Training Update April 2021

Training Update April 2021

Well, we’re at amber now and with the clocks having changed, your evening section meetings are at least going to start in daylight.  Things are definitely improving!

We still can’t run face-to-face training sessions, but the training team will continue to offer courses on Zoom as we have done since May last year.  When we can, we’ll reintroduce traditional face-to-face sessions and will continue to offer Zoom as several people find it useful not to have to leave home for training, whether because of childcare considerations or the logistics / time needed for travel to the training venue.  For people who can’t always predict when they may be free, several modules can be done independently via either e-learning or workbooks, all on the UK Scout website.  Details of the modules and links to the online learning resources are all on .  The Region’s calendar will continue to be updated over the next few weeks, so keep your eye on it.

Don’t forget that after the learning is completed (whether by a Zoom course, a face-to-face session, e-learning, workbook, Young Leader training, or your Training Adviser has agreed you have previous experience) you then need to demonstrate your knowledge and ability.  This is referred to as validation, and is effectively putting the learning into practise in your role as an adult leader.  There are no exceptions to this, it’s all about the LOVE (Learning Optional, Validation Essential).  Details of the validation requirements for each module are in the Leader’s Training Guide from SHQ.  There’s also a validation guide with some good suggestions for validation when restricted to online meetings, so no excuses! Managers shouldn’t feel left out, their (extremely useful!) training guide is at .

Remember that the Wood Badge should be completed within 3 years of the appointment start date – if you manage to tick off 2 or 3 modules per term it will be no problem.  If you’ve already been in role for over 3 years you really need to plan how you’ll catch up before the end of September this year.  Contact your ADC (Adult Training) or your Training Adviser if you’re not sure what’s needed.

Mary Dick
ARC (Adult Training)

Bonaly Scout Centre Update April 2021

Bonaly is back open – again!


We are delighted to announce that Bonaly Scout Centre’s grounds can be used to meet-up again for Scouting activities.

We will be open for evening visits on Fridays 18:00 – 21:30 (Leaders 17:30 – 22:00), and for weekend day visits Saturdays & Sundays 10:00 – 16:00 (Leaders 09:30 – 16:30). For evening visits, mid-week or extended weekend days, please email for availability.  

Under Amber status, group sizes will be limited to 15 including leaders with the number of groups also being restricted so we are COVID secure. Each group will be allocated their own zone and toilet facility. Arrival and departure times may need to be staggered to avoid too many people in the car-parks at the same time. 

For more information or to arrange a visit, please email or use our online booking inquiry form . 

There has been a lot going on at Bonaly this last month.

  • We now have new front gates which will help with security and look so much better than the rusty old ones.
  • The Druim field now has a new access road and turning circle, so transporting kit will be a lot easier for Leaders.
  • New drainage pipes and channels have been installed to dry out the Backwoods cooking area and the top of the Druim…it’s amazing just how much water is now running away!
  • The Druim is also getting two new shelters later in the year and foundations have been laid.
  • More CCTV cameras have been installed and we now have cover for the car parks, main field, Chalet and garage compound.
  • The Chalet refurbishment continues with old beds, sinks and carpets being removed, and the external toilet has been upgraded to an accessible facility.
  • And, sixty tonnes of gravel have been laid in the carpark…so no more potholes and muddy puddles!

Can we say a big thank you to all the leaders who attended our activity development workshop on the 23rd of March – lots of great suggestions and ideas were generated which we will take into consideration as we develop our “Modern Traditional Programme” of activities.  More details to follow next month.

Mark Campbell

Virtual Really Big Camp 2021

Virtual Really Big Camp 2021

Following on from our first, very successful, virtual Really Big Camp in May 2020, Craigalmond District ran VRBC21 over the weekend of 26th – 28th March with over 400 participants taking part from all sections and groups in the District. We ran the camp as an Event on the Craigalmond District Facebook page and asked our participants to share photos throughout the camp using #vrbc21.

There was a full programme of events in which we tried to replicate some of the familiar aspects of a more ‘normal’ camp. The theme for our camp was ‘Hope’ and we tried to reflect this in several of our activities.

