by Mike Treanor, Scout Leader 82nd Cramond (Craigalmond) Scouts
Our 2018 Summer Camp was held at Culzean Country Park Scout Camp in Ayrshire. Given the weather had been glorious for what seemed like months and months we were looking forward to a dry camp. On arrival, the advance party had managed to do a great job putting up the marquees, mess tents and leader tents, despite a tyre blow out on the way there. On arrival, the 32 Scouts and Leader team put up the patrol Stormhavens and dining shelters just before a 48 hour monsoon arrived, which turned rock hard grass into a near swamp in no time at all!! The accompanying wind managed to fell a sizeable tree but fortunately no-one was hurt.
On the Saturday night we introduced our theme “Stranded on a Desert Island” with some familiar and not so familiar islands – Treasure Island, Coral Island (from Lord of the Flies), New Switzerland (from Swiss Family Robinson), Isla Nublar (from Jurassic Park) and Monuriki (from Castaway). The Scouts spent the first evening drawing maps of their islands and creating wooden signs from driftwood to name their patrol area (no camp fire given the ongoing rain).
On Sunday, after the first breakfast cooked by the Scouts we had our first patrol inspection (to set the camp standards) and then we visited the grounds in Culzean. Unfortunately the rain continued to pour so we persuaded the camp trolley bus service to take us on a covered tour of the site before they kindly went out of their way to drop us off at the camp. We improvised with a Fifty Question Challenge which set the basis for our Patrol point’s challenge. As the rain eased we did some site maintenance, clearing the felled tree as well as removing an old fence and gathering mounds of wood for future camp-fires.
Monday saw us offsite at Maidens for our water sports day – the rain had eased and the sun shone for a while, with a glorious backdrop of Arran, including the Holy Isle and Goat Fell. The Scouts did a full on day, paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing. Our Sea Scouts honed their skills whilst the others scouts learned new water skills, albeit a couple of Scouts unfortunately did not avoid jellyfish stings!! On the evening we did a “Lost at Sea” team building exercise where the Scouts had to select 12 from 32 items which would help them survive stranded on an island – after much debate and discussion, the selections were made with “positive attitude” being the unanimous favourite, followed by fire-lighting equipment, tarpaulins for shelter, knives, rope and safety pins to catch fish (or in one case, birds!!). We were also able to have our first camp fire, with the young adult leaders doing a fantastic job in engaging the scouts in their favourite camp songs.
Scout Skills day took up most of Tuesday and again the Scouts learned a range of new skills including rope and pulley work (towing the minibus and pulling down dead trees), hammock and shelter building, axe and saw work (very popular), navigation and first aid skills (which were needed when the Scouts used their pen-knives for whittling their woggles!). In the evening we had to abandon our Beach BBQ given the rain, so we cooked in the dining shelters, although we did manage to cook dough bread and smores on Swedish Torches.
On Wednesday we split up, with the older Scouts preparing for and undertaking their overnight expedition and the younger Scouts spending the day in the grounds of Culzean. The expedition to Turnberry was undertaken in horrendous conditions, so the tarpaulins were abandoned and the tents erected. Despite the conditions the Scouts and Leaders stuck it out and came back Thursday morning, drenched and exhausted but very pleased they had met the challenge. The younger Scouts had a great day, making huge SOS signs on the beach using seaweed, rocks and other materials as well as spending an hour or so digging for treasure hidden at the end of a large rope buried in the sand. Unfortunately no fortunes were made. In the evening the younger Scouts searched for “unlabelled” tins for their dinner – macaroni cheese, meatballs, peaches and custard was the best find!! That evening we had a Desert Island themed competition, the most competitive event being the limbo.
On the Thursday afternoon, we all went to Girvan and had a brilliant afternoon at the RNLI station. Callum and his fellow volunteers showed us around their brand new state of the art boat costing £2.1m pounds as well as demonstrating how to put on their gear. The Scouts were really attentive, asked great questions and we were pleased to hand over a donation of £200. After an hour of playing in the Girvan play park, we all had a massive meal of fish/sausage/haggis suppers in the evening sun (actually it was drizzle but we didn’t care!!). The local seagulls and some young teenagers tried their best to disrupt our meal but we all enjoyed a great feast. We finished the day with a massive camp fire where we burned all the material we collected earlier in the week followed by more camp songs.
We started to strike camp on Friday, trying to take tents down dry between the showers. The young adult leaders brought together a great “Olympics” with much competition to try to gain those points which would win the prizes. In the evening, Karen, our camp cook, surpassed the excellent service she had already provided during the week, with a superb BBQ banquet meal of kebabs, burgers and chocolate cake.
We closed the evening with our GSL, Graham Cullen, presenting the Chief Scout Gold Award to 7 Scouts who after 4 plus years of attending Friday Scouts, engaging in activities and challenges and attending Easter and Summer Camps achieved the ultimate award – massive congratulations to them all.
Despite a little drizzle Saturday we were able to strike camp in good time, leaving the camp in good order and getting back to the Kirk at the target time. We had lots of help from parents in putting the kit away, and lots of volunteers to dry our tents.
So a great camp, in a wonderful location and the “positive attitude” certainly got us through the persistent rain. The Scouts were very well behaved, engaged in the activities, challenges and camp singing and gave the leaders very little bother. They were supported by an extensive and committed Leader team to whom I say a massive thanks.