Summer of Play
South East Scotland Scouts were successful in our application for funding to the Scottish Government national “Summer of Play” Funding via YouthLink Scotland. We managed to obtain funding which helped support camps and residential experiences for the Beavers, Cubs, Scout, Explorer Scout and Scout Network Sections across our Region. Over 300 young people across 5 Districts in the South East Scotland region enjoyed 1,430 nights away including single nights to traditional multiple night camps – many for the first time in 18 months! The Region also supported Pentland, Craigalmond and Edinburgh North East districts to obtain additional funding which brought the total funding in the Region to £10,500. The Scouts took part in outdoor activities in Cumbria to Carrbridge and lots of places in between and the fun also included Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions. The funding enabled our young people to experience a range of new activities ensuring they were provided with opportunities to socialise, play and reconnect within their local communities and environments.
A summary of our regional Summer of Play activity can be read below, well done to all on the great work during Summer 2021:
Click each name below to read more about their amazing Summer of Play story. Some fab videos and photos are included.
All our Scouts enjoyed a great experience with the help of the Summer of Play funding. Thank you!
21 Scouts from Lauder enjoyed 2 nights at the Westruther Greenfield Camp on 9-11 July, 2021 via the Summer of Play funding. The programme included: camp skills, pioneering, wide games, camp fires, cooking, waterslide! Lauderdale Scout Group wishes to express our utmost thanks to the Summer of Play funding and YouthLink Scotland for the very easy grant application and payment process. Colin MacDonald, Group Scout Leader, commented “The funds were put towards new camping equipment for Lauderdale Scout Group that can also be used by our Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorer Scout Sections.” said Bob O’Donnell, Assistant Section Leader for the Scouts.
Galashiels Scout Group
Galashiels Scouts had the opportunity to camp with scouts and explorers from Calderdale, West Yorkshire in the Lake District near Wast Water. The patrols were mixed and the Summer of Play funding allowed everyone interested to go to the camp and join in having fun and learning loads of skills. Jude Cormack, Scout Section Leader, said: “The week’s camp really got the scouts excited to do it again as soon as possible along with the feeling of getting back to normal, doing the things they love.”
As well as setting up camp, inspections, fire cooking and washing up the young people joined in with paddle boarding, ghyll scrambling, air rifle shooting, wild swimming in tarns and rivers, hiking, visiting Barrow in Furness and the swimming pool there. And we can’t forget the camp fire singing, sleeping in hammocks and making 38 new friends!!
Melrose Scout Group
Melrose Scout Group celebrated their award of a £500 Summer of Play grant via SE Scotland Scouts from the Scottish Government with a Summer Camp and Fun day over the weekend of 6th and 7th August. Over the weekend the Melrose Scout Group held a Summer Camp and Fun day at their outdoor classroom on the Old Melrose Estate. The relaxation of covid restrictions also enabled them to take to their tents for the first time in 18 months. The older Scouts and Cubs camped the night before on the banks of the River Tweed and on the day itself 50 Scouts, Cubs and Beavers aged from 6 ½ up to 14 took part is a series of fun activities and challenges spread out across the Estate. The day started with a breakfast hosted by the Old Melrose Tearooms.
The Scouts, Cubs and Beavers then took part in a nature walk and treasure hunt around the Estate followed by a series of projects including the building of dens and the construction of a giant catapault. After lunch in the woods, they had an afternoon of activities including, archery, slacklining, stretcher building and various team building activities. Finally, they paused to create some pieces of art to reflect on the beautiful natural surroundings of the Scottish Borders. The day then ended with a traditional Scout sing song. William Younger, Chairman of the Melrose Scout Group, said “For much of the last 18 months it has been difficult to deliver traditional Scouting activities and we have had to move to on-line sessions. It is great to be able to move outdoors again and re-start our camping and bushcraft activites. The young people within the Scottish Borders have suffered through lockdown due to a reduction in their ability to socialise with other children. Scouting offers a great opportunity to help rebuild confidence and offer life defining outdoor experiences.”
Bore Stane ESU Explorers (Pentland)
Pentland District Explorers have recently created a dedicated DofE Support function and it was this entity that applied for the Summer of Play funding.