Some participants camped outdoors whilst many pitched their tents inside or built blanket forts. There were even some brave enough to spend the (cold and windy) weekend in hammocks! Many took part as families with siblings and parents camping out too.

Proceedings kicked off with a welcome video from our District Commissioner, Mark Hesketh which was followed by two magic shows watched by 177 Beavers and Cubs; whilst the Scouts and Explorers took part in an interactive online gaming session.

On Saturday morning, after some rise and shine morning exercises we had a Facebook live cook along session, hosted by our resident chef Mark Petrie, where we prepared a yummy breakfast skillet. It was great to see members of all ages taking part, some even cooking outdoors on fire.

Especially for the weekend, we designed four activity walks throughout the district; two Nature walks (at Corstorphine Hill and Dundas Estate) and two walks focussed on Local knowledge (in Corstorphine Village and Stockbridge/ Water of Leith.) For each walk we designed a pack which explained the route, activities to complete along the way and related badgework. Our families really seemed to enjoy getting out and about and exploring places new to them.

On Saturday evening we had a campfire in which each group was invited to contribute a song; this was followed by an adult member’s social event including a quiz. We were joined by Martin Elliot (Regional Commissioner) whose team eventually prevailed over the District Commissioner’s following a hard-fought game of Rock/ Paper/ Scissors! It was great opportunity for leaders from throughout the district to interact socially as they would normally do at camp.

On Sunday morning, as is traditional at camp, we had a Scouts Own. Martin Elliot created a thought-provoking video which was followed by Explorer Scout Callum sharing his thoughts on the Scout Promise. Participants were asked to write and share Haikus around the theme ‘Hope for the future’. Here is one of my favourites:

Face-to-face Scouting –

Light at end of the tunnel?

REAL big camp next year!


Over the course of the weekend, we also issued a team challenge to groups (or families) to create a message of hope to be shared with the district. We asked individuals to contribute to part of a larger group (team) message and some groups came up with wonderful videos passing on their hopes for the future.

On Sunday afternoon our camp was brought to a close by our Scottish Commissioner, Sharkey who said how much he had enjoyed watching our camp and thanked all our members for a successful year despite the challenges faced.

Jackie Gibson

Scout of the World Award Success

Scout of the World Award Success

South East Scotland Scouts would like to congratulate Fraser Dunmore of Craigalmond District who has been awarded the Scout of the World Award (SOWA).

This is Fraser’s story of how he achieved the award:

“SOWA is an international Scout award for network members aged 18-25 years old. You must attend a 2-day discovery weekend and then complete a SOWA voluntary project (80 hours) based on one or more of the three themes (Peace, Environment and Sustainable Development)

I attended the Discovery Weekend in May 2020 over zoom. I decided to base my project on Corstorphine Hill pushing back the progress of a non-native, invasive species called Salmonberry. My theme was Environment and Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals were:

  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities 
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 15: Life on Land

Salmonberry is originally from North America and was brought over 100 years ago and it has managed to get out of control and move into our local woodlands. Salmonberry is a shrub growing to 1–4 meters tall with a woody stem that is covered with fine prickles. 

Salmonberry is now a huge problem for us in Scotland. Salmonberry is an important component of the ecosystem in its native habitat; it provides food for a number of mammals, birds and invertebrates. However, it forms dense stands that exclude other vegetation, it can invade grassland and the shrub layer of woodland and compete with conifer seedlings in regenerating woodland. If it is not cut back and its growth controlled it can destroy a woodlands biodiversity. It spreads through its underground route system and from its berry’s. You can only chop it down during September – February due to the bird nesting season. The project is important because if we just leave it then it will grow all over the woodland and take out all the native undergrowth. 

I wanted to do this project as I spend a lot of time up Corstorphine Hill and have spent all my life exploring and learning about the woods. I am also a big believer that people should look after their own local woodlands.

At the start of my project, I mapped out the area, got groups signed up to support, did a lot of Risk Assessments and had discussions with the council. I got the first groups involved in weekend evets in the December. It was great to have groups of young people and adults up as we were able to clear large areas at once. When the second lockdown came in, I had to go up more on my own or with one other person at a time. While I was up there, I spent a lot of time talking to walkers who were always interested in finding out what I was doing. 

