Thanks to Mike and Simon and Welcome to Kirstie

Thanks to Mike and Simon and Welcome to Kirstie

As reported in last month’s Newsletter, our new Scouting Support Officer is Kirstie Armsworth who will commence in role from 5th July 2021. Kirstie’s details are as follows: 

Email: kirstie.armsworth@sesscouts.org.uk 

Tel: 07710 703 372

Kirstie will take over from Mike Treanor who undertook the role from July 2019 until recently. Mike had this to say about his time in role:  

“I really enjoyed being the Scouting Support Officer for South East Scotland Region, working with so many great people across the Region, helping to support our adult volunteers give our young people Skills for Life and great experiences. My focus initially was on recruitment of adult volunteers but, with the COVID Pandemic, that focus turned towards supporting leaders and other volunteers to navigate the new requirements like risk assessments as well as supporting virtual programme planning. Latterly, I supported recruitment activity for the Regional Office, adult volunteers across the Region and for Longcraig and Bonaly Scout Centres. I would like to thank Margery Naylor, our previous Regional Commissioner, for her support during year one and to Martin Elliot our current RC for his more recent support; to Graeme Robertson for his wise counsel; to the District Commissioners and their deputies for their engagement and help; to the wider Regional Leadership Team and finally to the many, many passionate Scouting volunteers across the Region who I worked with during the two years. I look forward to working with you in a volunteer capacity going forward”  

Thanks from Martin Elliot, Regional Commissioner

I think I speak for many within the Region when I thank Mike for the work that he has done in the two years he has been Scouting Support Officer. The number of messages of thanks and tributes to Mike on social media on his last day highlight how many members of the Region, both adult volunteers and young people, have benefitted from his support and show what an invaluable asset to Scouting in South East Scotland he has been. The work that Mike has done to support adult volunteers over the last two years has had a big impact and in particular the way that Mike was able to so quickly switch focus to support with Virtual Scouting when COVID hit and still managed to recruit new volunteers when we could only meet virtually helps to explain why South East Scotland was able to weather the pandemic better than many others. On a personal level I have benefited hugely from Mike’s wise counsel as I took on the Regional Commissioner role and am glad that he will continue to support the Region in a voluntary capacity.

I wish you all the best for your (well earned) retirement.

Thank You Simon

As some of you will be aware, Simon Cocker stepped down as Deputy Regional Commissioner for South East Scotland at the end of June as he prepares to move to pastures new south of the Border although he will still be around the Region for a while yet with some of his other hats on!

I wanted to take this opportunity to express my thanks to Simon for all of the work that he has done in his time on the Regional team during which he has made a huge contribution to the work of the Region both as Deputy RC but also as Acting RC during the recent vacancy. Simon has played a leading role in driving forward the Programme pillar of the Regional Strategy and as part of this has been heavily involved in the SEEE (South East Explorer Expeditions) group and did a large amount of work leading working groups looking at Transitioning Pathways and Top Awards which have made good progress in supporting these areas of the programme. Personally, I will miss his support and guidance, which I have benefitted hugely from, but I know that the infrastructure that he has put in place mean that the work that he has done will continue to have an influence on Scouting in SE Scotland for a long time to come.

So, thank you Simon for all that you have done and I wish you and Diane every happiness as you move onto pastures new.

Martin Elliot
Regional Commissioner
rc@sesscouts.org.uk

Bonaly Scout Centre Update July 2021

Bonaly Scout Centre Update July 2021

Scouting returns to Bonaly

 

Now that we are allowed to offer camping at the Centre it’s been great to see a number of groups enjoying the facilities. The Pink Panther Explorers had a great camp at Bonaly a couple of weeks ago. Fraser Dunmore sad “it was amazing to get back to camp where life is always a lot simpler. The explorers played wide games, chilled out the round fire, cooked pizza, took part in crate climbing, invested 7 new explorers into our unit, what’s not to love? Bring on summer camp in August!”

Epic Days

More than 3,000 Primary 7 pupils visited Bonaly Scout Centre during May and June for an innovative initiative run by the Centre and the Outdoor Learning Team at the City of Edinburgh Council.

During the pandemic, and in line with Scottish Government guidance, there have been no P7 residential trips to the council’s outdoor learning centres at Lagganlia and Benmore. The Council team decided to bring the outdoor activities to the city and provide a taste of the full residential experience in one extended day.

