Whilst most camps involve sacrificing only a soft bed, Explorers from around the Region went back to basics this year at the Regional Explorer Camp which was held at Philiphaugh – a greenfield site made available to groups in the Region by one of our Regional Vice Presidents, Sir Michael Strang Steel.  Greenfield doesn’t mean camping only – the Explorers enjoyed an amazing array of different activities throughout the weekend and we visited the Edge Explorer Unit to find out what made the camp a fantastic experience.

At 1am at a small road junction somewhere between Lilliesleaf and Longnewton, a team of 7 Explorers are deciphering the latest clue on the Night Challenge Hike organised by the leader team.  Their final destination is the  statue of William Wallace near Bemersyde, not that they knew it at the time.

Explorers - Night Hike

A team of Explorers participating in the Night Challenge Hike.

 

“It was really nice to meet people I’d never met before and spend time with them”, Corin told us.

Rachel thought so too – “I’m still in touch with the people from my team – we got a bit lost and didn’t make it to the finish but we spent some time stargazing instead, it was a great way to bond and make new friends.”

Explorers - Wallace Statue

New friends for some, sleep for others!

 

It might have been late but most of the teams were determined to finish the hike and reach their goal.  “We were in the second group of teams to do the hike and I was really proud that we finished first!” said Holly.  “I think I was so tired when we finished that I couldn’t sleep.”

Explorers - Breakfast

Nothing wakes up Explorers quite like a bacon roll.

 

The hike may have finished just before sunrise but it wasn’t long before the Explorers were up and about again, ready to take on the activities organised and run by leaders from across the Region.  Activities included creating a team t-shirt, pioneering, survival skills, canoeing, first aid, and frisbee golf.  Teams also had a chance to unwind whilst they prepared a sketch for the campfire later in the evening.

Explorers - Learning Guitar

Preparing campfire sketches was a great chance for Explorers to socialise and make new friends.

 

“My favourite activity was learning how to skin and gut a rabbit – I hope that next time I can get my hands dirty and do more of it myself next time”, said Corin.

Rachel preferred a more adventurous activity telling us that “the canoeing was really fun, although someone in our team didn’t want to get wet so didn’t get to soak any of the other teams that much with the wet sponges”.

“We were the last group doing canoeing, but I think we got the best time.  The sun was starting to set and the sky looked absolutely amazing!”, Beth told us.

Leaders - Socialising

Leaders also got a chance to make some new friends!

 

“What really made the camp fun was how approachable the leaders were, I think they had as much fun as we did”, Peter proposed.

Rachel is currently thinking about Universities and what to do when she leaves school, “The leaders were so enthusiastic, I even got a chance to talk about what University life is like with Nandesh who is studying medicine in Edinburgh.  His advice was great and will really help me decide what to do when I leave school.”

Explorers - Campfire

Garry leads the campfire with his amazing vocals.

 

In the evening each team had to perform their campfire sketch – all were light-hearted and fun although we’re unsure how many languages it is possible to remember the words to “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in.

Explorers - Cooking

Some Explorers cooked on conventional altar fires…

 

After an action-packed day on Saturday most of the Explorers and Leaders enjoyed a sleep-in on Sunday.  Whilst a large part of the day focused on tidying the site and breaking camp the Explorers took part in a cooking competition.  Some of the food would not have been out of place in many of the fine eateries in and around Edinburgh.

Explorers - Camp Stove

…whilst others made use of more complicated stoves!

 

Corin learned how to use a camp oven to use during the competition – “It was really interesting learning how to use it; the best thing was you didn’t get smoke in your eye because the chimney is so tall.  We also used some Swedish fire logs which don’t last that long but you don’t need a grill or anything because the pot just sits on top.”

Explorers - Winners

The winning team! Congratulations Spain!

 

It wouldn’t be a camp without a bit of friendly competition and Team Spain managed to clench the victory from Team France by a few points, with the victors taking the spoils of a set of medals and the highly enviable Roman Centurion’s Helmet which is the trophy for the camp.

“It was amazing to win the competition – especially because we didn’t all know one another before we started”, Rachel told us with a smile.  “The medals spin around like a globe, and Andrew looked great in the centurion helmet.  It might be hard to convince him to take it off to share it around the group though!”

So, hats (or helmets) off to ARC Explorers John Buchanan and the team organising the camp.  It sounds like the Explorers and Leaders had a fantastic time!  If you’re interested in being involved in organising the next camp, whether you are an Explorer or a Leader, please get in touch with John at explorers@sesscouts.org.uk.