Sadly, due to Covid we had to cancel all the groups that were planning to come up in January and February but I plan to get them up next year. 

The end results were amazing; a massive chunk of Salmonberry has been removed from Corstorphine Hill allowing native plants and trees to grow; more young people and adults are aware of the invasive plants; people have given me their contact details for them to get involved in similar projects in the future and people have seen the work Scouting have done and decided to do some clearance themselves.

The Project is Sustainable because the piles of Salmonberry have become a new habitat for nesting birds, mice and loads of bugs; native plants and trees are now growing without getting destroyed by Salmonberry and we have stopped the development of the invasive plant on Corstorphine Hill. 

In total we had over 420 labour hours logged by young people and adults and I personally undertook 88 hours of work.

I am very proud to have achieved the Scout of the World Award and I would like to thank my mentor, Marcus, for all of his help and support and that of the SOWA Training Team”

Longcraig Scout Centre Update April 2021

Longcraig Scout Centre Update April 2021

Spring has now started to arrive down by the sea!

Facilities upgrade – Update

The great news is that we eventually got our Building Warrant approved in early March.

The not so good news is that this means we have had to take the decision to delay the start of building works until the autumn; after a year of COVID lockdown and closure we couldn’t risk having building work going on when there is even a remote possibility of us being able to open up and provide activities and fun on the water. (See below).

In some ways this is a great disappointment, but in other ways, it enables us to deal with some features of the Building Warrant approval, and to fold that in to the designs and tenders that we have on the table. This will take a little bit of work over the spring and summer but it means that we will be in a good position to hit the ground running in the autumn and have our building work carried out during our (completely) closed season. We’ll continue to keep you updated over the coming months on our progress!


Although the Centre itself has been closed due to the pandemic, the activities behind the scenes has been much more hectic!

Longcraig supported a Virtual Recruitment Event online at the beginning of March, and a very good number of people tuned in to see what volunteering at Longcraig was about. We’ve now followed up with all of these new faces/names, and have meetings scheduled with them over the next few weeks so we can start to integrate them into the ASU.

It’s not too late, if you missed any of the events earlier – to come and see yourself what might be involved. It doesn’t even have to involve being in or on the water – we have loads of opportunities for people who don’t like the water, to help with the running of both land activities and the running of a busy bustling activity centre.

Please get in touch if you would like a quick chat through what’s available – send an e-mail to to get started. You would then join in with the other new folks during this year to take the various steps needed to get involved in a more practical sense.

We’d like to thank the Scouting Support Officer for the Region – Mike Treanor – for his invaluable help in getting the event together and helping to make it all work. Thanks Mike!

RE-OPENING in 2021

As you will all be aware, Scouting is still very much in Lockdown as you read this, and although there are a number of theories about when Scouting will be able to return to some normality, we at Longcraig have exactly the same questions and uncertainties!

We are however considerably more hopeful that we will be back to offering some activities on the water this year, hopefully while the sun shines! The timings are still unclear, so we’ve not yet opened our Bookings Forms, and the scope of any activities we are able to offer may be a bit different from what we have come to expect in the recent 50 years or so.

But we are hopeful of signs of recovery, and will of course continue to update everyone through this regular newsletter and on our Longcraig website as soon as it becomes clearer what we are permitted to do – this is what we hope to see again one day soon!


It is possible to hire some of our equipment that we have at Longcraig for your own Group for local activities, or even for family use by people who have the appropriate skills and expertise. If this is something you are interested in, please use our contact e-mail at to make enquiries.

Ian Harrower
Longcraig ASU

Scouting in South East Scotland

Scouting in South East Scotland

From North Berwick to the World – Connecting the globe in lock-down

Doing Scouting in lock-down was always going to be a challenge. So much of scouting is about the outdoors and adventure, having fun together outside; the antithesis of home schooling and social distancing. At 1st North Berwick Bear Cubs, we were determined to do something, and so, with some apprehension, we gave ZOOM a go.

