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First Ever Camp @ Fingal Scout County Shield - Larch Hill

This was a momentous occasion for 89th Bremore Scout Group. It was our first camp. The Regional Shield is a campcarft competition for all scouts groups in a particular area or “Scout County”. We are in Fingal Scout County. We had hoped to participate in the competition, but we quickly realised that the scouts would not be up to this type of challenge yet and it might do more damage than good, and besides, we still don’t have the equipment to facilitate such an endeavour.

Brendan and Ciaran headed up on the Saturday afternoon. Alan along with PLs Emma & Ella, and APLs Jessica, Luke, & Adam were joining them on Sunday morning to stay over until Monday. Aoife could not make the trip as she was away with her family. Our friends in 98th Skerries kindly donated some tents, gadget poles and a Patrol Box to us for the weekend.

When Brendan & Ciaran arrived up on site in Larch Hill, they pitched up their tents and were given jobs to do straight away. There were 11 teams competing and they needed to be marked on various activities. Ciaran helped with the pioneering project (Building a Look Out Tower) on the Saturday afternoon, while Brendan got the job of marking the cooking competition with Stephen from Brackenstown and Ron from Skerries Sea Scouts. The scouts are marked on everything from food prep & hygiene to presentation & timing to wash-ups. Taste has very little to do with it. As long as the scouts are eating properly and the food is cooked correctly it’s all ok

Rush built an Hour Glass Watch Tower

Skerries Wigwam Patrol built a Platform Watch Tower

The Theme for the Camp was light and most patrols had a light on their gate in some shape or fashion. They were to try to incorporate it into their activities and meals if possible for extra marks. We were blessed with the weather and the final light of day on the Saturday evening really set things up for the camp.

On the Saturday night the scouts had some free time to mingle and visit each others sites to get ideas on what they could do differently to improve their own sites or even take away ideas for next year. It was lights out at 11:15 and everyone headed for bed. It was a cold night. A REALLY COLD as a matter of fact, but them is the breaks.

On Sunday morning our intrepid scouts arrived along with Alan. We grabbed all of the gear from the car park and brought it straight to the site. The scouts were nervous, but soon snapped out of it when they realised that they had to pitch tents and build an Altar Fire and Table (Things they had never done before). First was the tents. The 3 girls were sharing and the two lads were sharing. They were small tents so they went up quickly. I think the scouts were surprised by how quickly. Next we built an Altar Fire using LOTS of square lashings, which we learned at the start of the year. We used a beer keg cut in half to sit the fire in. Next we moved on to a table. This was put together with Tripod lashings and more square lashings. Brendan took Ella & Jessica off to scavenge for a table top and found on in the wood pile by the campfire circle. All of the passing leaders commented on how well the fire and table looked.

Tents, Table & Fire

The shield teams were competing in an egg flinging competition (you had to be there) and our lot observed before sitting down to lunch at their very own table. Ciaran was heading off site on the Hike for the afternoon so while the sites were being inspected, Brendan took Alan and the scouts around all of the sites to show them about and see what they thought. There were some brilliant ones and some that needed improving, but the Bremore scouts were very impressed and took away some ideas for next year when they will be competing. After the look around the sites, Brendan, who has been to Larch Hill a number of times, took the Bremore group on a tour of the entire camp site.

Emma, Ella, Jessica, Alan, Luke, & Adam at the Old Swimming Pool.

By the time they got back, the Look Out Towers were just about finished and the hike teams were returning. That meant it was time to gather some wood for the fire to cook the dinner on. It was the perfect opportunity to do some tool work and each of the scouts got a chance to swing an axe, use a knife, and use a saw. We needed plenty of wood to keep the fire hot enough to boil water for our pasta. Brendan and Ciaran were marking the meals again so that left Alan in charge of the cooking……….

Ella & Jessica making feather sticks

Brendan and Ciaran were marking the meals again for the scouts competing in the Shield so that left Alan in charge of the cooking………. It took a few attempts to get the fire going and it took a few goes for Emma to chop the onions and not her fingers. OUCH!! But dinner was ready on time and was delicious. A billy was put on the fire to heat the water for wash-ups and our scouts worked really well as a team to get it all cleaned up and tidies away before it got dark.

With that all done, we put on our jackets and headed for the Campfire. As you can see, it was a big one. Dan from Rush was leading it. He got everyone yup and moving and having fun with songs about Penguines and Zombies with crazy actions and verses. Each Patrol had to do a campfire skit. A quick sketch to show off how “talented” they were. Again, they tried to incorporate the theme of Light into the skit if possible. Some were funny, some were very short and others were way too long, but all were enjoyable. After a while, Dan asked for volunteers to sing a song and of course Brendan was straight in there with “I said a Boom”. Our PLs & APLs didn’t know may of the songs and seemed a bit confused by it all, but in the end they were singing along and joining in with the actions. Camfires are fun and you are meant to look silly at them, but maybe it will take a bit of time for our Scouts to learn this. After the Campfire, we headed for bed.

On Sunday morning Luke and Adam were up bright and early – about 7:15 am, but they had to wait a while for the girls to get up before they could have some breakfast. Brendan, Alan, & Ciaran didn’t get up until about 8:30 and had a nice leisurely breakfast in the the leaders Mess tent.We didn’t have anything to do in the morning so we headed up the field out of Larch Hill and on to Klilmaseogue Lane and then up the Wicklow Way towards Ticknock. It was a beautiful morning and the whole of Dublin was visible from the hills and Brendan pointed out some local “attractions” on the south side where he grew up.

We were back for about 12 and started to break camp. We took down the fire and table and gathered all of the sisal and gadget poles together along with the keg. We left the tents up so that the scouts could get changed into their uniforms for the closing ceremony. All of the scouts had to have a final inspection of their sites and have the marks added to their total so that the winners could be announced. When the points were tallied, all of the groups lined up in their patrols for the presentation.

Patrols lined up for presentation

There were 5 prizes in total. The cooking Competition was won by 98th Skerries Teepee patrol. The Campcaraft and Logbook were won by 34th Balbriggan Stag Patrol. Brackenstown Wolf patrol won the Campfire Skit competition. The overall winners were the Stag Patrol from Balbriggan and deservedly so. They had the best site and probably came close in the Cooking Competition and Skit.

Shield Winners 2015 Stag Patrol

Our Scouts really enjoyed the camp and even got a mention at the closing ceremony form the Camp Chief, Dave Morgan, saying that he hoped to see them competing next year. We sincerely hope that they will be next year too. Now they know what is involved and the standards that they need to achieve. It was a real eye opener. Perhaps I’ll ask them to write a short post themselves to see how it was from their perspective.

Congrats to Balbriggan and all the Scouts and Leaders who participated in a great camp.

It’s onwards and upwards for #89thBremore

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