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Scouts & Ventures - Pioneering & Backwoods Weekend

The scout section held their first activity of the new year this weekend. A troop of excited scouts and scouters converged, early doors, Saturday morning at Portmarnock Scout den, our temporary home for the night.

Once all the scouts and ventures had arrived we kicked off with a scouts own. Here we were reminded of our scout promise and law to do our best, help one another – the youth learn from the old (like Brendan and Donal) and the adults learn from the youth (scouts, ventures and the two Fiona's).


From there the day started off with a bang, or rather, a spark as the patrols, along with the Venture crew, had a refresher on their pioneering and backwoods skills. The patrols worked together to put their newly perfected pioneering skills to practice, building an alter fire using two Tripods and two half-barrels. There was some impressive lashings and frappings in evidence.

Once their engineering masterpiece was finished we proceeded down to the Venture camp in the nearby woods where the scouts and scouters had a knife safety refresher session with Brendan. We wanted the kids to make two feather sticks before we even struck a flint and stee! Remember Ballinteer?


Meanwhile, the ventures headed straight for the woods to set up their camp. They were going to be sleeping out in hammocks and cooking a backwoods lunch so they needed to get their fire going straight away. They set to work gathering fire wood and learning the correct techniques for lighting fires and chopping logs.

Luke and Darragh offered to prepare lunch for everyone. The ventures had decided to have Pitta Pocket Pizzas with Salami and Chicken. Unfortunately, they had never made them before so we ended up with pitta sandwiches rather than pockets. The first round were, lets say, slightly well done, but round two was perfect. Well done guys.

After lunch, it was time to set up the hammocks and gear/wood bivvy to keep them dry while Brendan gave a knife and axe safety talk and demonstration to the scouts.


Once there were feather sticks aplenty, they quickly got to work on cooking a delicious lunch of sausages, bacon and salmon, backwoods style, on the open fire. The food came out perfectly. Even the pioneering poles got a good cooking…

With some help from the scouters, they perfected their lashings and knots, something that the whole troop has been working hard on during our weekly Thursday meetings. It wasn’t long before the Scouts had worked up a good appetite… again.

Our MasterChefs began to prepare their evening dinner. Italian themed spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread. Scouters Mary and Seán, who were attending the provincial conference in Cavan that morning, arrived with spectacular timing just as the finishing touches were put on dinner.

While the Wash-ups were going on, Brendan unlocked the climbing wall and everyone got to have a go. There were competitions to see who could traverse the wall the fastest and who could get across just sticking to 2 colours, and for some it was tricky enough even using all of the holds. We'll tell you one thong though, there was some incentive to get out of the kitchen and get the wash-ups done in record time.

After wash-up was completed and we were done with the wall, the Scouts had some downtime.


As evening turned to night, the den was transformed into Bremore’s private cinema. After a few obstacles, mainly the film being in a mix of Japanese and Polish, the scouts settled down for an exclusive Netflix screening of Dr. Strange. As is a common theme with these activities, there was more food, in this case popcorn and hot chocolate.


Adam did the shopping for the ventures following a quick menu planning last Wednesday. For dinner the ventures were having sausages with baked potatoes. Aisling and Ella were on prep, which involved wrapping the spuds in tin-foil and bringing the sausages down from the fridge in the den.

The potatoes were going to take a while so they were bunged in first. To make the site more comfortable, Brendan suggested building benches to sit on around the fire. The ventures scoured the forest for suitable logs and found a few. Then stakes were cut and sharpened and hammered into the ground with a bush hammer (small log). Cross bars were tied on using a new double square lashing and then finally the long logs were placed on top to make the benches. Comfy. The ventures were joined by a few local kids who were intrigued to see people camping in the woods. They invited them to sit down and enjoy the fire. The bus telly gained a few more viewers. That's what it's all about.

Shortly after it got dark, the sausages went on over the spuds. When they came out of the fire, the baked potatoes were amazing. So so good. Jamie, Nick, and Ben were kindly volunteered to be on wash-ups. It was only a few plates and bowls. That's the beauty of #Backwoods cooking.


After the movie the scouts got ready to turn in for the night and, after a long day, we nodded off at around half twelve – a spectacularly early bedtime by Scouting standards. [Fiona interjecting here... Sean more like 2.30am zzzzzzzzz]


Some of the ventures enjoyed the climbing wall and movie too and a special mention goes out to Rhys for introducing the challenge elements of the traversing to make it more exciting even if Seanie from scouts did beat Brendan's time by 5 seconds. Following the movie, it was time to head for the hammocks. Most of the ventures looked like the Michelin Man they were so layered up going to bed.


The next morning started off slow. With an unusual lie-in and a lot of snoozing of alarm clock’s we all got up. Breakfast was a sophisticated affair. French toast and bacon accompanied by a healthy (not really) serving of maple syrup. Interrupted occasionally by the fire alarm.

As the weekend came to a close, the troop took to the adjoining woods once more. This time for a more formal occasion. It was time to invest our younger scouts, and scouter, formally into the group.


It was a cold night, but everybody slept and kept warm in the hammocks. Brendan was up bright and early as a call from Fiona L woke him up. Apparently there was some issue with the smoke alarm going off and he had the keys. Rhys got the fire going from the embers of the fire from the night before. That's the sign of a good fire. Following a quick breakfast, the tarps and hammocks were taken down and packed away. The scouts arrived down for an investiture. It's always best to do it outdoors.

Following that the site was cleared and returned to an even better condition than it was found. Leave No Trace

It was all hands on deck to make sure that the den was left spotless. The Beavers are going for a sleepover there in a few months time so we wanted to make sure they would still be welcome.


Thanks to Portmarnock Scouts & Guides for the loan of the den for the night. By all standards, everyone had a blast. We're sure all the scouts & ventures will be regaling everyone with stories of the weekend for a long time to come. What a way to kick off 2019 for 89th Bremore’s Scout Group.

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