The group has already been able to arrange 2 separate weekends where teams of Explorers were able to get away for their expedition sections, double whammy! The first was from Saturday 31st July to Sunday 1st August and was a 2-day DofE Bronze expedition in the Pentlands. This comprised 14 Explorers in 3 teams walking from Harlaw to West Linton via a “wild” camp overnight at Harperrig Reservoir. There is a brief Facebook posting at https://www.facebook.com/borestaneesu/posts/1204793266639623.
The second event was from Friday 13th August to Sunday 15th August and was another 2-day Bronze DofE expedition (although one team opted to take in an additional night out). This time it was 11 Explorers in 2 teams. The expedition was in roughly the same area with teams travelling from Harlaw to West Linton. The teams all planned their routes with only the overnight, start point, and finish points being common.
Sam Dickinson, District Explorer Scout Commissioner Pentland District said: “The Summer of Play funding enabled us to build momentum with the new Pentland DofE Support function. We are already planning more activity, in more remote locations, in the coming months with both Bronze and Silver expeditions on the horizon. With the money from this funding, we will be able to offer a greater breadth of opportunity for everyone to participate (with subsidised expedition costs) as well as being able to access more exciting wild places with larger numbers of young people. The Pentland DofE Support function has been in existence for less than 12 months so this money will kickstart the offering for Explorers across the district.”
Wildfire Explorers (Pentland)
Pentland District Wildfire Explorer unit camped on the Philiphaugh Estate near Selkirk, a site Sir Michael Strang Steel has kindly allowed us to use for many years. The camp was from Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th of August. Being a greenfield site camp setup took a while, sleeping tents, cooking shelters, collecting, and chopping wood for wood fires, opening shelters to hand out food and give instructions, putting up a marquee to store food and equipment, putting up toilet tents and dig a deep pit etc. The Explorers and leaders alike were all a bit rusty having missed a year of camping but coped well. The camp started with a few days of hot and sunny weather, so it was time for swimming or paddling in canoes and kayaks. Explorers prepared and cooked their own meals throughout the camp on wood fires. This presented a great learning experience while working as a team. Other camp activities included building a rope bridge across the field, a hike to Newark Castle, camp skills and camp games. A highlight for many was planning a dinner, walking into Selkirk to purchase the ingredients, and returning to cook the leaders and themselves the meal.
Graham Simpson, District Nights Away Adviser, said: “The Summer of Play funding was used to purchase 6 buoyancy aids and 20 campfire song books. The extra buoyancy aids meant we all could be in the water at the same time so we didn’t need to split into a land-based group and a water-based group. Our unit loves to do things all together whenever we can. The song books were purchased so that everyone could join in with campfire songs allowing us also to learn new songs. Many thanks to 4th Sevenoaks Scout Group who shared an excellent PDF file of their favourite campfire songs. We used HelloPrint to create the song books.”
The young people did answer 3 questions on paper before we left camp and you can read some of these via the PDF link: Camp Feedback
Tormain Explorers (Pentland)
Newly formed Tormain Explorer Unit based in Ratho on the west side of Edinburgh were lucky enough to receive funds from the Summer of Play scheme this summer. As a result, we were able to fund a variety of activities at our week-long camp at Great Tower in the Lake District from Sunday 8 – Saturday 14th August. For all of the Explorers, this was their first Explorer camp (although they are all well-seasoned scout campers!) and it was fantastic that we were able to offer a few more adventurous activities because of the grant we had been awarded.
In particular, our Explorers were able to take part in kayaking and paddle boarding on Lake Windermere on two lovely sunny mornings under the instruction of the very experienced Great Tower instructors. They also had an afternoon crag climbing, a morning rifle shooting and tomahawk throwing and another scaling the infamous (and seriously high) “Gauntlet”. The latter activity was definitely a challenge for some of the Explorers (and leader!) due to the height of the structure and the core strength required but they all did it and loved it! They were very proud of themselves afterwards, as were the leaders.
Without the funding, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to offer all the activities available at Great Tower. The Explorers loved every activity they took part in and quite a few of them discovered an aptitude for a certain sport that they hadn’t known they had. Afterwards they all said it was one of the best camps they’d ever been to – and the leaders would have to agree!
