D of E has normally been completed in the Scottish Borders District through the schools but a couple of years ago we decided to get some leaders though their expedition assessors’ course and start running our own expeditions and awards.
Then Covid happened! Our Summer 2020 expeditions were cancelled, and we didn’t know when they would take place. Move forward to Autumn 2020 and temporary changes to the rules allowed expeditions without camping. Borders District joined other districts in the Pentlands to run Bronze qualifying & Silver practice expeditions.
Spring 2021, a new cohort of Bronze from the Borders were preparing for their expedition, but new Covid restrictions prevented them attending the Pentland Hills. So, a Borders based expedition was planned around the Eildon Hills.
The weekend of the 7,8 and 9th May saw 20 Explorers from the Lauderdale and Tweedglen units unite to form 3 expedition teams. Approximately 17km each day through the rolling Borders hills.
Friday night started the weekend with a last zoom briefing and quiz, Saturday took the expedition groups in a loop north of Melrose testing their navigation skills through a mixture of farming and open ground. The weather was as much of a test as the navigation, with heavy rain, winds and cold temperatures.
The 3 teams all made good progress and coped with the tricky navigation of parts of the first day, they finished off with cooking tea in Melrose before heading home.
Sunday promised slightly better weather and the temperatures were certainly a few degrees warmer, the teams assembled from 8:30am. Two teams started along the banks of Tweed and the third with a sharp assent of the Eildon Hills, both working in opposite directions they would pass each other at lunch time.
The weather still had its surprises with more heavy rain, but it didn’t seem to dampen the participants spirits. With teams arriving back in Melrose just before 5pm they all look tired but very proud of what they had achieved.
To my knowledge this is our first Scottish Borders based Bronze Expedition planned and run by the Borders District Scouts but it won’t be the last, a great achievement and congratulations to all the Leaders involved, here’s to the next expedition.
Andy Beaumont District Commissioner, Borders District
Four Explorer Scout Young Leaders from Lauderdale Scouts recently achieved their Young Leader Belts.
Aksel and Dylan are Explorer Scout Young Leaders for Scouts; Amy and Ellyn are Explorer Scout Young Leaders for Cubs.
To earn their belts, they completed all of their modules. Their missions included a variety of outdoor activities, such as setting up a night hike in Thirlestane Castle grounds in Lauder and organising a litter pick, and indoor activities, such as leading consultations with young people about badge choices/planning and moderating patrol leader forums.
Prince Charles dropped in to see some of our Scouts, Cubs and Beavers as part of his recent visit to the Borders.
On 1st November Prince Charles had a busy day of engagements in the Borders visiting a trendy deli, a knitwear factory and cashmere company. Whilst he was there, he dropped in to watch the Melrose Scout Group toasting marshmallows over a fire pit at the Old Melrose Dairy Steading.
Prince Charles watched over a group of scouts, cubs and beavers as they toasted marshmallows over a fire pit at the dairy
Great River Clean Up
In October, communities across the Scottish Borders including Scouts, Cubs and Beavers came together to help clear plastic and litter from the region’s waterways. Their endeavours were captured on a slot on Borders TV – see video below. A great example of excellent community work by our young people in the Borders
Innerleithen youngsters go for gold to back eagle project
The Southern Reporter – 21/01/2019
Youngsters in Innerleithen are keeping an eye on the sky to show their support for a project to boost southern Scotland’s golden eagle population. The town’s scout group has been signed up by the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project as its first champions as part of an initiative to help safeguard the future of the birds of prey in the region. The scouts will get the chance to learn all about the iconic birds and will design a badge to display their champion status.
Borders Scouts work to safeguard the future of golden eagles
Peeblesshire News – 18/01/2019
SCOUTS in Innerleithen have launched a new initiative to help safeguard the future of golden eagles in the UK. Working with the the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, the youngsters will become the county’s first ever ‘Golden Eagle Champions’. The Innerleithen Scout Group’s new role will allow the children to discover how golden eagles live and survive as well as learning from wildlife experts as they get out and about in the countryside. It is also hoped that the initiative will further the Scouts’ knowledge of the local environment and the abundance of wildlife on their doorstep.
Scottish Scouts become Golden Eagle Champions
Scottish Field Magazine – 18/01/2019
A Scottish Scout group is launching the first ever Golden Eagle Champions initiative to help safeguard the future of Golden Eagles in the UK. Working closely with the groundbreaking South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, the Scottish Borders Innerleithen Scout Group will become the UK’s first ever Golden Eagle Champions, learning from experts and getting to see some of these iconic birds themselves. The Borders’ Scouts will also be designing a special badge that the group can earn as part of their work on this project.
