May at Longcraig

May at Longcraig

May 2018 at Longcraig – Been and Gone!

After the particularly cold, prolonged and snowy winter the first month of Longcraig activity has on average been blessed with spring like weather much of the month. The Met Office people think May 2018 may be the warmest on record (somewhere in deepest England, maybe!) so, although not altogether a scorcher, it was a pretty fine month and a good start to our 2018 season.

Summer opportunities

May and June are typically Longcraig’s busiest period, as it’s summer term for Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies etc so everyone wants to cram their bookings into 8 or 9 short weeks.

But summer remains with us through July and August and into September. Consider how you might be able to make use of the Centre for some activities during the summer period:

  • You could sign up for some training courses, for example.
  • You could arrange a patrol event instead of a troop event. Bookings can be made for as few as 6 people, or talk to us if you have a specific requirement that doesn’t quite fit in.
  • You could consider a parent-and-child opportunity (family activity day) if you wish to.

The opportunities are there, the weather is likely to be a little bit warmer, some of the best days and evenings are in the school holiday period but we remain open and available during that period.

Going away for a summer camp or weekend event? Did you know that suitably qualified leaders / adults can hire (almost) any of the equipment at Longcraig for your own event? Obviously, we would check where you plan to use it, and who with, but our rates are very reasonable and definitely cheaper than hiring commercially! We have trailers available for the bigger stuff, but some items are roof-rack toppable if you don’t do towing.

Explorer Units

Following the success of the partnership with the Explorer Unit who have been supporting Longcraig over the winter and subsequently had 11 Explorers participate in a start Sailing course, we invite feedback from other Explorer Units who wish to make water activities and Centre Support a part of their programme. Please contact us for further details of how you can join up and add this to your Unit programme as well as learning new skills, satisfying challenge requirements, and fulfilling service activity all at the same time! Contact Ian on 0131 331 1108 initially.

Push the Boat Out

Try Sailing in May

This year the Royal Yachting Association issued a challenge to all water-sport providers and clubs across the country, as part of a nationwide initiative to encourage more people to participate in water-sports. We at Longcraig took up this challenge and held our Push the Boat Out day in May, but aimed this time at adults and leaders, who often miss out on actually participating in the activities when down with their groups and units. To match the tides on the day, we ran from 2pm through to 6pm and finished off with a barbeque in the evening sunshine. Participants came from all over the Region, many of whom had never sailed or kayaked or paddle-boarded before, getting the opportunity to Have a Go!

James Allan, the RYA Scotland Chief executive, was enthusiastic about supporting our event, and about the specific way in which we had chosen to arrange it. Longcraig was visited by a representative from RYA on the day, as well as members of the Regional Executive.

Longcraig open for business

Longcraig open for business

Longcraig is open for business!

After a bit of a madcap winter caused by some very inclement weather for much of the period, we have now got most of the boats, kayaks and other equipment ready for use once again on the Firth of Forth.

With a new online booking system, it is now much less complex to make a booking, see what’s available, and get your event booked up, or even to make changes to existing bookings!

So far this year, we have fitted in a Powerboat training course and two Dinghy Introductory training courses, with more to follow.

Push the boat out

On Saturday 19 May, Longcraig Scout Centre is participating in a national activity day supported by the RYA, to encourage folks to come along and try a watersport. This year, we are aiming this specifically at adult members of Scouting (there will be a young persons event at a later opportunity!) so please check out the poster on the website and come along for some or all of the day. Aimed at complete novices or even those with a little water experience, it is an opportunity to try a variety of boats and activities so you can see for yourself what the young people get up to – without any young people getting in the way!  See full details.

50 Years of activities at Longcraig pier

Not until next year! But it’s time to think about it. If your Group, or anyone you have connections to, has a special anniversary next year we would like to know so we can share it and perhaps link it into our anniversary year programme. Watch this space as the programme of events for 2019 develops! And remember to dig out your old photographs! The competition is still open to find the oldest!  See earlier article.

