Auchindrain

Auchindrain

Auchindrain – the field of the blackthorn tree. Who could imagine that a group of 10 – 15-year-olds would be demanding that the Auchindrain camp stays firmly fixed on the 14th Midlothian (Bonnyrigg) Scouts calendar?

After eight years this is still one of the most popular camps – it has to happen in May on the Victoria holiday weekend because it is such a long way from home, and the only way to get there is by mini bus, there are no local trains and the bus journey to Oban and on to Inveraray would take the whole day.

Auchindrain is the most complete Highland farm township in Scotland.  It survived the Highland Clearances and has now become a category A listed building. Although building is the wrong term as there are a number of buildings and more being discovered each year. Bonnyrigg Scouts have been privileged to be a part of this. The Township lies approximately six miles south of Inveraray in Argyll It is typical of settlements of its kind 200 years ago.

Eight years ago following a random conversation between the Scout Leader and the handyman at the site Bonnyrigg Scouts were invited to camp and experience life in the Township as part of what was then the local history badge, they duly turned up and pitched camp, met the curator and learned the Gaelic equivalent of their names and what they meant, they worked all day Saturday on the site helping to remove old fencing and make the site secure for the heritage sheep that were to be moving in, they planted 1000 tiny tree seedlings on the edge of the forestry commission plantation and tried keeping the peat fire going in one of the old dwellings. On the Saturday night they met a local Free Church minister who led a traditional Highland service of sung psalms and read from a Gaelic bible – a new experience for everyone! Scouts explored the local hills and woods on a hike on the Sunday and finished their visit with a trip to Inveraray jail, luckily no one got locked up.

This started a tradition of visits with Scouts learning skills such as waulking the cloth with the weaving group, making butter in traditional churns, cooking on the peat fires, whitewashing walls, stone harvesting the tattie field, joining in games of shinty, looking after the rare-breed hens, exposing former access tracks and paths within the site, forming drainage ditches and helping Cathy build a traditional travellers’ “tent” from willow and canvas. This year the Scouts were able to take part in the digit2017 project managed by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. This involved the continued excavation of work begun in 2017 to excavate and unravel the story of Building T – until last summer a completely unknown building. The Scouts explored the infill of the building scraping back the weeds and soil to expose the original floor, retrieved small finds which included boots, teapots, broken china and a various glass bottles. The Scouts also helped to rebuild the original walls using the stone pushed or fallen into the building, learning how to drystone and, in the process, why not to climb on drystone dykes! The finds were washed and catalogued ready to be included in the inventory of Auchindrain.

The weekend is not all work however and between times the Scouts were taught how traditional dyes were made for woollen clothing, how to card tease and spin wool, they learnt a number of weaving techniques and how to make felt. Cooking and eating of traditional foods was a firm favourite – what a difference having to cook on an open peat fire on a griddle! They weren’t keen on a totally traditional menu though the idea of sliced cold porridge for breakfast and lunch wasn’t well received so instead we cooked Orkney bannocks, fish cakes, drop scones and flatbreads, topped with butter churned in large kilner jars YUM! Meals were based on the food that would have been available to the residents at Auchindrain although we ate more protein in one weekend than they would have shared in a month between all the families!

On Saturday night a traditional Ceilidh was held in the Barn with a little bit of dancing and plenty of singing with guitar and piano accordion, historically this would have been when the local news was shared by travellers moving from one place to another selling, fixing and exchanging tools, special foods or other items.  At night groups of Scouts took it in turn sleeping on the old cot beds in Martin’s house – although they used sleeping mats and sleeping bags rather than the straw paillasses and scratchy woollen blankets, and torches rather than candles and oil lamps.

During our time at Auchindrain this year the Scouts also contributed to a series of blogs following their experiences at the site and detailing the things they found in their archaeological dig contributing to the year of Young People Visit Scotland initiative and their public relations badge work.

Traditionally at Auchindrain the group calls in to another visitor attraction in the local town and delights in the offerings of the wee sweetie shop where cremola foam, candy stick ”cigarettes”, gold bullion gum and giant gobstoppers can still be found, fortunately for the leaders Inveraray also hosts a very nice tearoom with homemade cakes! On the return journey we have made a further tradition of calling into a visitor attraction that shows a totally different lifestyle to the township, in the past we have visited the jail and Inveraray Castle (where a great number of the people from the township went to work as servants and agricultural labourers), Stirling Castle and Doune Castle where the recent television series of Outlander has been filmed, and made famous by the Monty Python film “Holy Grail”.

By the end of the Auchindrain weekend the Scouts are able to gain their local knowledge badge (history) and have carried out site service as part of the outdoors challenge but they have learnt far more about the hardships and the lives of Scots ancestors, changes to lifestyles that have occurred in the relatively recent past, they have cooked traditional meals and learnt traditional skills. Over the years that we have been going to this camp, the Scout Group have made a tremendous contribution to the museum, carrying out work which there would not be time for in the general running of the site. Visitors to the site have been impressed by the attitude and work of the Scouts and many have commented on the help the Scouts have given them in understanding the history of the site.

We look forward to the new things we will be learning next May!

Erika Pryde, Group Scout Leader, 14th Midlothian (Bonnyrigg)

For more information

Regional Explorer Camp 14-16 Sep

Regional Explorer Camp 14-16 Sep

Camp includes M&D’s Theme Park

The camp is for Explorers and Young Leaders from all Districts in our Region, even if their leader(s) cannot attend. It will take place from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 September 2018.  This is a holiday weekend in most areas. Details of the full camp programme are being decided by Explorers and Leaders.

