Scout Sailing Trip - A Scout's Eye View

This is the story of our 3 day sailing trip. First of all I would like to thank Adrian, our leader, for organising all of this. On the May bank holiday weekend our scouting group went off on a three day sailing trip. We left at six ‘o’clock to arrive at Ipswich docks at around 7:30. Once we arrived we met one of the crew members, Derek, who would be sailing along with us on the yacht. We had a tour of the boat and immediately we all decided who would sleep where on the yacht. Then eventually we were introduced to our Skipper, also called Adrian, and then another crew member called Adrian, Yep… ANOTHER one. We had a Safety briefing and set sail out of Ipswich Docks and we arrived at Felixstowe docks by midnight. By then all the scouts went to bed besides Chris and I. So we put down the Anchor and finally went to sleep. Luckily this was our only late night. The next day we sailed around the channel to see an island that was declared as its own country, a container ship roundabout, and many other awesome things. That night we stayed in a small river, the Blackwater, just about inland. The next day we sailed to Mersea Island and had many great adventures and then for the last night we stayed in an old kind of town with a dock on it just outside of Felixstowe. On the last morning of our journey we watched a few container ships coming into Felixstowe and unfortunately had to head back into Ipswich docks. But before we left we had one last surprise. We were hoisted up the mast! It was so much fun. We were put in a harness and hoisted up the main mast to look over the whole of Ipswich docks and view the town.

All in all this was the best sailing trip of my life so far and I would really advise to go on the sailing trip again.  A huge thank you to the skipper and mates from Adventures Offshore for putting up with us.

A Very Happy Scout,

Jacob

Scouts were briefed and prepared for a night hike along the river. Devious leaders had other plans!

As we entered  North Fambridge Yacht Haven we met up with Essex Coastguard and the river Police on a search and rescue exercise! Not at all what was expected...

Liam (police) and Scott (coastguard) ran through the equipment in their respective 4x4 vehicles. Throw lines, floats, stretchers, mud walkers, flares, handcuffs, and batons...all sorts of interesting stuff and we learned a lot from them. River Police Ninja mode seems to have stuck in peoples heads!

Ready to start the search
Ready to start the search

Life jackets on, we headed down to the pontoon for a look round the Police RIB. What a fun toy  to play with!

On with the search, reports of a body in the water...somewhere. Two teams of Scouts scoured the moorings from the water in the Police RIB and from the pontoon looking for the injured party. It took some finding but eventually eagle eyed Scouts (you know who you are) spotted the casualty from the water and directed the land crew in to the rescue. No Harry you don't normally find injured people tethered to a nearby pontoon, well not unless it wasn't an accident.

Recovery from the water was scary from the perspective of nearby leaders, imagining all the forms to fill in on losing a Scout.  Safely on the pontoon, injuries were assessed and the stretcher deployed to recover the victim. OK, she was dead! Four brave young Scouts completed the rescue by stretchering her to the RIB and were repaid for their efforts by being "wee'd on" by the corpse finally losing the last vestiges of her dignity.

Night Hike - Warming up afterwards
Night Hike - Warming up afterwards

Returning to the relative safety of the shore for a swift, warming tramp back to base, hot chocolate and finish.

Thanks to all those who made a memorable meeting possible: Essex Coastguard, and the Police, Scott, Liam and their respective teams and not least North Fambridge Yacht Haven for once again tolerating us wandering round their land and facilities.

Apologies to anyone trying to have a quiet evening on their boat. The combined efforts of 8 noisy Scouts with accompanying adults, and  the Police RIB creating rather more wash than is normal in the marina must have spoiled your evening.  Sorry!

A rather nervous  group of North Fambridge Scouts arrived at 1st Runwell Scout Hut to try out their 3d Maze. We met an equally apprehensive contingent from Bicknacre Priory Scout Group not quite sure what to expect.

The answer is two tall ladders reaching up to doors in the ceiling, the doors being connected by a network of wooden tunnels in the roof space. Somewhere in the middle a small miracle occurs transforming the nervous and apprehensive into triumphant and exhilarated Scouts. It works even better with the lights out, although for some reason Scouts emerge rather sweatier than you might expect!

Scouts awaiting their turn, get to watch and listen to their friends going through the maze courtesy of the strategically placed cameras. This is a bit of a mixed blessing as, once Scouts realise where the cameras are, the inevitable consequence occurs...you just need to know it is a very good thing the stream is not being recorded.