Ian Harrower Longcraig ASU

RYAG visit Longcraig

RYAG visit Longcraig

On Saturday 22 April some members of the Regional Youth Advisory Group headed down to Longcraig on a fact-finding mission. We had two simple aims:

  1. How do we support Longcraig getting more Young People involved, and;
  2. How do we get more Young People interested in doing activities?

After meeting Ian on possibly the hottest day of the year so far, we had a good look around to see what Longcraig had on offer. It has a lot to offer, we discovered. Once the formal tour was over there was a chance for us to get to know the people at Longcraig, and conveniently for us there were four young people taking part in sailing training after helping out at Longcraig. They talked about how rewarding it was to work so hard over the winter repairing boats and then to learn how to sail one, most of them never having been in a boat on their own before!

Regional Youth Advisory Group meet Longcraig volunteers

RYAG meet Longcraig volunteers

Then came the Golden Question “Do you want a ride in the power boat?”, to which the reply was a fast and definitive “YES!”. Off we went to get our buoyancy aids (safety first) and had an amazing tour of the Forth Rail Bridge.

We left with lots of thoughts on how we can help get more young people involved, but our first and most obvious point is just telling them. So, if you have young people who are interested in a new challenge on or off the water, then get in touch.

Adam Bennett    Assistant Regional Commissioner (Youth Involvement)

Longcraig is nearly 50!

Longcraig is nearly 50!

Send us your memories for an anniversary scrap book covering the whole period.

Next year will mark 50 years since Scouts, and Guides, first made use of Longcraig Pier, nestled alongside the famous Forth Bridge at South Queensferry, for a few tentative sailing and canoeing activities.
This was ground-breaking stuff, as adventurous activities in Scouting were in their infancy, and many of these activities were otherwise out of reach of many Scout Groups.
In anticipation of things to come next year, we are starting to put together recollections, stories, experiences and perhaps some of the things you might not have told anyone about at the time.
If you have a tale to tell, or a memory to share with others, or simply want to let everyone know how some time at Longcraig shaped or changed your life, please tell us. Or was it simply that you just enjoyed the experience of a dip in the Forth on a freezing April evening?
We are aiming to gather all the inputs to generate an anniversary scrap book, so please dig out your old memories and send them to us. It doesn’t have to be from 50 years ago – we need material from 50 years, 40 years, 30 years, 20 years – even last year! If you have a story, please share it with us!
Ian Harrower, Longcraig ASU

Where snow and water meet

Where snow and water meet

Longcraig in the winter – as seen by Explorers

If you thought that winter maintenance of boats involved cleaning off seaweed and then a long snooze until spring – read on!

Over the winter, the Bore Stane Explorer Unit from Pentland District has been actively engaged in helping the team at Longcraig to carry out an extensive programme of winter maintenance. This has not only involved learning new skills about fixing boats, it also involved fixing trailers with dodgy brakes, clearing out drains clogged by the winter storms, clearing the beach and the land side of washed in debris and seaweed, as well as a range of cleaning and mending.

This winter in particular has been a bit taxing, with nearly all of the work days so far accompanied by snowfalls and freezing temperatures. So, no early swims in the Forth (yet) for this team of hardy helpers, but lots of indoor jobs undertaken.

Longcraig in the snow

Longcraig in winter

So, what’s in it for the Explorers, I hear you say?

Well, firstly, they are learning new skills over the winter about how boats go together, why they need mended, painted and varnished; how they get repaired and put back together for the new sailing season; checking and servicing safety equipment and clothing.

Secondly, they have the opportunity to work together as a team, and to work together with the experienced folks from the ASU who can then pass on their skills.

Then when the spring comes and some warmer weather, they will get involved in preparing and launching boats and start to learn seamanship skills leading on to kayaking, dinghy sailing, and powerboating over the summer months.

There is now a badge available for Scouts who assist and support ‘Activity Centres’ and these guys are working towards that. But more than that – in a year or two those who wish will become the instructors of tomorrow and will then pass on their skills to others – perhaps even to their own Scouts!

This same opportunity is available to other Explorer Units across the Region. Interested to find out more? Contact us on or via Bonaly office on 0131 441 1878.

Ian Harrower, Longcraig ASU