Pupils took part in a variety of activities such as hillwalking in the Pentland Hills, archery, climbing wall, bushcraft, crate- stack, nightline and low ropes course. This was followed by an al fresco hot meal, games and a camp fire.

Peter Casebow, Chair of the Bonaly Scout Centre, said:” It has been fantastic over the last few weeks to see and hear Bonaly Scout Centre full of young people having fun and learning again. The hard work by the team at Council in partnership with ourselves has really paid off.”.

ScotJam 2021

Planning is progressing well for the ScotJam events to be held at Bonaly Scout Centre on 17th and 18th July. Over the two days, 120 Cubs and Scouts will undertake a range of outdoor activities around the centre followed by games, dinner and a camp-fire. We will tell you how it went in our next newsletter.

Royal Visit

At the end of June, Bonaly was proud to host the Earl of Forfar and the team from Duke of Edinburgh Scotland to showcase their work to His Royal Highness. 

The Earl of Forfar and Lord Lieutenant being welcomed to Bonaly

SEEE Expeditions Successes

SEEE Expeditions Successes

The SEEE (South East Explorer Expedition) Team have completed an epic series of three Silver Qualifier and Gold Practice DofE hillwalking expeditions in June.

Expedition 1

19 Explorers from Braid (Greenbank), Borders (Lauderdale & Tweedglen) & Craigalmond (Pink Panthers) successfully completed their DofE Silver Qualifying Expedition on 11th to 13th June. Perfect weather, superb views, fantastic teamwork and the joy of being out there and being able to camp again all added to a great experience for everyone. Many thanks to the 9 leaders on the hill and 6 other leaders making sure all logistics were in place. Special thanks to Janet Paterson for being Leader in Charge.

 

Expedition 2

20 Explorers and Networkers successfully completed their DofE silver qualifying/gold practice in the Trossachs on 18th to 20th June. Their Units and Districts – Greenbank (Braid), Craigalmond (Cramond and Pink Panthers), East Lothian (East Linton) and Midlothian (Gorebridge) can be very proud of them as they overcame some challenging terrain, wet weather on Saturday and 2 nights of midge fest camps to achieve this great feat. Excellent teamwork, collaboration, persistence and a great sense of humour, as well as appreciating the great outdoors, were all evidenced by the participants. Many thanks to the 8 leaders on the expedition and another 6 supporting making sure the expedition ran. Special thanks also to Neil Wotherspoon for being Leader in Charge.

 

Expedition 3

20 Explorers and Networkers from Craigalmond, Midlothian and Braid successfully completed the third DofE silver qualifying/gold practice in the Borders on 25th to 27th June. Following an initial bright day which saw the three groups commence their expedition including a traverse through a very dark and creepy Neidpath Castle tunnel, they had to endure a cold and wet second day navigating over complex terrain with very limited visibility followed by camp at a beautiful, midge infested, campsite on the edge of a Loch, capped off with a bright and warm final day trek. Many thanks to the 8 leaders on the expedition and another 5 supporting plus special thanks to Hector Black for being Leader in Charge.

 

Well done to all involved – a magnificent effort. Now a short rest before the Gold Expeditions in August and September.

31st Pentland Grow with new Beaver Section

31st Pentland Grow with new Beaver Section

As a relatively new Group Scout Leader at 31st Pentland I am delighted to report that we have managed to ‘buck the trend’ of declining numbers and let you know that we have not only managed to start up a second Beaver Colony, but also boost our numbers of leaders.

We have managed to recruit the following adult volunteers to our team: –

  • Paul Bluefield (Section Assistant, Tuesday Cubs)
  • Donald John Morrison (Assistant Beaver Scout Leader, Wednesday Beavers)
  • Hazel McCormack (Assistant Beaver Scout Leader, Wednesday Beavers)
  • Millie Addison (Assistant Beaver Scout Leader, Wednesday Beavers – former YL)
  • Kenny Milton (Beaver Scout Leader, Thursday Beavers)
  • Chris Laing (Assistant Beaver Scout Leader, Thursday Beavers)

So please join me in welcoming all these new adults who have stepped up to help us continue to run our existing sections and set up our new Beaver colony.