9th Pentland (Ratho)
A 6-day camp between the 26th and 31st July held in the grounds of a local country estate, with a mix of activities organised on site by leaders and some off-site adventurous activities including canoeing, karting and a high ropes course.
The Pentland Scout troop normally holds a week-long Scout camp during the summer holidays, usually at one of the big Scout activity centres, so that we can do multiple activities during the week. Obviously, we were unable to do this in 2020 and there was a lot of uncertainty about whether camp sites would be open or whether they would be running activities in 2021. We were keen to avoid disappointing the Scouts again, so we wanted to organise something that we were more certain could go ahead. The parents of one of our Scouts owns an old country house on the edge of the village with large grounds and they offered us the use of one of their fields for camping and we then planned a range of activities that we could run ourselves – not as good as what would be on offer from the Scout activity centres, but better than nothing. As the camp approached, it still looked like the Scout centres wouldn’t be running their activities, but there were a few commercial activity providers who had reopened, albeit at a much higher cost than we were used to. At about the same time, the Summer of Play funding was announced and we thought the funding would be an ideal way to allow us to add a few “big ticket” activities to the programme while still keeping the camp affordable for parents.
Throughout the 6 days of the camp, we ran several activities on site, focussing on activity badges including the craft, athletics, and naturalist badges. We also ventured off-site to do hiking, cycling, geocaching, and canoeing, and two paid-for activities – karting (at Xtreme Karting in Newbridge) and climbing activities (at Foxlake). However, the highlight for many of the Scouts was being able to camp again with all their friends.
David Siddle, Scout Section Leader, advised: “After nearly 18 months of disruption in their lives, it has been vitally important this summer that the Scouts experienced some sort of return to normality. Our summer camp this year gave the Scouts an opportunity to reconnect in a way that hasn’t been possible in other settings. Despite this, we were worried that the camp would have been memorable for all the wrong reasons – the camp that nearly never was, the one where we stayed on our doorstep and had to follow strict rules. However, thanks to the Summer of Play funding, we were able to run more and better activities which have helped the Scouts to leave some of their worries of the past year behind and just enjoy having fun and spending time with their friends. This camp has been memorable, but for the right reasons – as an incredibly fun camp experience – and I am sure many of the Scouts will be talking about it for years to come.”
Edinburgh North East (Royal High Primary School) and Craigentinny Explorer Unit
The 14th Edinburgh North East Troop and Craigentinny Explorer Unit headed off to a Summer Camp at Philiphaugh Estate, Selkirk from 24th to 31st July 2021. This was a very successful event which marked our return to camping for the first time in two years. The camp programme was supported by a grant from the Summer of Play scheme, which allowed us to provide a ½ day of canoeing for everyone who attended. The canoeing sessions allowed us to test just how many Scouts it takes to sink a canoe. The answer seems to be 8 …….!
We also hired exclusive use of Galashiels Swimming Pool for an hour, and then let everyone loose on the town for an afternoon. One unusual activity undertaken during the week was Lateral Flow Testing. Although this was a routine event for all school-age young people, it was definitely a ‘first’ for some of the Adult Leader Team. Other programme activities included Olympic Lowland Games, a hike by the older Scouts and the Explorers to the 3 Brethren, a local monument, the Humbie Cup (a plate golf competition played in fancy dress), a Euro 20 penalty shootout, school sports (egg and spoon race, 5-legged race, wheelbarrow race, etc.) and a Trading Post. The water level in the River Ettrick which flows past the site was so low that we were able to hold two campfires in the river bed. Congratulations to Oliver Henderson who won the Open Plate Golf competition, the first ever Scout to achieve this. Although because of the restrictions involved there were less Scouts and Explorers at the camp than we would normally expect, this was still very well received and a welcome return to almost ‘normal’ camping.
82nd Craigalmond (Cramond)
The 82nd Cramond Explorer Scouts were able to get away for a Summer Camp during July. We had saved some dates but with the ever changing regulations we were unsure if we would be able to go. Thanks to the Summer of Play funding we were able to put together a camp at the very last minute, with the funding we received giving us confidence as we hadn’t been able to collect the normal deposits. Donald Black, District Section Leader – Explorer Scouts said “With the support of the Summer of Play funding we were able to take 12 Explorer Scouts to hold a traditional green field camp at a site near Dunbar. With the site over looking Torness power station we set the camp theme as Splitting the Atom. Our long weekend was blessed with great weather, incredible sunshine, and no midges!”