BP leaders fearlessly entered into the spirit of the occasion and disappeared into the void, emerging some time later comparatively unscathed. Thanks guys. As a result NF leader is shamed into following suit...ok, ok....dragged kicking and screaming and dispatched into the nearest tunnel. Wait till we find out who turned the lights out half way round!

Oh and 1st Runwell have a rather splendid boulder wall too....Thanks to them and Bicknacre Priory for a great meeting. If you're looking for a special troop night event this is good stuff!

 

Scouts were asked to bring a scary story to contribute to the evening. We intended to sit outside in the dark on the river bank and scare them to death, but in the face of torrential rain and fffffrrrreeeezing cold we retreated to the hall, with lights out and the eerie red glow of the heaters the scene was set.

Strange tales came out featuring crazed murderers, ghostly dogs, long dead children and nice fresh corpses. We had haunted churches and ghostly mansions. Rather oddly we got mixed up with a bread based monster that vomited rainbows and did unspeakable things to the dreams of brownies. Really, don't ask - we have called in specialists to help.

Stories were read out, recited by heart (well done Jacob) and invented on the spot. Shrieks, growls and creaking doors featured on the sound effects list. When confusion reigned we even acted out the events so everyone got the punch line (the hook was on the car door handle, Max). All in all a good evening's work...perhaps next year we'll try it round a camp fire. Come and join us if you dare?

We stand with Paris and all victims of terrorism.
We stand with Paris and all victims of terrorism.

Games night started seriously with a discussion about the events in Paris. We talked about the detail of the attacks and the experience of victims and survivors. Exploring what drives people to such acts was challenging with Scouts understanding the conflict between empathy, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, justice, crime and punishment. It's a complicated world!

 

Games Night - Scouts at Play
Games Night - Scouts at Play

Changing the mood we switched to a shortened Games night. Scouts had brought in their favourite games to share. From the selection available we ended up playing Cluedo, Pigs and 4 handed chess. For those who don't know this involves four players in two teams and a rotating chess board. Very confusing for old brains so leaders as always comprehensively beaten.

Badge Presentations are always interesting. Tonight we had a talk on Flight and the Spitfire with demo paper planes. This lead to an interesting discussion on price inflation since the war! Well done to Jacob and Elias for completing Stage 1 of their Air Activities badge.

Next up Chris with local knowledge on the Maldon area. Did you know the doctor to patient ratio in Maldon? Nor did we but we do now! Good job Chris. Badge well earned.

Finally Knotty Nick with more jokes than knots in his talk. Looking forward to seeing your pioneer siege engine when it is ready.

Joanne in charge! Be very afraid...
Joanne in charge! Be very afraid...

Our activity for the evening was rope work. What happens when scouts, ropes and knots get mixed up? Well the answer is a teamwork challenge for trussed up scouts to get to the other side of the hall. They made it and we did release them eventually. Honest!

Our Scouts attended Holy Trinity Church on Remembrance Sunday, our first Parade Service since rebooting the group. Flags and holders had been found and checked. Scouts were well turned out and ready to play their part.

We performed well under pressure and played our full part in the service. It was good to see Jack and Beryl made it to the service and to have their guidance on doing it right!

Well done Scouts.

Scouts before locating mud
Scouts before locating mud

For our first camp in ages we went to Gilwell Park for ScareFest at Halloween. Our miniature contingent of 3 Scouts teamed up with 1st Burnham, led by Simone (now SimOne) and their even smaller contingent of 1 Scout for the event.

We actually arrived early but still had to set up camp in the dark. Thank goodness we had practiced so there was rather less wailing and gnashing of teeth than might have been the case. The first disaster (broken tent pole) was neatly side stepped as we brought a spare! ("Be Prepared" does work you know...)

Having dealt with the mundane camp chores and fed the ravenous beasts we headed off to explore the site. The evening found us playing dodgems in the dark, juggling with fire, making new friends and eating chips. Hmmm...not in the plan but nothing like chips to unite scouts!

Flagpole with Gargoyle
Flagpole with Gargoyle

We retired exhausted to bed sometime after 10pm and with only a brief growl-at-maliciously-laughing-scout moment at 3am (yes Max you know who that was), calm reigned until morning.