The past year has seen an increasing number of Young People taking part and Adult volunteers becoming involved in Scouting in the Borders which is excellent news. This has kept our Appointments Advisory Committee and Getting Started training busy and active on a regular alternate bimonthly programme. Groups are offering a varied and engaging programme to all Young People from regular weekly meetings to all manners of trips out be they local or city based. Nights Away Experiences are a regular part of many Groups activities involving all sections on a local, national and International level. The Borders were very fortunate to have 10 Explorers participate in the Blair Atholl Jamborette along with 7 selected for the 2019 American World Scout Jamboree. In January a District Brass Monkey camp enjoyed by 100 Scouts was held at Kelso Racecourse which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the first one held in the Borders which is said to be the birthplace of the Brass Monkey camp.
This year we have also appointed our first Assistant District Commissioners for Youth Involvement – one will be appointed in each cluster and so far, two out of three are in place. These roles are being filled by young people between 18-25 who are bringing a fresh new viewpoint to the District team and they are already ensuring that the views of Young People are at the heart of what we do.
Borders District have been very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of a substantial bequest by the late David Hendry of Jedburgh for which we are extremely grateful. Part of this has been used by SHQ to fund a Local Development Officer for a two-year period. This is allowing us to target specifically three groups, one in each Cluster with the aim of growing them in adult volunteers, sections available and number of young people involved. Whilst the benefits of having an LDO directly involved in the District are immense, it cannot be under estimated the additional work load placed upon the District team. The balance of the bequest has been made available to the District to benefit directly all of the Young People. This is now beginning to take effect with distributions flowing out to groups.
Borders District has a huge geographical spread covering approximately 5000 km2 which creates a logistical challenge for all involved. Huge thanks to all of our dedicated leaders, District Executive and District Team for tackling this head on and making opportunities available for the Young People over all of this area. It was with great pleasure at our District AGM in May I was able to present four Chief Scout’s Commendations for Good Service and four Awards of Merit to leaders and Executive members.
On Saturday 27 January 100 Scouts and Young Leaders arrived at Kelso racecourse ready for the Brass Monkey camp, and to celebrate 50 years since these started in the Borders.
One of the early leaders
In 1968 Jack Robb, the DC of Roxburghshire, decided to run a one-night camp to challenge the Scouts. He decided to code-name it the Brass Monkey camp. The first one was held in Scotchkershope and had around 45 Scouts in attendance. The camp was a huge success and very quickly over the next few years attracted Scouts not just from the Borders but from all over Scotland, England and even Wales. Local Scouter Bill Watt got involved from the early camps and recently Marion Macintosh, one of the Borders ADCs, had the great pleasure of visiting him and letting him know how it is still running and showed him the trophy we use. He remembers one camp where it was so cold they had to go to the local ironmongers to get large iron nails instead of pegs! Bill still has his original neckie! He is very pleased to hear that we still keep the book going too!
The largest camp had over 400 in attendance. Every participant that attended was awarded their Brass Monkey neckie and later a badge. One camp in the 80s is noted as being so cold that the calor gas bottles froze overnight!. The Scouts were unable to take up their tent pegs due to the frozen ground and when the camp returned to this site in 2009 tent pegs were found! The venue for the Brass Monkey camp changed every year. One of the traditions that started early on is that the participants were all asked to sign the Brass Monkey book. This tradition is still on-going and it’s great to be able to look back over the years at the history of the camp.
In 1984 a trophy was presented as a gift from a Scout group in Wales. It was to be awarded to someone that had contributed to the running of the camp. This trophy is a Brass Monkey in a kilt. It was first awarded to Jack Robb and it is still awarded today. In the past there were also pottery mugs and pottery woggles!
This year’s camp took place at Kelso racecourse where the Scouts camped on the side of the racecourse. They had an afternoon of activities, a mixture of fun, adventurous activities and Scouting skills, including, for the first time, axe throwing. They were also treated to bubble football at Kelso High School where the main concern was that the Scouts might actually take off in the wind! The evening activities included Zumba and a movie with the Sunday morning seeing all the participants take part in an ‘urban-eering’ course around Kelso. The Young Leaders at the camp were given the opportunity to work with the ESL (YL) on their Young Leader missions and modules, too. The weather, whilst not as cold as the previous weekend’s snow, was windy and, in true Scottish fashion, a bit dreich. The Scouts and the leader team all had a great camp and are looking forward to next year’s camp.