“During the camp we were able to brush up on scout skills made rusty by a year in lockdown, and there was lots of tent pitching practice with all the tents for social distancing! But, it wasn’t all working on skills, with a trip to the beach, a nuclear disaster themed incident hike and the odd game of “Roentgen” volley ball. If one thing could be agreed upon, it was great to be back outside camping!”
122nd Craigalmond (Comely Bank)
Comely Bank Scouts (122nd Craigalmond) were delighted to have 19 Scouts spend four days at Bonaly Scout Centre in August. To provide COVID-safe individual sleeping accommodation, the Troop invested in hammocks and tarps, with some Scouts sleeping in tarp shelters (fashioned from a tarp, a walking pole, 8 pegs and a small groundsheet!), and others enjoying the comparative luxury of hammocks – “the best ever way to sleep at camp!”.
Scouts enjoyed the Mohawk Walk, Pioneering, Grass Sledging, the Zip Line, making paracord bracelets, a campfire, and a hike across the Pentlands to shop for “camp cook day”, where they planned menus, prepared shopping lists, bought the food (within a budget), and cooked on open fires in patrols. Graeme Robertson, Group Scout Leader, said: “The grant from the Summer of Play scheme made the whole camp possible, by enabling the large investment in new camping kit – which will no doubt see hammocks as a permanent ‘upgrade’ option, in preference to pitching traditional patrol tents!”
4th Braid (Greenbank Church Hall)
As COVID restrictions eased, the 4th Braid Scouts ran two Summer Camps and took a total of 35 Scouts away to Bonaly and Killin from 28-29 June and 30th June-3rd July respectively. For a lot of Scouts this was a first night away. The 4th Braid now has a lot of Scouts who have not come from Cubs, and due to the lack of camping, the challenge was getting everyone back up to the same level of skills while having fun. This time together learning skills and sleeping under canvas was valuable to everyone, but especially them. The first group – P6s and P7s – spent two days building a monkey bridge, preparing and cooking all meals on fire, learning new skills and developing existing skills such as tool use (axe and saw) and tent pitching. We played some wide games and had a campfire.
The second group – S1s and S2s – went away later that week spending 3 nights and 4 days at a greenfield site near Killin. For some, this was a first night away, for some it was a 60th (but 1st since 2020), and everything in between which was an exciting opportunity. We allowed our Patrol Leaders to take a little responsibility before they moved on to Explorers and they enjoyed this a lot. It was an experience where everyone gained something. Activities included – a highland games, swimming in the river, campfires, cooking on fire, camp/Scout skills, hiking, and we visited an activity centre.
The Summer of Play funding went towards the food, activity centre, and transport. Minibuses and vans are the largest part of the costs so without the funding it may not have been possible. We really appreciate the funding, it definitely helped us to achieve our goal of offering a night away to everyone who wanted it, learn skills and have fun along the way!
25th Braid (Morningside Parish Church)
“It was all great. I can’t pick one thing. The whole weekend was great.” Scout – aged 13.
From Nikki Maclean, Assistant Scout Leader: Canty Bay, July 2021.
“I am standing on the field in front of the old Canty Bay fishing cottages- now owned by the Evans Trust and rented out as accommodation to Scouts and Guides. Around me are about twenty small tents and some Coleman shelters that we are using as dining tents – due to Covid restrictions (at the time) we are camping outside and not staying in the dormitories indoors. Although both of my children are on camp, I am in Scout Leader role, necker on over water-proof jacket that smells of smoke from the campfire the night before, the Scouts are having ‘free-play’ time and I’m staying vigilant but far enough away to give them some space and time with their friends.
On one side of me, a group of boys are playing Kubb, a new game they have adopted as this weekend’s official camp game, on the other side there’s an impromptu 5-a-side match going, and out to my front, just beyond the golden sands of the curved bay, I see my daughter and 2 other girls playing in the shallows of the sea, bare-footed, leggings rolled up above their knees, laughing and running in and out of the sea in time with the waves. In the foreground some Scouts are creating a new-build on the beach – a whole village complete with sturdy sand-wall to prevent it from being washed away with the high tide- it seems that teenage boys are not too old to build sand-castles.”
