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Cubs - Pioneering Day - Larch Hill 19 October 2019

We had been looking forward to our first proper outing with our Cubs for the new 2019/2020 cub year. A Pioneering/Backwoods Day. However disaster struck the morning before the day itself, due to heavy rainfall the campsite we were going to spend our day in was unusable. No panic as such but certainly a rush of brainstorming suggestions amongst the scouters for a new venue as we didn’t want to let the kids down. We settled on Larch Hill very quickly. Phew!

We arrived at Larch Hill with a healthy number of 12 cubs plus 4 leaders.

We knew it was going to rain, the views of the mountains were a bit of a give away (even if you hadn't done a forecast check!) so we decided that we would get through as much of the day as we could and if it became miserable for everyone we would call it. Thankfully it didn't come to that.

First things first where were we going to base ourselves. Mary and Fiona found a nice spot but as soon as we walked back to the kids a misty rain started coming down as well as a slight breeze so we rethought it and moved to another field nearby. We were now sheltered from the wind and not exposed to full on rain. Yes the trees would keep dripping on us but you can’t have everything….

Once settled on a spot the cubs went with us down to collect some pioneering poles. They worked in pairs and as a time saver they took two poles each.

We got straight into it with Mary taking the lead on showing the kids their lashings. We all dug in to give a hand and the cubs had a turn at trying out their clove hitch know that they’d learnt over the last few weeks. They all did really well and despite the rain there wasn’t a single complaint.

Another team led by Katie went scouring for wood – they weren’t going to find “dry” wood per se however they found wood that hadn’t been exposed completely to the rain and even though the bark was wet the inside was still dry. We shoved all the bits the kids found under our tarp to stop it getting any wetter. Team Katie did a great job !

Soon enough there were mumblings of “I’m hungry, can we eat”. Of course says Andrea, you don’t need to wait, you’re hungry then eat! So soon enough lunches starting popping up here and there.

Whilst the cubs were making two tripods and attaching spars etc Jenna and Alex followed by Rian and Saoirse got started on an altar fire (raised fire). We were keen to get a fire started, one for heat, two for food and three it’s the best thing on camp (shhhh I didn’t just say that!).

Despite the rain we got a lovely fire going very quickly. Any bits of damp wood were kept on the side of the fire to dry them out and because they were thin they dried quickly. Dimi, Andrea and James took the ax and kept a steady flow of wood coming. Hmm if only you could bottle the smell of campfire….

We know we are youth led but once the work was done and the site was tidied up of any excess poles (again the cubs paired up and put the poles back into storage) the kids disappeared into the forested area right beside our base. At one point coats were coming off with all the fun happenings going on in the woods.

We left them to it and got the sausies (meat and vegan) and bacon on the pan. Dimi our resident chef was more than happy to oblige under the watchful eyes of Rian, James and Saoirse (another fire starter!). Andrea and James kept on top of the wood supply interspersed with additions from Katie.

As soon as the kids got the scent of cooking food they came back to base. We had rolls and ketchup to hand. Now it was food time. Nothing beats tasty bacon (or sausies) on a day out in the misty rain. Delicious! Happy to say the vegan sausies were sampled by many and why not! There was full and plenty to go around.

The plan was to (if we had the time) make bread on a stick. Time didn’t allow. However Fiona had made some the night before and shared it out with a couple of the cubs who wanted to have a go. Next time guys, we promise. We had plain bread and my own personal one had dates added to it.

Bread on a stick is not something to be rushed or you end up with, well, burnt something on a stick so everyone who was baking bread took a breath whilst the others ran off to continue their games.

We were joined by some beaver scouts and their leaders who were very impressed with the cubs' gadget and bread making skills!

Marta (who shall now be known as the “Marshmallow Queen”) had two bags of massive marshmallows stuffed in her day bag. We all made short work of those beauties. We are all forever grateful to the Marshmallow Queen). There was no end to them ! Caragh even popped one in her hot chocolate! And no names but someone tried to see if their marshmallow would cook over steam. Look we'll give anything a go!

At one point Andrea showed a couple of us how to coil a rope, no better woman she was born to do it “Coyle the coiler” and she did a great job showing us. We will be bringing said rope with us again (and Coyle) because part of the kids badge work involves being able to coil a rope so we will make sure they get this skill. It’s really not difficult, but nothing is once you know how.

We had also decided to have hot chocolate and of all the wet rainy days, Saturday was the day to have it. Dimi according to Rian makes the “second best hot chocolate” Yes John, you are still the best hot chocolate maker! We had enough for seconds.

Soon it was time to start dismantling the pioneering gadget the kids had started on. We were hoping to make it into a table but we reckoned they had done very well with the gadget at this point. So watch this space.

With marshmallow in one hand or a mug of hot chocolate, everyone took a go at undoing the sisal which because it got wet was now so tight we would have been tempted to slice it off (only kidding for the sisal masters reading this). We took our time and got it all off without cutting it!

We did a sweep of the area and collected any rubbish including rubbish that wasn’t ours #leavenotrace. Making sure we had everything, we made our way to the car park where parents were waiting.

We asked the kids (and we will do a proper review on Tuesday) if they enjoyed their day “10 out of 10”, “fantastic day”, “loved it” and “fun” were the words being bandied around.

I can only say and I am sure my fellow scouters will agree, we had a fabulous time, the kids were super, they all helped out in their own ways, memories were being created (hopefully many more to follow), they all had such a positive attitude despite the rain and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves too, getting to know the cubs and see them coming out of their shells more.

As for these three can't take them anywhere!

Once we got home leaders who had gear (including sisal) got it all back into shape, sparkly and clean, and the sisal (fibrous material) got dried out in the warmth and heat of our homes, and wrapped up and put away for our next outing, which we will be planning in the next few weeks.

A MASSIVE THANK YOU to Mark H who loaned us some of his gear to allow us to have our day out in Larch Hill. Thank you so much it’s so appreciated!

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