SEEE DofE Events – Borders

SEEE DofE Events – Borders

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

More on “DofE canoe expedition training…”

As highlighted in last month’s newsletter, the Coronavirus lockdown hasn’t stopped a group of 16 Explorers from Craigalmond, Braid, Pentland and West Lothian Districts starting the training for their Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) expeditions by canoe…online.  It came about from the chance encounter of a Leader with interests in enhancing the uptake of paddle sport in Scouting and an Assistant Regional Commissioner knowing about an unmet desire amongst Explorers to do their DofE expedition by some other means than hiking.  After discussions with the Explorers’ DESCs over coffees and cake, a plan was agreed.  Its lead, Steve Hankin, picks up with what’s been achieved despite coronavirus and the latest developments to enhance paddle expeditions across the Region…

Having got the go-ahead and the opportunity to work with a ready-made group of Explorers keen to do their Silver or Gold Award expeditions by canoe, the plan involved a mix of shore-based and on-water training & practice, covering all the aspects needed for an expedition by canoe.  A number of elements (e.g. campcraft, first aid, navigation, route planning and risk assessment) were going to be done in conjunction with the hike-based training programmes for the DofE Awards running jointly between the Craigalmond, Braid and Pentland Districts.  It was all coming together nicely.  Then came lockdown.

Not wanting to lose the interest or momentum, and knowing that the DofE Training Frameworks have a substantive amount of knowledge development as well as skills development, we proposed to make good use of the time by delivering the knowledge-based aspects of the training programme through a series of 8 weekly online sessions using a mix of interactive and instructional activities.

Content for each week was developed to suit online meetings, using images & short videos, discussions captured on the Zoom Whiteboard, quiz questions and break-out rooms.  Covering the basics about safety, equipment, parts of the canoe and even what the different paddling strokes look like, is intended to help the paddlers feel a little more prepared for getting on the water once face-to-face Scouting resumes.  A Leader team made up of two DESCs, a DofE Leader and an Explorer Leader ensured online safeguarding and provided invaluable support to the sessions with input from their experiences on and off the water.

Having completed the initial knowledge training, feedback from the Explorers has been positive (“The sessions have been really enjoyable and built a good foundation of our paddling skills” Callum Smith, Cramond ESU) and interest in continuing sessions over the summer has been expressed by the majority taking part. The Explorers have put forward suggestions for further online meetings they want to do, including discussion of expedition food & menu planning, a quiz and a DofE Q&A session to give them some insight into what’s expected in the expedition’s assessment.

Getting the training underway during lockdown is intended to have numerous benefits, some obvious and some that are perhaps more subtle.  The sessions have given the group (from six ESUs) the early opportunity to get to know each other and the Leader team, as well as helping them develop their knowledge of something that’s new to many of them.  Whilst the Explorers all have different paddle sport abilities, they share a common goal of wanting a new challenge in how they do their DofE expeditions.

It’s very much hoped that this new initiative in training, practice and support for paddle expeditions and longer-term skills development, will encourage young people in Scouting to take up the opportunity to pass on their knowledge and skills to those embarking on paddle expeditions in the years ahead.  To support this and establish a base for local DofE paddle expedition training, developments are underway to reactivate the Explorer Scout Unit based at Longcraig Scout Water Activity Centre over the coming months and establish a programme for Explorers to gain skills in paddle- and water-sports activities and leadership that can contribute towards their Top Awards and, in time, as part of the ESYL programme and the long-term sustainability of skills at Longcraig.

If you are interested in any of this, or have Explorers looking to do their expedition by canoe in 2021 and interested in training, get in touch!

Steve Hankin
Assistant Scout Leader
steve.hankin@yahoo.com

A proper expedition – not just tourists!

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.

John Buchanan DofE Assessor, and ARC (Explorers)

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award leaders meet Earl of Forfar

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 dofe@sesscouts.org.uk. 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)

Bronze Award expedition

Silver Award expedition

Gold Award expedition

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.

Hillwalking training update

Hillwalking and climbing information

The Region ran a taster training session on 30 April. Eight leaders from across the Region spent an evening with Mountaineering Instructors Davy Virdee and Martin Holland looking at the skills needed to move towards gaining a hillwalking permit.

There’s lots of demand for hillwalking training, and Davy Virdee – the Regional assessor – will now start to schedule more training events. Feel free to contact him for more information. (Photos Nikki Maclean)

Night navigation in the hills

Duke of Edinburgh and Remote Supervision

Duke of Edinburgh expeditions are common amongst many Explorer Units.

For remotely supervised expeditions in Terrain 1 and Terrain 2 a supervisory permit is required in addition to your leadership permit. To get a supervisory permit, you should have a good leadership experience in your chosen terrain and be able to draw up comprehensive supervision plans for the groups you are intending to remotely supervise. Most, if not all Silver and Gold expeditions will fall into Terrain 1 and Terrain 2.

Bronze expeditions, typically take place in Terrain Zero, and so no leadership nor supervisory hillwalking permits are needed. However, District Commissioner Authorisation is required. As part of this notification should be to produce a comprehensive supervision plan for your expedition. If in doubt, you can pass along expedition plans to Davy Virdee for advice.

Hillwalking in the Pentland and Lammermuir Hills – Terrain Zero

The Pentland and Lammermuir Hills are on doorstep of the Region – and with good planning, much of it falls into Terrain Zero (https://members.scouts.org.uk/por9.28) and as such you do not need a permit to explore them.

However, you must follow the rules which can be found here:

https://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/30/hillwalking?moduleID=24&cat=26,407,351

These include asking for authorisation and providing route plans and risk assessments.

The Regional assessor is happy to consider restricted permits to leaders wanting to take groups to the tops of hills like Lammer Law and Carnethy Hill. Please contact Davy for more details.

Climbing

Davy Virdee is also Regional assessor for all climbing and other mountaineering based activities.

More Information and Contact

http://www.mountainactive.co.uk/blog/se-scotland-hillwalking-training/

davy@mountainactive.co.uk