Longcraig Update October 2021

Longcraig Update October 2021

EmaiLongcraig continues to attract marine visitors! 

We’ve seen dolphins, whales, rare shearwaters – now this one is a bit less plausible! 

We had a sighting of sardines in the Forth in August. 

The photo shows the evidence, but we don’t think it likely to become an invasion! 

 Longcraigs Oct

***Longcraig Road update*** 

Following a recent enquiry to our local councillors, we were advised that the road repairs to the Longcraig road were scheduled to take place ‘in mid September’. Not sure if that’s when the work will start, when it will finish, or if it will all be over in a flash! Anyway, it’s now clear that it certainly wasn’t the finish, evidence shows it wasn’t when the work would be carried out, indeed (at the time of writing) – it’s not even started yet!  

So we do strongly recommend that anyone visiting Longcraig or indeed into Dalmeny Estate on foot or on cycle, by way of Longcraig Road, please take a flashing yellow beacon so you can be located if you fall into one of our significant potholes! Hopefully better news to report next month!! 

 

Adventurous Activity Permits 

These permits are a requirement for a number of ‘adventurous activities’ but our principal interest of course, is around Scouts and young people taking part in water based adventurous activities. It’s not just the instructors and ASU members at Longcraig who might need to hold an appropriate Permit. Any adult leading or supporting a water based activity needs to have an appropriate Activity Permit to do so – unless you are operating on Class C water where you still require the approval of your District Commissioner (DC) to do so. 

The process for gaining an Activity Permit is similar across all adventurous activities whether these are hill, mountain, snow, or water, and are described here: 

There are four areas assessed to gain a permit: 

  • Technical Competence 

This looks at the specific technical skills required to run the activity. It is usually assessed through a practical assessment although other evidence such as logged experience and other qualifications held can help as well. There is an assessment checklist for each activity listing the skills that will be assessed. 

  • Scout Association Rules 

This checks whether the applicant is aware of the activity Rules and how they affect the activity within Scouting. 

  • Safeguarding 

This is not for applicants who are under 18. 

This will be carried out by the Commissioner or their nominee and ensures that the necessary personal enquiry checks have been carried out and the appropriate safeguarding training (module 1) has taken place. 

  • Personal Suitability 

This is to check the applicant is suitable (in terms of attitude, health for the activity involved etc) to be leading an adventurous activity for young people. 

How does it work? Like this: 

 Longcraigs Oct

You will find all the guidance, application forms, log books, etc on the scouts website under ‘Activities’ or ask your District Activities Adviser of you have one, or head to the Region Activities Advisers by emailing the Region’s Manager of Activity Permits – MAPS@Sesscouts.org.uk

Our team at Longcraig is here to support any aspirations you might have to lead water activities, whether through guidance in the permit scheme, to providing assessments required for the issue of a permit, to simply provisioning enough ‘time on the water’ for people to develop their own skills and experience. Give us a shout if this is something we can help out with! 

getinvolved@longcraig.info 

 

Planning ahead for 2022 – part 2 

Last month we suggested a few ideas which groups and sections might wish to think about for activity days next year (assuming we all get back to a near normal). 

This month we focus on another key product which does need some planning ahead, that is Training Courses. Training courses vary from activity to activity, but they can be just one day, often a weekend duration, and sometimes it can require a whole week. But, many of us go to work, school, college etc., so a ‘week’ can be made up of a series of weekends, or single days, or even a list of evenings, so long as it adequately and fully covers the syllabus of what is being trained. 

And training courses can be arranged for just individuals, if you have a scout or a leader who has a particular aptitude to develop a skill; it can be for a small group of eager folks who want to get a step further up the ladder; or it can be for a larger group, especially if you have a specific themed programme of your own which a training course can contribute to. 

Training is not just all about getting in boats and developing physical skills! We can also offer First Aid courses (with a maritime bias to them); VHF marine radio competence courses; and specific courses which can cover one or more aspects of watery kind of things without even getting your feet wet – from navigation, to tides and weather stuff, to how boats go together, even to some simple boat building / maintenance aspects. Just enquire and see what could be available! 

We can help with any or all of these things – but they need forward planning! 

If you are having any inklings of thoughts in this direction, please get in touch with us over the next few weeks as we also start to put our calendars and diaries together. The earlier we can get involved, the better we can plan our support for your event or skills training requirements. 

getinvolved@longcraig.info 

 

Paddleboarding continues 

A few of us ventured out onto Loch Ard in the Trossachs one warm but misty day in September for a paddleboard tour of the loch. Despite the gloominess of the weather, it was a good opportunity to explore some gentle inland water among some marvellous scenery. And the sun came out almost as soon as we finished and sat down for a well earned cup of coffee!  

