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

Borders Brass Monkeys are 50

Borders Brass Monkeys are 50

On Saturday 27 January 100 Scouts and Young Leaders arrived at Kelso racecourse ready for the Brass Monkey camp, and to celebrate 50 years since these started in the Borders.

An early leader catches up on what he started.

One of the early leaders

In 1968 Jack Robb, the DC of Roxburghshire, decided to run a one-night camp to challenge the Scouts. He decided to code-name it the Brass Monkey camp. The first one was held in Scotchkershope and had around 45 Scouts in attendance.  The camp was a huge success and very quickly over the next few years attracted Scouts not just from the Borders but from all over Scotland, England and even Wales. Local Scouter Bill Watt got involved from the early camps and recently Marion Macintosh, one of the Borders ADCs, had the great pleasure of visiting him and letting him know how it is still running and showed him the trophy we use. He remembers one camp where it was so cold they had to go to the local ironmongers to get large iron nails instead of pegs! Bill still has his original neckie! He is very pleased to hear that we still keep the book going too!

The largest camp had over 400 in attendance.  Every participant that attended was awarded their Brass Monkey neckie and later a badge.  One camp in the 80s is noted as being so cold that the calor gas bottles froze overnight!. The Scouts were unable to take up their tent pegs due to the frozen ground and when the camp returned to this site in 2009 tent pegs were found!  The venue for the Brass Monkey  camp changed every year. One of the traditions that started early on is that the participants were all asked to sign the Brass Monkey book. This tradition is still on-going and it’s great to be able to look back over the years at the history of the camp.

In 1984 a trophy was presented as a gift from a Scout group in Wales. It was to be awarded to someone that had contributed to the running of the camp. This trophy is a Brass Monkey in a kilt. It was first awarded to Jack Robb and it is still awarded today. In the past there were also pottery mugs and pottery woggles!

Bubble football at KelsoThis year’s camp took place at Kelso racecourse where the Scouts camped on the side of the racecourse. They had an afternoon of activities, a mixture of fun, adventurous activities and Scouting skills, including, for the first time, axe throwing. They were also treated to bubble football at Kelso High School where the main concern was that the Scouts might actually take off in the wind!  The evening activities included Zumba and a movie with the Sunday morning seeing all the participants take part in an ‘urban-eering’ course around Kelso.  The Young Leaders at the camp were given the opportunity to work with the ESL (YL) on their Young Leader missions and modules, too.  The weather, whilst not as cold as the previous weekend’s snow, was windy and, in true Scottish fashion, a bit dreich.  The Scouts and the leader team all had a great camp and are looking forward to next year’s camp.

Happy 50th to the Borders Brass Monkey camps!

Cheryl Turpie ADC

Gang Show auditions

Gang Show auditions

Edinburgh Gang Show 2018

King’s Theatre – Tue 20 to Sat 24 November 2018

Audition Information for Scouting

The Edinburgh Gang Show is a major theatre production and has been staged annually at the King’s Theatre since 1960. The cast is made entirely of members of Scouting and Girlguiding and is supported behind the scenes by many adult volunteers. Being part of the Gang Show is great fun but hard work and a high level of commitment to the show is expected.

Auditions for Main Gang
Scouts, Explorer Scouts and Scout Network from South East Scotland Scouts
  • Sunday 13 May 2018
  • 1.45 – 6.00pm
  • St Anne’s Parish Church, Kaimes Road, Edinburgh
Boys
  • 1.45 – 3.00pm             All boys aged 10 years & over (by the Dress rehearsal on 19/11/18)
Girls
  • 2.45 – 4.00pm             Girls aged 12 years & over (by the Dress rehearsal on 19/11/18)
  • 3.45 – 5.00pm             Girls aged 11 years (by the Dress rehearsal on 19/11/18)
  • 4.45 – 6.00pm             Girls aged 10 years (by the Dress rehearsal on 19/11/18)
Membership of Main Gang

All individuals who wish to audition for Main Gang must be at least 10 years old at the date of the Dress Rehearsal (19/11/18) and an active member of a Guide Unit or Scout Group at that date. In addition, all who audition for Main Gang must also be an active member of the Guide and Scout Association at the date of the audition (a date which varies from year to year but this year is 13/05/18).

Older Brownies and Cubs at the date of the audition may become members of the Main Gang provided they meet the age and membership criteria by the date of the Dress Rehearsal.

Results of the auditions will be advised on the day.

If successful, further auditions for song, dance and sketches will take place in June with rehearsals commencing for Main Gang in late August. With the exception of a couple of dates, rehearsals will be held every Sunday from then through to show week. Cast members are expected to attend regularly and show a high level of commitment to the show.

After the auditions, a rehearsal schedule and a Registration Form (to be signed by a Section Leader) will be issued to those who have been successful, along with other information.

To aid with registration on the day please complete the Audition Form in advance and bring to the audition along with the Activity Information Form.

Further information available by e-mailing edingangshow@hotmail.co.uk.

Auditions for Junior Gang
Cub Scouts from South East Scotland Scouts
  • Sunday 27 May 2018
  • St Anne’s Parish Church, Kaimes Road, Edinburgh
Boys and girls aged 8 years by the auditions on 27/05/18
  • 4.00 – 5.15pm

Note: Cubs do all performances.

Cubs must be at least 8 and a member of a Cub Pack at the date of the audition (a date which varies from year to year but this year is 27/05/18). As a member of Junior Gang, they must remain with their Pack until after the show week.

Cubs will be told the results of the auditions on the day. If successful, rehearsals will commence for Junior Gang in September.

After the auditions, a schedule of rehearsal dates and a Registration Form (to be signed by a Section Leader) will be issued to those who have been successful, along with other information.

To aid with registration on the day please complete the Audition Form in advance and bring to the audition along with the Activity Information Form.

Further information available by e-mailing edingangshow@hotmail.co.uk.

Braid in Denmark 2017

Braid in Denmark 2017

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.

 

Group on the ferry

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.

Aerial photo of the site

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.

Scouts back from hike

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.

Liftin car with pioneering poles

Lifting car

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.

Racing chariot made of poles

Chariot race

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.

Food preparation

Preparing food

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.”

Group in boat

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.”

Scottish and Danish Scouts together

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.

Group in Amsterdam

Exploring 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.

James Sievewright, expedition leader