Our 2022 Summer Camp was held after a three-year break because of Covid, at one of our favourite sites on a greenfield site at Ardtalnaig on the south shore of Loch Tay. On the Thursday evening we packed the van with hundreds of pieces of kit including the kitchen sink. We travelled on the Saturday morning and arrived at camp to find the advance party had managed to do a great job putting up two marquees, three mess tents and numerous leader tents. The 27 Scouts, supported by some of the Leader team put up the patrol stormhavens and dining shelters as the rest of the Leader Team prepared the remainder of the camp.
On the Saturday night after, a communal dinner, we introduced our theme of “Highland Clans” and assigned Patrols to the Campbell, MacDonald, Mackenzie McLeod. We also introduced a Camp Challenge – 20 challenges to complete over the week. The Scouts spent the first evening learning about their Clan and drawing Clan Crests and their Tartans. – the picture of a Wolf Skull was particularly impressive. Our first campfire of the week was scuppered by “monsoon” proportions of rain, so it was an early night to bed for our Scouts and Leaders.
On Sunday, after the first breakfast cooked by the Scouts, we had our initial patrol inspection (to set the camp standards) and then we had our Regatta Day on the Loch. The Sea Scout Leaders facilitated an excellent day of raft building, water games and power boat riding. The weather was reasonable (for Scotland!!) during the day and the Scouts honed their sea scout skills whilst having a fun time. Given the deteriorating weather we cancelled our planned BBQ on the shore and the Scouts cooked their first dinner. We then had a “catch the flag” widegame where the competitive nature of our Scouts came to the fore. Our plans for a campfire were once again scuppered due to the rain and we feared we were in for yet another camp where it rained most days.
Thankfully, Monday started in great sunshine, and the Scouts spent the day developing a range of Scout skills including pioneering, first aid, ropes and pulleys (Cerys and Cara, two of our youngest Scouts, were able to pull a 2.5-ton van!!), navigation (using a very novel approach) and mapping. Given it was our first sunny evening, we had an excellent BBQ with the Patrol Leaders cooking burgers and kebabs on a skewer. We followed this up with a “Cramond Scouts Got Talent” show with some juggling, human structure, jokes, singing and a dodgy impersonation of a Geordie Leader by Struan . We also had our first campfire on the loch shore – everyone was itching to sing the first song. We had lots of renditions of our favourite songs before retiring.
On Tuesday we did Canyoning with the Rafting Company – the younger Scouts set off early and really enjoyed jumping into plunge pools, sliding down waterfalls and having an enormous amount of fun. The older Scouts spent a couple of hours transforming the garden of an elderly couple who lived locally as a thank you to Peregrine Moncreiffe, the landlord and landowner who allows us to use his field free of charge. In the afternoon, the older Scouts did canyoning, but our afternoon plans for the younger scouts was impacted by a problem with the minibus. Hannah and Eilidh, two of our younger leaders entertained the younger Scouts for 90 mins before we were able to fix the problem with Mark, another leader and the RAC. On our return, we said goodbye to the Scouts who were on the shorter camp option. After another evening meal cooked by the Scouts, they were given some free time before bed.
On Wednesday morning we had an “axe and saw” skills session where the Scouts learned how to saw and axe wood in a safe manner. It also allowed us to accumulate a lot of wood for the campfires during the remainder of the week. After lunch we headed off to Aberfeldy where we went on a walk to the Birks of Aberfeldy – our Leader Mark was brilliant at pointing out various aspects of the woods including edible berries, various plants and other interesting nature facts – the Scouts were really interested. We then played in the local park and had supper from the local fish and chip shop. Afterwards, Hannah our resident leader vet, dissected a small rabbit which had sadly died on site. The Scouts were so engrossed in what Hannah was doing and telling them – I am certain at least one Scout was inspired to be a vet. We then had an evening of para-cording with some great woggles and Scout bracelet bands being made.
On Thursday, after breakfast and inspection, the Scouts prepared for their respective expeditions. The younger scouts went on a walk to the lower hills above Acharn where they visited a Hermits Cave, had lunch at a historic Stone Circle and did some cherry foraging before returning via the excellent Acharn falls. In the evening the younger Scouts searched for “unlabelled” tins for their dinner including meatballs, macaroni cheese, tomato soup, various beans and sliced apple.!! They then lit “Swedish Torches” on which they toasted marshmallows before having a communal camp in the marquee.
The older Scouts set off after lunch on Friday for an overnight Canoe Expedition from Ardtalnaig to Kenmore, 11km each way. The outward journey took place with slightly choppy waters, a breeze, and some torrential rain. Initially, some of the Scouts struggled with the steering but after a while, they got the hang of it and 6 hours later, we reached our overnight camp area on an island just off Kenmore. We set up the tents, had an improvised meal and sang some songs around a campfire in the pouring rain. After a rainy evening we struck camp and had a great breakfast, delivered by speedboat and then set off on the return leg in glorious sunshine and very calm waters – the Loch was like a millpond all the way so we were back at camp in just over 3 hours having had the most wonderful couple of days with superb views, camaraderie and fun (as well as sore arms!!). Memories I, and I am sure the Scouts, will carry for many years. Thanks to Steve for organising and leading such a wonderful trip.
In the afternoon, after taking down the dining shelters, Craig and Duncan led a “Highland Games” with much competition to try to gain those points which would win the prizes including toss the caber, tug-o-war, throw the welly, a hill run and Highland Dancing, all in very hot weather,
In the evening, Karen and Anne, our superb camp cooks, prepared a brilliant Highland Clans banquet meal of Kilted Sausages, Lentil Soup Shots, Haggis Neeps and Tatties and Elgin Mess – 32 portions all made in the middle of a field in a marquee which looked more like the inside of a noble castle!!! Our guest of honour Steve, our Canoe Expedition leader with virtual attendance by Lord Hector Black, one of our leaders who sadly was unable to make the camp as he is recovering from some surgery.
At the banquet we gave out the camp prizes as follows:
· Endeavour Award – Duncan
· Best Newcomer – Alexander
· Most Supportive Scout – Struan
· Highland Games Winner – McLeod Patrol
· Regatta Winner – MacDonald Patrol
· Best Patrol Leader – Finlay
· Best Patrol – Campbell Patrol
We closed the evening by presenting the Chief Scout’s Gold Award to 3 Scouts – after 4 plus years of attending Friday Scouts, engaging in activities and challenges, and attending Easter and Summer Camps – massive congratulations to Finlay, Gabriel, and Sam on achieving the highest award in Scouting. The rest of the Scouts who attended completed several of the 9 Challenges that contribute to the award.
On Saturday morning, we were able to strike camp in very good time as we left most of the kit so the 21st Craigalmond Group from South Queensferry could use it for their Centenary camp, leaving the camp in good order and getting back to the Kirk ahead of schedule.
So, it was great to be back camping, in a wonderful location where the “skills for life” mantra were certainly on show, The Scouts were very well behaved, engaged in the activities, challenges and camp singing and gave the leaders very little bother. We hopefully created memories that will last for many years. They were supported by an extensive and committed Leader team to whom I say a massive thanks.
Here’s to Summer Camp 2023 which is likely to see us back at Loch Tay.
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