Our first job of the day was to demolish breakfast which was done rapidly and in some style. First Burnham (ok Charlie) managed a whole extra breakfast through devious means although he paid the price later in the day! Then we headed off to build our flag pole. Take one pile of wood, a pile of cord and a pile of scouts, stir vigorously and prod until completed, hey presto a flagpole with the head of an unlucky scout on top. All those pioneering knots paid off (It's a clove hitch, boys). The gargoyle was named variously little Bob, little Jim and little Richard.

Demon Dodgems
Demon Dodgems

On to the activities proper and we spent the day on dodgems, sweeper, making dough twists, more dodgems, archery, fire juggling, apple bobbing, even more dodgems, making new friends and...chips (sorry, we did try not to, honest). First Burnham (ok, Charlie) set the bar in food and drink consumption but this was an event with only one competitor and a predictable outcome in the form of an "unwell" Scout!

In the early evening the Scouts suddenly flagged and we were forced to retire, defeated, before the fireworks and laser show. All repaired to bed properly exhausted, until the 3am call of the toilet woke the scouts rather more than was entirely desirable. Another, rather louder, growl-at-maliciously-laughing-scout moment (yes Max you know who that was) and we made it to Sunday.

Human Fly
Human Fly

Carefully laid plans for Sunday were hampered by a later start than we had intended. Breakfast was still hoovered up by the two legged eating machines who went on to complete the ceremonial dismantling of the camp flag pole and starting to pack. Having said goodbye to 1st Burnham and their leader SimOne we returned to the fray.

Sunday morning activities saw Scouts ascending the climbing wall, shooting air rifles and climbing the wobbly ladder (much harder than it sounds). Having completed most of what was on offer, we reluctantly headed back to camp. Packing required only the lightest application of horse whip, cattle prod and verbal encouragement. Eventually everything was back in

What on earth...?
What on earth...?

the van and Scouts delivered home via the evils of the "Golden Arches".

Overall declared a successful camp by Scouts, leaders were just happy it was all safely over until next time. Especial thanks to SimOne, leader in charge!

The full story in pictures is in our ScareFest Gallery

Camping at ScareFest at the weekend meant tents to prepare and the all important flagpole to plan. This is the first camping trip since the relaunch of the Scout Troop so there was lots to plan and check. Busy Scouts did complete their tasks in the allotted time but it was a close run thing. Even the dry run of the flagpole (assembled from pioneering sticks and cord) seemed viable if a little ambitious.

Whilst there was some thought that a scout could be impaled on the flagpole as camp gargoyle, there was little consensus as to the ideal victim (well, Max but it seemed a little harsh). Instead we opted to make a gory head to be the crowning glory.

Preparations complete we called it a day.

Night Walk - Last Minute Checks
Night Walk - Last Minute Checks

The task was for teams to navigate by torchlight to a location and then fix an exact position by triangulation. From the final position we were to take the bearing of the other group. Along the way each team had to cope with junctions, crossing open ground, local compass divergence and other obstacles.

The Scouts split into 2 groups, each with a leader, torches, compass and cryptic instructions and set off into the darkness.

Night Walk - First team on their way...
Night Walk - First team on their way...

Following the compass bearings to navigate the path, Team A eventually reached their destination on the river bank via the pub (no drinking, Scouts) and various obstacles.

Team B was soon spotted heading up to join them on completely the wrong path and promptly sent back for a rethink! It turns out that a brick wall is not actually a large sign, and marching through the private boat yard was of dubious legality (sorry North Fambridge Yacht Haven). Eventually both groups ended up in their correct locations and the task completed.

Night Walk - Is this right?
Night Walk - Is this right?

We had hoped, for an added bonus, to be rewarded with a meteor shower as the Orionids should have been at their peak. Unfortunately leaders failed to organise a clear night sky and cloud cover rather spoiled the plan.

Scouts made their way back to the hall to finish the evening in the traditional way with a prayer and hot chocolate.

Weekly meeting in the hall to prepare for night time manoeuvres next week. For orienteering training, we used a compass to take bearings of objects around the hall and practiced walking along a bearing. Finally we figured out how to plan a route with map and compass, which is easy in a warm dry hall and MUCH harder outside in the cold and wet!

Pioneer Basketball with the wreck of a bridge support!
Pioneer Basketball with the wreck of a bridge support!

In a fit of madness we then tried to repeat our bridge building exploits of last week using our scouts pioneer kit. The words pathetic failure seem appropriate but there were some lessons learned. Most important, use long enough bits of rope or a clove hitch does not hold!

The debris served as a goal for basketball scoring practice which is pretty much all it was fit for.

