On 28 July 2019, 17 Scouts and 8 Leaders from our troop based at Liberton Kirk, set off for a week’s camp at the International Scout Centre in Kandersteg Switzerland.
Our flight was delayed and the weather was awful the night we arrived so we were very late in arriving at the Centre, but everyone was in excellent spirits and we got settled in very quickly.
We spent Monday getting our bearings round the huge campsite, meeting scouts from all over the world. We also went into the village in the afternoon for a spot of souvenir ordering and swimming in the stunning outdoor pool. The evening was spent enjoying a torchlit walk with other scouts.
Tuesday saw us take a gondola to Oecheninsee glacier lake. Our scouts took a guided walk around the cliff edge above the beautiful lake – this was a 5 ½ hour hike in challenging terrain and extremely hot weather, but every single person that went on the hike made it round and faced personal challenges on the way.
On the Wednesday, we were up super early for a coach trip to pick up our first train taking us up to Jungfrauoch, named the summit of Europe. The train journey’s up were just stunning, when we got out of cloud and the observation stop at Eismeer, in the middle of the mountain was amazing. The scouts spent several hours at the summit, taking in all it had to offer. The train returned us to Kleine Scheideg where we joined another group of Scouts from the UK and we all hiked down to Grindewald.
Thursday – 1 August – National Swiss Day and birthday of scouting. Really fun activities around KISC centre, outdoor breakfast and a BBQ, before we all donned formal uniform for a torchlit march into Kandersteg village for a bonfire and firework display.
Friday saw another early start heading on the train to Thun, where we picked up white water rafting to Berne. This was such a brilliant activity and we got to jump in from the boats and swim alongside them in beautifully clear, warm waters.
On our final full day, we took the gondola again out of Kandersteg village and spent the first half of the morning on the rodalbhan, a metal toboggan track that chicanes down the mountain side, riding on a plastic sled! Brilliant fun. We then hiked back to the glacier lake for a dip in the waters there before we hiked back into the village and revisited the outdoor pool for the afternoon.
We had the most incredible trip and as leader in charge, I could not be prouder of our Scouts and the leadership team.
If you would like to learn more about the trip to Kandersteg please get in touch with me via email@example.com
Aileen Deas Assistant Group Scout Leader 162nd Braid
Two groups of Explorers formed from Braid and Craigalmond carried out an excellent DofE Gold expedition over four days at the end of August, walking from Corrour Station and completing their circular route at Rannoch.
One candidate unfortunately had to drop out on day 3 with an ankle problem but the other twelve completed the expedition in style, one group singing ‘Country road, take me home …’ to keep their spirits up on the last stretch.
“It was fun.” “I’m rather sad it’s over.” “The views were spectacular.” “We really loved seeing a group of tourists watch us wade over the flooded causeway then turn back rather than do the same.” “The best bit was on the last day when we could see back up to the saddle we had climbed on the first day and we realised what we had achieved.”
They all had a sense of humour. For instance, when asked how they had crossed the river the answer was “After considerable discussion and deliberation”. And one commented at the debrief session near the end “No ticks, but there’s still a kilometre to go.”
Both groups enjoyed being out in the wilds with no phone signal and relying on burns for water. They had built up their skills over the previous levels and really appreciated meeting and working together with new friends and having time to chat about things at the campsites. They were delighted by the perfect weather: almost no rain and enough wind to keep the midges away for a lot of the time. They all intend to get back into the hills again.
The groups did very interesting presentations based on their purpose: one studying Gaelic place names, the other comparing the three big estates they walked through.
They can take a real pride in their achievement and are to be congratulated on it. Thanks and congratulations are also due to the many adults who helped directly and indirectly with the training, practice and qualifying expeditions done at Bronze, Silver and Gold over several years, and without whom this would not have happened.
One of our Friday Night Troop Meetings in May took the form of a visit to the Scottish Parliament which, of course, was built within Braid District (excellent choice). Our guide and host for the evening was our local MSP, Daniel Johnson, who met us at the front door before guiding us through the necessary security. As we are planning an overseas trip next year, this was good practice in getting the Scouts to concentrate on what they had to do.
