of outdoor life and develop confidence in a safe environment.  There is still much to do to improve the site however Barry, the ASU and Steve’s Estates committee have made a great start using funds provided by the Regional Executive.

Neil, Julie and our Activity Instructors provide exciting and challenging activities.  The demand is growing however given the finite nature of these resources Leaders must plan their programme and book the activities as early as possible to avoid being disappointed.  The team also lead the holiday Adventure Clubs which provide a valuable resource for parents and much needed income for the centre.

Blanche and Lynne also do a fantastic job with the booking arrangements and Regional finances.  Their work has increased significantly with the interest shn in the holiday activities, growing site usage and participation in International camps.  They are totally customer focused and intent on making your visit successful and stress free so come and enjoy their “welcome”.

I also wish to acknowledge the great work done by our other volunteers whose tireless efforts provide the Tuck Shop services and catering for visiting schools and Scouting events. This work is so important and demanding given the increasing demands for dietary needs and the challenges of food allergies.

As my time in this role draws to a close I want to thank every member of staff, the many volunteers and Leaders who have supported Bonaly and continue to make this the best place to play the game of Scouting.   

John Bruce, Regional Secretary and Manager of Bonaly Scout Centre until 6 May 2019.

Win a free weekend in the new Bell Tents at Bonaly!

Can you think of a great name for the new Bell Tents camp at Bonaly?

Involve your young people in our competition and win a free weekend for your Beaver or Cub section!

Please send your suggestions for names to Neil Hogg, Assistant Regional Commissioner (Section Support – Cub Scouts), at info@sesscouts.org.uk

Neil is going to chair the panel which decides the winning name. We would like to have a name with instant appeal to young people. So how about something such as Battlefield Camp, or Stargazer Camp, or Aztec Camp, or Touareg Tents? You tell us what your young people think!

Our tepees have reached the end of the working life and we have replaced them with three Bell Tents. They are available for those camps where you want the outdoor experience without the hassle of pitching tents. These are particularly attractive for Beaver (or any) one night sleep overs.

The three Bell Tents are permanently erected on decking platforms.  There are 2 Bell Tents which sleep 6 persons in each and 1 Bell Tent which sleeps 10 persons. Camping mats are supplied. There is a site hut for cooking or storing equipment, and a small campfire area with seating. There is also an area for erecting more tents. More information at https://sesscouts.org.uk/camping/ or at the Bonaly office: 0131 441 1878.

Closing dates for entries is Sunday 5 May 2019. Don’t delay – get thinking now!

John Bruce, Manager Bonaly Scout Centre, and Neil Hogg, ARC Cubs  

Bonaly SCOUT Centre Is Back!

By popular demand, the name of Bonaly will revert to BONALY SCOUT CENTRE.

This is just the start of some very exciting changes to bring Scouting back to the heart of the centre.  The Bonaly Business Planning Group and the Bonaly Team have been working hard reflecting on comments made during the recent consultation and other forums and pulling together plans. The Regional Executive Committee has agreed that we should revert to the original name and fully supports the way forward which is being planned for the centre. And we have a new logo for the centre, along with a draft strap line for SES Scouts:

Bonaly Scout Centre – explore, enjoy, and learn new skills!

Let us know what you think of it. And as well as the name change, we are pleased to announce the following improvements, with more still to come.

Price Reduction for Instructor-led Activities

For the next few months, South East Region Scouts will be able to book instructor-led activities at £50 per session, subject to availability.  This will apply to bookings for sessions which take place at the centre from 1 April until 1 Sept 2019. After that, we will do everything we can to keep the prices as low as possible for our own Scout groups. It’s our own Scout centre, so let’s make great use of it!

Our South East Scotland Scouts website update

Prices and availability for accommodation, the campsite and activities are now available on our website.  You will also be able to fill in a bookings request form. Please note your booking is not confirmed until you have received your invoice with a booking number from the office team. CLICK HERE

The information on our website about instructor-led activities and self-led activities has also now been updated – well worth a look: CLICK HERE

Day and Evening Visits

Another incentive to bring Scouting back to Bonaly, which has actually been in place for a while but not everyone is aware of, is that the cost of a day or evening visit to Bonaly Scout Centre in now only £1 per person.  Why not take advantage of the lighter nights to spend an evening at the centre?  Our staff can advise you on activities for all age groups or help you plan a campfire. But you bring the marshmallows….

Bell Tents

Our tepees have reached the end of the working life and we have replaced them with three bell tents. They are available for those camps where you want the outdoor experience without the hassle of pitching tents. These are particularly attractive for Beaver (or any) one night sleep overs. See the article about the bell tents in this newsletter and how to win a free weekend for your Cubs or Beavers.

Investment in Activities

We are delighted that the Regional Executive Committee has agreed a sum of £10,000 to fund a review and revitalisation of activities at the centre, both instructor-led and self-led activities. We want to make sure that the activities on offer are really relevant to all our sections’ Scouting programmes. And we are looking forward to benefiting from Mark Campbell’s extensive experience, when he starts as the new Centre Manager on 6 May.

Lots of other improvements are in the pipeline and more information will be coming out about these over the next few months.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Bonaly Scout Centre whether for your first visit or your hundredth!

Judith Wood
Chair of the Bonaly Business Planning Group

John Bruce
Centre Manager

Footpath to the High Ropes

New huts at the campsite

Better floor in the Chalet

Let’s showcase Scouting in our Region!

One of the new cabins in Bonaly – thanks to the hard work of our members raising money at the Tattoo!

We are proud of what we do for Scouting – so let’s tell everyone about it! We are holding an event at Bonaly Scout Centre on Saturday 21 September when we can have fun, learn some Scouting skills and get to know Bonaly better. All leaders, youth members, their parents and friends will be invited to see just how much they can get out of being a leader or volunteer.

The focus of the day will be for young and old to try out new activities, play some games, or have a free go on the High Ropes course. It is a chance for young people to tick off their Our Adventure Challenge Award, or, for those of you who want a less active time, you can have a good chat with people you haven’t seen for some time and just walk round Bonaly seeing all the improvements that have been made. We’ve been investing a lot of money in Bonaly and it’s rapidly getting rid of that ‘tired look’. You will be surprised by what you see!

Bonaly will be open from 10.00 to 4.00 and you can spend as long or as little time as you like. There will be tea, coffee and biscuits provided, or you can try out the backwoods cooking.   It is casual – no uniform – just come in something Scouty: hoodies, fleeces, or a necker.

We will be needing lots of leaders, volunteers, and Explorers and Scouts to help run the activities, so please look out for more information and look forward to joining in what will be a great day. Oh, and by the way, the wet weather programme will be the same as the fine weather programme but with anoraks on!  And somewhere amongst all this will be the Region AGM.

More information coming soon in the April newsletter.

Scouting is coming home to Bonaly!

Margery Naylor, Regional Commissioner