 Longcraigs Oct

Longcraigs Oct

Building refurbishment 

Plans continue to develop towards having our facilities update take place starting in autumn 2022, over the winter months whilst the Centre is closed. 

In the meantime, as we refine our plans, explore further funding options, and consider how best we can provide heating and hot water with a minimal carbon footprint, we are pursuing parallel plans to replace the aging alarm system in the current building, and also to redefine our boundaries with better and more effective fencing to provide more robust outside storage space for our boats and some of the equipment. These will be progressing over this coming winter and we anticipate will be ready for our 2022 season. 

So, summer 2022 will see the same Longcraig as before, but with better outside storage, and an improved internal alarm system. Does this matter? We think it does!! 

At the end of next activity season, we will dismantle and rebuild over the winter of 2022 to have our shiny new facility up and running for Spring 2023. We’ll arrange a ‘Farewell Old Toilets’ party at the end of our 2022 season!! 

getinvolved@longcraig.info 

 

Ian Harrower
Longcraigs ASU

Bonaly Scout Centre September Update

Bonaly Scout Centre September Update

Welcome back!

It is so good the see Scouts back camping at Bonaly following the relaxing of the Covid restrictions. If you are camping or visiting for the day why not give our new self-led “Camouflage Tracking” activity a go? Working in two teams, the first challenge is to lay a trail of tracking signs for the other group to follow into the “Hiding Area”. Then one member of the team is chosen to hide and is camouflaged by the rest of the team using the equipment provided and natural materials. The teams now follow each other’s tracking signs and attempt to find the hidden person! 

ScotJam@Bonaly was a great weekend with 120 Cubs and Scouts enjoying the sunshine and the Archery, Tomahawk Throwing, Low and High Ropes, Burn ScrambleCamouflage Tracking, and of course the Campfire.  We would like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped to make the weekend possible.

Image: Burn scrambling in the Roman Bath. 

Our maintenance ASU have been hard at work keeping the centre looking good. The Chalet refurbishment is now well underway with new carpets, beds and vanity units. We are now taking bookings from the 1st of October for the new look Chalet and dates are filling up fast! To make an inquiry you can email info@bonaly.org.uk or use our online booking request form.

Image: The New Look Chalet

The Bonaly “Come and Have A Go Day” was very well attended and gave anyone interested in volunteering a chance to take part in some of the activities we have. Everyone had great fun enjoying the Low Ropes, Crate Stack, Burn Scramble, Pioneering skills or some of the Self-led activities we have on offer. Interested in joining our volunteer instructor team? Please get in touch by email or give us a ring on 0131 441 1878.

Image: Well done Sandy – that’s got to be a record! 

Longcraig Update September 2021

Longcraig Update September 2021

Longcraig in the press again!

Over the summer, more steam engine hauled special trains have crossed the famous Forth Bridge (the big red one), to a circular tour of Fife and then back to Edinburgh. Three trips as usual, attract a huge amount of publicity, photographers, and the like on their journeys.

Inevitably, many of the passengers get a great view of Longcraig from their trip across the bridge, and equally inevitably, a number of photo opportunities also included glimpses of our Centre nestled close to the Forth Bridge. And Longcraig pier itself, provides an excellent vantage point for viewing the steam trains for the many hundreds of people who are NOT on board!

And, the new Forth Bridge Visitor Experience Centre has taken steps forward in it’s planning – watch out in the press for further developments and the opportunity to walk up and over the Big Red Bridge!

Also, over the summer, there have been numerous reports of sightings of a striped dolphin in the Firth of Forth. No photos yet, but these dolphins are much less common than the usual varieties that sometimes get seen in the Forth, you can learn more about them here as this report in Wikipedia shows.  

    Longcraig Road update 

    Following a recent enquiry to our local councillors, we have been advised that the road repairs to the Longcraig road are scheduled to take place ‘in mid September’. Not sure if that’s when the work will start, when it will finish, or if it will all be over in a flash! Anyway, much more positive news than anything else! So, for those of you afraid to take your car along the road (that’s probably most of us…..) it’s great news! 

    RE-OPENING of Longcraig – Latest update 

    The relaxation of the lockdown rules which came out in mid August now removes most of the barriers that were in place and which were preventing us from opening up fully to provide activities for young people. 