Daniel showed us round the public parts of the building and those reserved for the politicians and staff. In one of the committee rooms, he explained the purpose and functioning of the committees which gives members of the public the opportunity to present and give evidence to MSPs.
The final part of the tour was in the magnificent main debating chamber and all the Scouts were able to sit in the seat of an MSP and even those of the ‘heid yins’ before firing questions at Daniel. This then led to a very special part of the evening for our four youngest Scouts, who had been told to look their very smartest for the evening. They became the very first Scouts from the 28th to be invested in these grand surroundings and perhaps the first ever Scouts from anywhere. It was a memorable end to a very interesting evening and we were very grateful to Daniel for giving up his time.
The Earl of Forfar (who is better known as Prince Edward), met a group of our leaders at a reception in the City Chambers on 4 July for DofE leaders from across Edinburgh and the Lothians. Simon Cocker of Meadows ESU, Sam Dickinson of Borestane ESU and Janet Paterson, DofE expedition organiser, represented Braid, Pentland and Craigalmond Districts respectively, along with John Buchanan, one of our two Regional Advisers for DofE. We were accompanied by the new DofE Manager from SHQ, Calum Lorimer.
At this very pleasant event we were able to report considerable success in organising DofE through Scouting in our Region: 56 young people have successfully completed their Bronze expedition this season and 18 Silvers and 14 Golds look forward to completing theirs. The DofE awards dovetail closely with the Chief Scout’s Platinum and Diamond and with the Queen’s Scout Award.
Those of us present were very conscious that we were representing the many adults who contribute towards this success by helping with administration, training, supervision and assessment. The best model is clearly that of cooperation within and across the Districts, as nobody can run DofE alone.
Training and help are available and interested adults are encouraged to contact the Regional Adviser(s) for advice using firstname.lastname@example.org. Any offers of assistance will be most welcome. It is also worth reminding young adult leaders that they can complete or start the Gold Award, as they have until the age of 25 to do so.
John Buchanan Assistant Regional Commissioner (Explorers)
Meadows Explorer unit used a fun and effective way to prepare for their Explorer Belt. Assistant Explorer Scout Leader Vikki McIntyre created an excellent interactive game for use with the whole Unit. A full report was published in the recent edition of Scouting magazine. The article can be found here, and contains links to download the materials needed for the game.
Last summer the Danish Scout Associations came together to run a National Jamboree. Having experienced fantastic Danish Jamborees several times before, a contingent made up of 65 Cubs, Scouts, Explorers, Network and Leaders from 4th Braid, 103rd Braid and Greenbank Explorers embarked on a trip to Jamboree Denmark 2017.
Cubs, Scouts and leaders on the ferry
We travelled by coach to Newcastle and then overnight ferry to Amsterdam where another coach took us the almost 9 hours through Netherlands and Germany into Denmark. Our kit travelled on the same ferry in a large van.
Feedback from the young people was that the coach to Newcastle was a bit cramped (5 seats across) however that this was more than made up with the “luxury” coach we’d hire for the continent.
The whole site
On arriving in Denmark, our van drivers had managed to negotiate access to drive our kit all the way onto our site and therefore we only had to carry personal kit the 1km from the coach drop-off point to our site. One
downside of the time of our method of travel was that we had to pitch our sleeping tents as it got dark. Only one modification required in the morning as we’d pitched one of the leaders’ tents over a ditch. With such a large group, we had decided to bring a marquee without the side walls which was quickly pitched before breakfast on Sunday morning. The Danes are very traditional in their camping with a focus on skills such as pioneering and an expectation that food is cooked on open fires. We therefore spent most of the day on Sunday building our fireplaces, tables and benches, true Danish style out of pioneering poles (topped off with plywood table tops we’d prepared and brought from Edinburgh).
Throughout the day on Sunday we also took some time to explore the site (which was 2km x 2.5km large).
After lots of hard work on Sunday it was time for the evening opening ceremony. This brought together all 40,000 participants. This was quite an experience, although some of our young people found it difficult to follow, as unsurprisingly it was mostly in Danish.