Enjoy your successes, learn from your failures, carry on regardless.

After the Scout meeting the leaders met to work on plans for Beavers and Cubs sections. Any young people of the right age or parent helpers, please get in touch!

Pioneers - Has it stopped raining yet?
Pioneers - Has it stopped raining yet?

The true pioneer spirit came out as Lone Wolf patrol bravely headed out into the cold wet dark night - mission: build a bridge!

Under the expert guidance of a limbo dancer with backache (wait for it...) the project got underway. After some time and about four million knots (it's a clove hitch, Max) two towers rose gracefully from the mud to become the supporting structure for the bridge over the crocodile infested swamp.

Pioneers - Limbo 3 (lesson learned Jo?)
Pioneers - Limbo 3 (lesson learned Jo?)

Blank, rather shocked, expressions became standard issue with the dawning realisation that the bridge was to be a single pole, and the crocodiles, leaders with specially sharpened teeth! Scouts reacted in the traditional way but having failed to escape they took to dancing (is that what they call this kind of limbo?). for the complete evidence file, see the gallery.

Finally, with even distraction techniques failing them, they moved from limbo to the pole dance, well some tried to dance across the bridge anyway. Max was the undoubted superstar of this part of the event. There were some rather less efficient crossings including glorious failure by an un-named leader.

Pioneers - Go Max! The circus is calling...
Pioneers - Go Max! The circus is calling...

After wounded pride had been suitably patched up, the Scouts cleared up their mess with comparatively little coercion required. Big thank you to Skreens Park for looking after us so well. If you are looking for a venue for this kind of madness, it's a great place. We will be back!

See the photo gallery for the whole sorry story....that's Pioneer Bridge Building as tackled by 1st North Fambridge!

We started work on the new round of badges this week.  Scouts prepared plans to work on aviation, cooking, local knowledge and pioneering. They are going to be busy!

Scouts balloon dance after preparing for autumn Badges
Scouts balloon dance!

We talked about ways to contribute to the local community and the scouts are firming up ideas for the autumn.

Balloons

...and  then....well...balloons appeared as if by magic attached with varying degrees of security and open warfare ensued.

Scout reversing hazard
Scout reversing hazard

We experimented with different rules and playing styles: the "killer hug",  "mob attack" and "snatch and grab" did well. Overall we decided the balloons won which was a surprising result! Next time cheaper balloons.

Scouts retired from the affray bearing many scalps in the the form of balloon debris dangling from string on their belts.

Next week building bridges...

Squaring up for the duel
Squaring up for the duel

Starting from our hall in the dark with rain threatening we disturbed different parts of the village driven by the randomness of a coin expertly wielded by Max who was elected troop tosser for the event (hmm...).

Mystery Tour - Something starting with...
Mystery Tour - Something starting with...

The lone wolves prowled about to complete an A-Z of items sustained by a diet of blackberries harvested along the route. Thanks to the person flying a Union Jack (well spotted Chris) the alphabet was covered in short order.

Ably led by patrol leader and second we completed the task in mostly good order. No-one was arrested or hospitalised and the rain held off so it's all good! To anyone wondering about the minor riot passing their house, now you know what was going on.

Mystery Tour - Night Walk
Mystery Tour - Night Walk

Apologies if your evening was disturbed. Being inside you wouldn't have seen the fabulous moon which made it all worth while.

Mystery Tour - the line dance????
Mystery Tour - the line dance????

We met to discuss plans for the autumn/winter and to allocate tasks for the season. The lone wolves patrol will be led by Jacob for the period assisted by Chris as second. Jack, our retiring leader, was sadly not well enough to be there but was represented by Beryl. The scouts wished Jack well and thanked them both for all they have done over the years.

Rollerball - Defending the Goal
Rollerball - Defending the Goal

Rollerball was the game of the night which went down well with all concerned.  The competitive nature of certain scouts came to the fore (you know who you are) as the referees were tested to their limit. A 2-0 victory was the well deserved result for those who stuck to the rules!

Jack and Beryl  Wratten have been at the centre of Scouting in North Fambridge since long before our current crop of Scouts were born!

After a difficult summer health-wise they have decided that this is the right time to hang up their woggles and see if the Scouts can cope without them. We can't, but in the best spirit of Scouting we'll do our best and see how we get on.

On behalf of the many young people who Jack and Beryl have helped through Scouting over the years, thank you both for all you have done.  You will be missed but not forgotten!