Outline details

  • At The Barrwood Campsite, Forth Region – highly recommended by those who have visited it
  • Saturday visit to M&D’s Theme Park, Motherwell
  • Fri evening, Sat evening and Sunday offer many activities on site
  • Water activities on Sunday morning
  • Chance to bivvy out overnight, counting for Zodiac Award
  • Cost £40 per head
  • You can still join in, but let us know as soon as possible.
  • Ideas still welcome
  • Contact John Buchanan explorers@sesscouts.org.uk

This is a chance to meet Explorers from other part of the Region and have fun.

 

Diane Ross MBE

Diane Ross MBE

Congratulations to Diane Ross on being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of her service to Scouting and to the community in Edinburgh.

Diane was a Leader for the Cub Scout 80th Birthday item in the Edinburgh Gang Show 1996, was instrumental in the organisation and running of the Junior Gang when it was established in 1997 and remains an ardent Gang Show supporter.

Her leadership and commitment to Gang Show, as well as many other responsibilities in Scouting, is inspirational. Thank you Diane for your service and here’s to many more years of Scouting fun!

From the Gang Show Facebook page

Environmental project for Explorers

Environmental project for Explorers

Take part in an international study

Looking for a programme idea?  Your Explorer Unit could take part in a study of environmental attitudes and behaviour, run by Athina Georgiou Shippi, a PhD student at Edinburgh University.  She will visit your Explorer Unit and get the Explorers “to join in a number of activities which are both fun and interesting as well as providing me with data. Thus, you could support this study by allowing me to carry out these activities, ideally within a normal meeting. Please note that all information collected during the activities will remain anonymous.”

Athina has already started her visiting and the project is scheduled to run between June and October.

Two documents are attached, one for leaders, and one for Explorers.  For further details, please contact Athina using e-mail: S1226472@sms.ed.ac.uk .

Volunteering at The Tattoo 2018

Volunteering at The Tattoo 2018

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is the most spectacular show in the world, enjoyed by an international television audience of 100 million.  But there’s no substitute for being there, as part of the 217,000-strong audience over its three-week season at Edinburgh Castle. As a member of Scouting you can become part of it.Continue Reading Volunteering at The Tattoo 2018

Fraser gets QSA at Windsor

Fraser gets QSA at Windsor

Chief Scout Bear Grylls recognises 300 young people as Scouting’s top achievers

Fraser Dunmore of Craigalmond was one of 300 Queen’s Scouts being honoured by international adventurer Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, at Windsor Castle for gaining their Queen’s Scouts Awards on Sunday 22 April.  Bear was joined by Princess Beatrice of York.

The Queen’s Scout Award is the highest honour in Scouting and is awarded for outstanding personal achievement.  This honour is achieved by young people aged between 16 and 25 who have completed a range of challenges, including service to their community, completing an expedition in wild country, undertaking a five-day residential project in an unfamiliar environment and learning a new skill or developing an existing talent.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls said:

During their time Scouting, all these young people have worked incredibly hard to learn new skills and achieve their Queen’s Scout Award and I am so full of admiration for their spirit, grit and determination.  They have served their community, led others and undertaken expeditions in the UK and around the world. As Queen’s Scouts, they are leading lights and an inspiration to over half a million Scouts in the UK and I am so pleased that Scouting has honoured them today. I am just so proud of all they have achieved.

Fraser says of his Award:

I really enjoyed completing my Queen’s Scout Award as it got me to really challenge myself. It really pushed me to do more for the community and inspire others to do the same! I would totally recommend anyone to complete the award.

Going down to Windsor was an experience I will never forget! Everyone was really kind and we were all there as we have all overcome some great challenges. It was amazing to hear all about other people’s experience while completing their award. It was really special to have talks from Bear Grylls and was even more amazing that they managed to get a video of Obama saying congratulations to all of us. The day was really hot and everyone was getting dehydrated but the QSWP looked after us all so well. My favourite part was getting a selfie with Bear Grylls! I would totally recommend anyone to complete the award so they can get the opportunity to go down to Windsor Castle too!

Queen's Scout Award badge

Queen’s Scout Award

 

Presentations at Windsor

The annual Windsor Castle event has been held regularly since 1934 on the Sunday nearest to St George’s Day (23 April).  St George is the Patron Saint of Scouting. Since the Queen’s Scout Award was instigated, over 100,000 of these awards have been presented to young men and women for outstanding personal achievements and service to their local communities.  They have learnt new skills and taken part in many of the 200 different activities on offer by Scouting across the UK.

The Queen's Scout Award

The Queen’s Scout Award is achieved by completing the following requirements:

  • Providing service to the community for 12 months. Briefing and training should be given in order to gain the necessary skills.
  • Learning a new skill for 12 months, and show progress and lasting interest. The skill can be the development of an existing interest or something entirely new.
  • Completing a four-day and three-night expedition in open or adventurous country by foot, cycle, horse, canoe, boat or dinghy. The expedition should involve careful preparation, training, responsibility and review demonstrating leadership and teamwork skills
  • Completing a five-day and four-night residential project in an unfamiliar environment with people who are not known. This project should be environmental work, activity based, service to others or personal training
  • Completing 18 nights away, of which 12 must be camping.
  • Making a presentation, to a suitable audience, of your achievements so far in working towards the Queen’s Scout Award.

The Award is for Explorers aged 16 and over and Network members.  It must be completed by the age of 25.  It is essential to register for the Award.  See details on Scouts UK site.