Our set up at 31st was 1 Beaver Colony, 2 Cub Packs and 1 Scout section.  We were aware that we had a bit of a hefty waiting list, but we did not have visibility of it until Mary Dick (Cub Scout Leader, Monday) created a joining list on OSM.  Once that was set up and we had visibility, I was a bit concerned at just how many youngsters we had waiting for Beavers and often, they would remain there until a space became available at Cubs and by then, they had often lost interest in Scouting.

I reached out to our Exec Chair to see if we had capacity to set up an additional Beaver Colony and emailed out to all parents on the waiting list to see if there were any possible leaders willing to take it on.

Fortunately, two parents stepped up (Kenny and Chris), a new Young Leader came forward (Katie Dew). and we had some availability in the hall on a Thursday evening.   In addition, Elaine Mason and Millie Addison agreed we could ‘crib’ the Wednesday Beaver programme, and they volunteered to lead our new section between them to get us started.  So, on a very rainy 20th May, we welcomed 8 new Beavers to go Pond Dipping led by Millie with myself, Kenny, Chris, and Katie supporting.  The following week, we were up to 11, and by the 3rd of June we were up to 13!

We have run a variety of programmes, with Elaine, Millie or me taking the lead.  Feedback from Beavers and parents has been incredibly supportive and positive, and I constantly have a wee smile on my face at how everyone in 31st has pulled together to get this new section up and running.  After the summer holidays, we may have an additional two Assistant Beaver Scout Leaders joining our Thursday team to allow me to step back from being so actively involved, and we have offered out 4 additional spaces all of which have been accepted.  We plan a joint Wednesday and Thursday summer planning session taking into account feedback from the Log Chews held with our Beavers prior to end of term.

It just remains for me to say a huge thank to the whole leadership team at 31st for their welcome and support since I started back in September 2020.  I have been so impressed with the whole team have ensuring that our young people have experienced no gaps in their Scouting throughout the pandemic.

 

In addition, Mark Gordon (ADC Beavers), Keith Bryce (Pentland DC) and Martin Elliot (SES Regional Commissioner) all braved an incredibly rainy Thursday evening on 24th June to help provide the Thursday Beavers and their families a fun activities evening, a sausage sizzle, and an absolutely epic water fight.  It seems that the Beavers, parents, and Young Leader assumed the adult leadership team were the fairest game of all – soaked doesn’t begin to describe how wet we ended up!  Huge thanks to Mark, Keith, and Martin for being brilliant volunteers and tremendous sports.

Aileen Deas
GSL 31st Pentland

Adult Training July 2021 Update

Adult Training July 2021 Update

So far this year a massive 480 leaders have taken part in training courses over Zoom, and that’s not including the numerous First Response sessions.    The next stage is validation, and the Leaders’ Training Guide will let you know what needs to be done for each module.  The current version isn’t quite up to date for Getting Started, and module 6 is still in there, but it’s generally correct and due to be updated very soon.   Check what you need and gather your evidence together.  The evidence will usually be a natural by-product of the validation activity, and the validation activity should be something you naturally do as part of your role.  Depending on which module it is, your evidence could be detailed plans for an activity, the risk assessment, photos of the young people doing the activity, an email from GSL or another witness commenting on how it went, notes of your review after the activity etc.   Make sure you check how many validation activities are required, sometimes it’s 2 or 3 from a list of possibilities.

When your evidence is organised contact your Training Adviser to arrange to meet (online if necessary) to review it. If you don’t know who your TA is, ask your ADC (AT) who will be happy to help.  Keep hold of your evidence because a quality assurance process means a sample of Wood Badge nominations will be selected and evidence for some modules reviewed before the Wood Badge is processed.

The District Commissioners have requested that we run some courses over the summer so if you have some learning gaps have a look at the calendar here to see what’s on offer.  The calendar has the links to the Eventbrite booking system where you register your details.  If you’re keen, within Eventbrite you can choose to follow the South East Scotland Scouts Training Team to identify all the courses on offer. Please note that if you register on the Reserve list for any course there isn’t a guarantee a place will be available, it’s just so other people can be offered a place if there are cancellations.   If your plans change you can also cancel in Eventbrite and release the place to someone else.