    However, mid-August comes only two weeks ahead of the point where we are unable to offer evening activity sessions (if you look out your window any time after about 8.30pm you’ll find it’s nearly dark already!) so at most we would only be able to operate over some (not all) of the weekends in September. Tides and lack of water at the wrong times impacts on this too! 

    So, we’ve taken the view, reluctantly, that we will utilise what is left of this season to remain focussed on training and refreshing the staff and instructors in the Longcraig ASU who help with the running of our activities, rather than trying to squeeze in what would only be a small number of activity sessions before the winter close down. We will of course be continuing this training activity through October and possibly into November with a mix of water based and land based activity – we can do this for experienced people because they are better prepared for colder or wetter weather conditions at this time of the year. 

    Watching the sun go down on a very quiet summer at Longcraig! 

    The good news is that we have relatively little ‘winter maintenance’ to do this year because we have managed to cover a lot of this during the long period of lockdown, and especially over this summer when we have been able to open up the Centre a little bit.

    So the indications are that we will be off to a flying start in 2022 and hope for a long and busy and active season once again (like what we used to do!) 

    Planning ahead for 2022

    At this time of year, we start to look ahead to next summer. In additional to ‘just opening up again’ we recognise that many groups may have additional things they would like to consider or plan in around our facilities or skills. 

    So, perhaps your Group is thinking about a Family Day Out? Perhaps you are planning a special camp somewhere that we could come and provide some water activities? Perhaps you would like to get some folks onto a proper training course whether for a qualification, or a proficiency badge, or part of a staged badge scheme? Or perhaps you want to take your Group Executive team out for a day or evening and do something different? Maybe you have some members who have been particularly disadvantaged by the COVID lockdowns, and would benefit from a parent/child opportunity – we can provide this as an on the water experience for them. 

    We can help with any or all of these things – but they need forward planning! 

    If you are having any inklings of thoughts in this direction, please get in touch with us over the next few weeks as we also start to put our calendars and diaries together. The earlier we can get involved, the better we can plan our support for your event! 

    Come and visit the local seals in the Firth of Forth.

    Longcraig Team supports Pink Panther Explorer Unit:

    At the beginning of August, we ran an all-day event over at West Wemyss Bay in Fife for the Pink Panthers Explorers. The Explorers were camping at Wemyss Firs so the location was only 10 minutes walk (5 minutes by mini bus) from the camp site. 

    As with all offsite activities this required a little more planning and effort to make it all happen (including the operating procedures and risk assessments). Backed up by a transport team which hauled a trailer of kayaks from Longcraig across to Fife, and back later, three of the Longcraig instructor team delivered three kayak sessions for 36 Explorers and leaders. The three groups were of different ages and skills, both of which started at the older/more skilled end and reduced over the day. The first group contained some of the Duke of Edinburgh Explorers who had been working with Steve Hankin (the LSC Explorer Leader) on canoe skills and they suddenly had the Eureka moment when they worked out that some of the paddle skills from canoes transfer to a kayak!! 

    All three groups  had the delight of seeing at very close quarters (and maybe too close) the seal pups that were being very inquisitive as they left the rocks to see what strange creatures were approaching! 

    Left image: Briefing session on shore.                                 Right image: Wemyss Bay – scenic paddling location. 

    Pink Panther Wemyss Bay

    Building refurbishment 

    The planned building improvements for Longcraig, which involve modernising toilets, showers and changing facilities, is still going ahead in Autumn 2022 as previously intimated. 

    So, we’ve done some patch work to keep the existing facilities operational, and at present there are still limits on how much we can use these internal facilities, due to the need for ongoing COVID good practice, so we’ve had to take that into account as well. 

    The close down time, and also the limited activities that we have done this year, have led to a need for further consideration of what our needs are in the future, so the plans are being re-assessed to ensure they are future-proofed. 

    This, coupled with the current shortages of building materials, and the number of building contractors that are ‘very busy’ is indicating to us that we will have a need to look at additional funding to boost up that already committed by the Regional Executive. We’ve also got some new opportunities to consider alternative means for heating and lighting and servicing the improved facilities, so that’s all been rolled into the picture too. 

    So, Summer 2022 will see the same Longcraig as before, then we will dismantle and rebuild over the Winter of 2022 to have our shiny new facility up and running for Spring 2023. We’ll arrange a ‘Farewell Old Toilets’ party at the end of our 2022 season!!