So things have been a quiet lately on the "updating the Blog" front, but that is because we have been so busy training for the Fingal Scout County Shield. This is a competition camp where scouts have to build their own sites - including, pitching tents, building altar fires, food preparation and wash-up areas, food and equipment storage, tables and benches, and a gate. They have to maintain it all to a very high standard over the weekend.
They have to cook a test meal and be marked on hygiene, presentation, as well as taste. They have to participate in scouting challenges such as pioneering, navigation, code breaking, first aid, and backwoods skills. They have to prepare a skit and perform it in front of the 150 people attending the campfire.
They have to do all of this while they are being marked on how well they have completed the task and how well they have worked together while also maintaining a log book of the camp. As you can imagine, a lot of preparation needs to go in to an event like this and that is why we have been so busy lately.
The scouts and their scouters started their training at the start of March when Brendan rejoined the section from Ventures. The initial focus was on building a team that would get on well together and really help each other out. There were 12 volunteers for the team, but only 8 could be picked. This was a great problem to have as it meant that everyone would be competing for a place and so do their best. The theme for the camp was "Movies" and the scouts chose to go with The Avengers and Agents of Shield. They named themselves the Black Panther Patrol.
We arranged a day in Bog O The Ring Campsite for all of the scouts to see if we could get the fundamentals of the site built. At this stage 2 or 3 dropped out realizing the amount of work and effort that they wold need to put in. However, everyone, including the scouters, found the day brilliant and saw what a patrol campsite should look like. It will help the whole scout section to aspire to more when they go on camp.
Following that there were plenty of training sessions at weekends and evenings that the usual scout meeting was not on. We used the meeting hall and green area in front of the school as well as Brendan's back garden to perfect the lashings and style of the gadgets.
We did not enter the competition last year so none of the scouts on the team had been to a Shield before. So, as a training camp, we booked in to participate on the Reachra Shield camp in Larch Hill on the first weekend of the Easter Holidays. Reachra is the scout county next to us and we are friends with some of the scouters there from other camps and events as well as just generally being super sound.
The team really pulled together and had a great weekend despite the wind and cold. It stayed dry. There weer a lot of learnings and as a result of the weekend a few tweaks and redesigns could be implemented to make things better for our own competition. Although there were no marks going for the skit, our Black Panther Patrol got up and performed theirs. Everyone laughed at the right times and really enjoyed it, which is encouraging.
When all was said and done, the team achieved Silver Standard, which was amazing and what we were hoping to achieve. They also took home the trophy for the best skit.
Over the Easter Holidays there were a few more training sessions and then all of sudden, it was Friday 3rd May and it was time to get serious.
We arrived on site and were immediately taken aback by the length of the grass. It was waste deep on some of the scouts in places. Unfortunately it had not been cut prior to the competition. This was going to make even more challenging. After a brief opening ceremony, the site build began. Leaders were not allowed near them again. At 9:30 the site build stopped for the evening and the scouts gathered in front of DJ Cuttlefish and his Decks of Doom!!!! (aka Sean and his laptop). The lights were on, the speakers were set and the tunes started pumpin' for all of 2 mins until the generator packed it in. The choke had been left out and it was flooded.
While the scouts were at the "disco", a team of scouters were conducting a safety inspection on the sites to make sure that tents were pitched correctly and nothing was unsafe on the sites. Meanwhile at the disco, the program team improvised and reversed a car up and the laptop was hooked up to it via Bluetooth. They even turned on the hazard lights to make it more disco like. It's important for the scouts to socialize and interact with each other. Following the disco everyone headed for bed knowing that tomorrow was going to be busy.
Site build was from whenever breakfast was finished until lunchtime. The scouts had to get as much done as they could in that time as well as clean up after breakfast and lunch and put everything away neat and tidy. While the scouts were doing that the program team of scouters and ventures set up the bases for the afternoon's activities. They included code breaking, first aid, navigation, backwoods, and pioneering. The scouts were marked on teamwork, cooperation, leadership, inclusiveness, and effort. While they were offsite, their sites were thoroughly inspected for safety, hygiene, and camping standards. How well the tens were pitched. How well the pioneering gadgets (fire, gate, table etc.) were constructed. How good the layout of the site was. It takes a lot of time to go through 12 sites in such detail.
On Saturday evening the scouts prepared a test meal on an open fire and again were marked on preparation, hygiene, presentation and taste, as well as teamwork, cooperation, leadership etc. There were some amazing smells wafting up from the sites and again the standard seems to have been very high. When all the wash-ups were done, it was time for the campfire, which was lead by Brendan. Each patrol had to perform a skit they had made up based on the theme of "Movies". We had everything from the Oscars to Jaws and Avengers to Wizard of Oz and everything in between. Our scouts had prepared an homage to the Avengers, with a bit of a twist. It went down really well and everybody laughed at the appropriate times.