The above is is just a snap-shot from a recent Scout Camp that was supported by the Summer of Play Fund – a weekend of joy, freedom, play and nature. The rest of the weekend was equally memorable, filled with climbing over rocks, fishing, whittling, campfire skits and singing, a beach barbeque, and a walk to North Berwick along the coastal trail for fish, chips and iron-Bru. An emotional experience as it was all a huge contrast to the past year; the tears, stress and door-slamming of homes-schooling, the desperate attempts to remain connected to family and friends through zoom, and the many months detached from the simplicity and freedom of the beautiful spaces we normally escape to. The benefits of this weekend were clearly evident to me. And for the young people? As mainly teenagers and near-teenagers, they might not articulate their feelings to the adults around them in words- but the impact was clear – from the relaxed demeanours that accompanied their freedom to be themselves, from the smiles and laughter, from the joy that was evident from seeing them engage with friends and nature – that is definitely what a summer of play is all about and exactly what we all needed this year. Huge thanks to all who organised and supported it.
28th Braid (Mayfield Salisbury Church)
The 28th Braid Scout Troop had their Summer Camp near Carrbridge from 22-31 July 2021 with 22 Scouts, 2 YLs and 8 Leaders in attendance. Our programme including traditional scouting skills, Patrol challenges, hikes and a visit to a Zip Wire Park in a nearby forest. Alan Dickson, Scouts Section Leader, said: “Thanks to the Summer of Play, we were able to include an additional external adventure activity by going to the Loch Morlich Watersports Centre. The Scouts were able to choose between Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Board and Mountain Biking.”
44th Braid (Marchmont St.Giles)
The 44th Braid Scout Troop only started in May 2020 so we started on Zoom with only a few face to face meeting before our first ever camp. “We had been donated some tents from another group but with no groundsheets and not enough pegs. The grant helped us buy some essential camp equipment that will be used for years to come, cooking equipment, a table, a bow saw, an axe, groundsheets and pegs.” said Alison Hill, Group Scout Leader at 44th Braid Scout Group.
Seven Scouts – 3 girls and 4 boys – two Scout Leaders, one Cub leader and our GSL camped for 2 nights at the Bonaly Scout Centre from 23rd-25th July 2021. The weather was fantastic and the young people enjoyed wide games, a campfire, cooking on altar fires, the zipline, pioneering and walking in the Pentlands. What a way to start the term!
103rd Braid (Morningside Parish Church)
The 103rd Braid Scouts enjoyed a weeklong summer camp at Boreland Scout Camp site at St Anns near Moffat from Saturday 24th to Saturday 31st July. A group of 36 made up mostly of Scouts with Leaders, Young Leaders, and a few Beavers enjoyed camping, hammock fun, slippery slope slide, river swimming, cycling at Ae Forest, cooking in patrols on open fires, and taking part in a wide range of activities including Camp Olympics! We also enjoyed climbing, abseiling and zip wire at Galloway Activity Centre. On the water, at the centre the young people took part in kayaking and sailing on a sunny day.
Thirteen of our oldest Scouts went in three different groups on 24 hour overnight expeditions in the local area, walking for 20km over two days and sleeping in hammocks in order to complete their Expedition Challenge badge.
James Sievewright, Scout Section Leader, said: “We are very grateful for the grant we received. Knowing we had received the grant helped to pay for some of the extra equipment we needed to run the camp given the restrictions on the number of people who could share the same sleeping tent.”
Some of the feedback from those who went included:
“……. had an absolutely brilliant time, and since coming home he has been eagerly sharing his stories with us about all the activities it got up to”
“After such a long absence from face-to-face meetings I wondered how he would fare with a full week away, however he felt really well cared for as well as really enjoying it”
“Fantastic week. ………. really enjoyed it and came home on great form. One of his highlights was definitely the mountain biking. He loved the Ae Forest trails”
“…… had an absolute blast this week. Absolutely full of chat about the great things he has done and offering to make chicken schnitzel”
“a fabulous week at scout camp …. absolutely loved it (although did come home quite tired!)”
“a big achievement & hopefully a confidence boost for …….”