For the Managers and Supporters out there, Scouts Scotland have just announced some training dates for the Skills courses.   Full details of the courses and dates, and the application process are available from Scouts Scotland on this link.  They tend to be booked up very quickly, so please try to get in quickly.  Please remember the relevant Independent Learning MUST be completed before the Skills course – if you need more information on that please contact your Training Adviser (M&S) or ADC (AT).   Please also let me know if you book a place as I will eventually get the bill and need to know how much we should be paying!

Whether you progress your training, go to camp or have a complete break from Scouting – have a great summer and stay safe.

Mary Dick
ARC Adult Training
training@sesscouts.org.uk 

Longcraig Scout Centre Update July 2021

Longcraig Scout Centre Update July 2021

Longcraig in the press again!

Last Friday, 25th June, the Flying Scotsman steam engine hauled a trainload of railway enthusiasts and trippers from Edinburgh across the Forth Bridge, to a circular tour of Fie and then back to Edinburgh. Three trips were operated, and as you would imagine, stream trains, and especially The Flying Scotsman, attract a huge amount of publicity, photographers, and the like on their journeys.

Inevitably, many of the passengers would get a great view of Longcraig from their trip across the bridge, and equally inevitably, a number of photo opportunities also included glimpses of our Centre nestled close to the Forth Bridge.

Re-opening in 2021 – Latest update

The relaxation of the lockdown rules continues, although painfully slowly and at times to extended dates, which is often very frustrating for planning purposes.

We’ve done a lot of tidying up and making things ready, and have now moved on to a focus on our instructors and ASU members and our new volunteers who came along this year – yes, they’re all a bit rusty too, so we have made a decision a while back that we need to focus our initial energies and development time on these guys first, so that when the time comes to welcome Scouts back onto the water and doing stuff, we will have a team of people who are familiarised and back up to speed with how to drive a boat!

Other Activity Opportunities

But this is a further reminder that not all of Water Activities have to take place at Longcraig, and although there are rules we need to follow as regards the full re-opening of the Centre, there are numerous possibilities where we may be able to help scouts take part in water activities. These could be at your camps or events – if you are planning to have one of those – or it could be simply an evening or day activity somewhere. We can bring boats and equipment and the expertise; you can help us find your favourite spot to do these things.

Alternatively, for those who have the necessary experience and appropriate skills, we can hire out most of our equipment for your own use either as smaller groups of scouts or even for family use, which can still enable some young people to experience the fun and adventure out on the water.

If this is something you are interested in, please use our contact e-mail at getinvolved@longcraig.info to make enquiries.

Longcraig Team supports Melrose Scouts

A few weeks ago, a small team from the Longcraig ASU headed down to Melrose to take advantage of the relatively safe and quiet waters on a stretch of the River Tweed. The Scouts engaged in a raft building activity on the banks of the river, then tentatively launched their home-made rafts into the river and enjoyed further competition time – not just to see which was the best and fastest raft, but also top determine which one stayed together the longest – a testimony to the quality of knots and lashings created by the Scouts!

We have further activity sessions planned or in the planning during the coming months, so if this is of interest, please get in touch and find out what we can do to support you.

Building refurbishment

The planned building improvements for Longcraig, which involve modernising toilets, showers and changing facilities, is still going ahead. Just not right now! A number of things have all come together to make our planned facility upgrade take place in the autumn of 2022, rather than towards the end of this year as we had hoped. The two main things which influence this are:

  1. Most building contractors seem to be overloaded with work at the moment, some of this due to COVID restrictions means many more home owners are getting home improvements done, and the virus restrictions has made a lot of work more difficult to carry out.
  2. The costs of most building materials has gone through the roof in recent months – again this is a COVID related issue, caused by shortages of key materials, difficulties in the transportation of material, and the increase in building jobs going on around the country. So, we’ve had to re-ascertain the scope of our work, which may also include seeking and securing addition external funding to match up the funds already committed to from the Regional Executive.

So, summer 2022 will see the same Longcraig as before, so book ahead now to have your last opportunity to make use of the existing facilities in 2022, before we dismantle and rebuild over the winter of 2022 to have our shiny new facility up and running for Spring 2023. We’ll arrange a ‘Farewell Old Toilets’ party at the end of our 2022 season!!

Ian Harrower
Longcraig Active Support Unit