After the hike
During the week the young people took part in a wide variety of activities. There was a good mix of activities to suit our full age range. Some of the activities we had signed up individuals or groups in advance, some we could just drop in to and others were set activities for the whole group / sub camp to do. For many of the activities the Scottish Scouts took part alongside Scouts from other countries and made new friends.
One activity that was a favourite with both Scouts and Explorers was the world’s largest inflatable “The Beast”. A couple of days of activities featured patrols of Scouts paired with a patrol from another country and going around a variety of challenges. These activities ranged from carving whistles, lifting a car with pioneering poles & pulleys to launching water rockets.
One day was designated a sub camp day when the whole of our sub camp came together to build and race chariots.
One afternoon we held a joint camp fire with our Danish neighbours.
Having been apart for most of the day, our group came together each evening to eat our dinner under our marquee. Explorers and Scouts take turns days about to prepare dinner for everyone using recipes from the Danish Camp Cookbook and a bit of improvisation depending on what ingredients could be sourced from the food supply tent.
After a great week the camp finished with the closing ceremony. We then departed the site about 3am to travel back to Amsterdam. We made good time and had a few hours explorer the centre of Amsterdam before taking the ferry back to the UK.
Some quotes from those who took part
“I enjoyed the giant inflatable (The “Beast”). I didn’t enjoy the opening and closing ceremonies because these were in Danish. However, I did like the fact that there were so many people there.”
“Absolutely class, slip and slide bouncy castle was good and the rainbow café was my favourite destination because I could really let my hair down.”
“I really enjoyed meeting some Norwegian Scouts and becoming friends.”
“We met lots of nice people from different countries and it was a great experience.”
“My favourite bit was eating, sleeping and cycling around the town in the rain and the Beast, it was so much fun.”
“One night we went to the International Camp Fire. There were Japanese singers, Greek Scouts and Danish people there. Other Scottish Scouts were there. We got to meet new people.”
“The best thing was meeting Scouts from other countries, it’s not something I’d expected to be my favourite part before leaving Scotland.”
Boating at the camp
“Our whole experience in Denmark was AMAZING, there was so many fun and exciting activities to do” Our five favourite activities were 5) Star Gazing, 4) Sailing, 3) Cycle Hike 2) Raft Building and last of all our favourite activity was 1) The Beast.”
“The travel was very fun, 18 hours ferry, 9 hours coach, nice coach by the way 5 Star. Activities all were very fun as well meet a lot of new people. The cycle is good go for pink bike with basket on front. The exhibition was very fun as well meet people from different countries. The journey back in Amsterdam is very good nice sightseeing and also go along the backroads of the city.”
“We met some wonderful Danish Scouts whom we shared our unique Scottish customs with. It was a life-changing and unique experience which I count myself extremely lucky to have been a part of.”
With our Danish neighbours
What Expedition Achieved
All the Young People had a great international experience, meeting Scouts and Guides from across the world and taking part in activities with many different people
A joint expedition between two Scout troops, an Explorer Unit & Network established strong links which will help with the transition particularly from Scouts to Explorers
Pre-expedition fundraising involved parents as well as young people / leaders and therefore generated new areas of support for both groups and the unit.
Greater independence and confidence especially of younger scouts.
Lessons learnt / What we would do differently
Each Jamboree, even ones in the same country only 9 years apart, can be very different.
Make more effort, earlier, to make links with the Danish Group we were to camp next to.
Rather than leaving camp in the early hours of the morning it would have been better to leave around midnight after closing ceremony and to travel through the night, then spending almost a full day in Amsterdam.
William Lyburn Fund
We would like to thank the William Lyburn fund for the grant we received.
Knowing we had received the grant gave us an important contingency fund against unexpected events, particularly uncertainty caused by the volatility of the exchange rate during the period before the trip. In the end we were also able to also use the grant specifically to pay for extras which greatly enhanced to overall trip for the young people who took part. These extras included:
The Explorers enjoyed two excursions into town including pizza lunch and swimming.
The Scouts enjoyed a swimming excursion into town and a movie in the cinema on the ferry.