Initial efforts were worthwhile but ultimately second-rate substitutes for the real thing. Our sessions tended to be quite didactic. Inspiring slide shows about travel or sailing stimulated some good discussion, but ultimately reminded us of what we were missing. Online games worked well, but could be chaotic. In these disorienting early lock-down days, filled with worry and uncertainty, the main point was just about getting our young people together, even on a screen. The thrill for us was in seeing their smiles when they logged on. We couldn’t know what they, or any of us, were going through, with their families and loved ones, but for an hour or so each week, we were back together as a pack. We quickly realised that this actually was more important than the content, or the session plan. Our apprehensions about how the cubs might cope with the technology were quickly proved groundless. It turned out they were far more technically competent than we were. But gradually we too became au-fait with screen sharing, annotation controls (important if you don’t want your nice slides to be scribbled on by our fun-loving youngsters) and messaging. And dare I say it, the ‘mute all’ function does have its benefits…

By the time we got to lock-down number 2 (or was it 3?) we had realised that there was opportunity also in this new, virtual way of meeting. No longer restricted by geography, we could involve guests from further afield. We had a virtual drumming session led by an instructor from England, a presentation and discussion with a Rabbi from Edinburgh. And if this was possible, why not think bigger still? Why could we not connect with the world?

One thing led to the next. An initial text exchange with a contact at the international Rotarian Association in India, informal WhatsApp discussions, connections with Scouting Groups in India and Africa. Soon we had an organising committee and a monthly programme of international ZOOM presentations over those dark months of winter lock-down. First up, in January, the Guides and Brownies from Zimbabwe, sharing with us an inspiring video presentation of their community and culture. Then, in February, a brilliant demonstration from the Scouts of India of their activities and way of life. A veritable jamboree of colour, music and creativity. My favourite was the ‘tiger dance’. A bit like our campfire songs, but with added spice! In the live discussion afterwards one young child from India, asking a question about Zimbabwe, referred to ‘Zim-Bombay’.  We all smiled. It is the little things that bring you together.

Then, our turn in March and some pressure to meet expectations given tour-de-force showings from our new friends in Africa and India. We were also running into technical issues. For the India presentation we had exploded the ZOOM 100 person capacity limit. Thanks to the Rotarian Association in Zimbabwe we now had a new platform, with 300 capacity. 

The Bear cubs did a fabulous job, producing numerous action packed and creative videos, an inspiring montage of life in East Lothian. From harbour wall jumping to Auld Land Syne, to castles, landscape and culture, we enjoyed sharing something of our way of live and our shared Scouting values. Our Akela, Nigel did a nice piece from the Scout hall (still out of service in these Covid times), including a brief history of the local scouting movement, and we combined with footage of group games and activities, camps and song, a reminder of what we are about, and what we will soon do again. There was a live drawing activity- combining multi-cultural themes from all of the presentations- and an international take on the game, ‘Captain’s Calling’. Then at the end some inspiring words from Andrew Sharkey, our Chief Commissioner and guest for the occasion. We invited each other to our respective countries, for real campfire songs, just a soon as we can. Lots of smiles from the cubs. In the meantime, Zambia are up next on ZOOM, then Malawi and Mozambique…The World it turns out is quite a small place, really.

Ben Kemp, 1st North Berwick Bear Cubs

A big ‘thank you’ to everybody who has contributed to this initiative. In particular, to the International Rotarian Association and the Rotary Club of Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, without whose invaluable support it would not have been possible. 

Pentland Explorers

Congratulations to Pentland Explorers who celebrated the easing of lockdown by simultaneously ascending several hills in the Pentlands.

Following Covid safe guidance, each group met and hiked separately to their assigned hill, all arriving around 8pm. There then followed a rather unique light show as they signalled to each other. Explorers from DEPEVAK, Borestane, EDGE, Tormain and Wildfire climbed Capelaw, Bells Hill, Harbour Hill, Harlaw, Caerketton, Black Hill, and Allermuir. Explorers from Penicuik joined in on Carnethy, Scald Law and Turnhouse. A total of 97 Explorers, 17 leaders, 9 adults and one fog – our biggest turnout yet, in line with guidance and with risk assessments done through OSM

In addition, Tormain Explorer Unit took advantage of being outdoors for the first time in months by carrying out some investitures at the top of Bells Hill.