The cubs wanted to go out so we made it happen!
What with fire regulations and dens situation at the moment, the pool of dens that we can access is quite limited but Portmarnock is always one of our favourites. Emma who arranges their bookings is always so accommodating and efficient. We have had this weekend booked for a few months already and the weekend finally arrived.
We decided to walk the cubs from Malahide Train Station to the den. Reasoning? Well why not. It's a coastal walk, a beautiful shoreline and fantastic views and tbh we don't want to be indoors all day, even though Portmarnock Scout Den has a nice little wooded area nearby and a lovely outdoor area.
Rendez-vous time was 10.30am at the Station. There's a funny story about our meeting time on Saturday but you really woulda had to be there :):)! Honestly, no reason to start doubting yourself at all !
We had a plan. Cubs meet at station, myself, Andrea and Winnie walk the kids. Mary and Dimi are back at the den doing the shop and getting re-acquainted with the den. A lot of the time our activities are split like this with scouters out and about and a team at base to take over when we get back. Meanwhile several parents very kindly offered to bring the kids' gear to the den whilst we were walking.
Andrea and I had done the walk a couple of weekends ago. Although familiar with the area she wanted to be sure of the walk. Whilst doing it A took notes and cobbled together a route card (words not bearings etc) which we would ask the kids to follow on the actual day.
Phelim (one of our Beaver Scouters) joined us, the more the merrier we say!
We were ready to go. But before we did, we went over the ground rules, we handed a spare "route card" to Mary and handed out eggs for the kids to keep safe. They like to name and put a face on their eggs, so we had a Steve, Melissa, Guacemole (very popular) and another 8 eggs. We didn't have a Benedict or Fried with us but ah they're young!
So off we went...
We (sorry the kids) followed the route card. Our first break was at the dunes.
We had our hot choc/ribena/drinks and took a moment to appreciate the sand whipping into our faces. It was cold but undeterred we continued on our way. No egg casualties at this stage.
We continued walking along the beach. Beautiful clear skies, white horses and smooth sand. We met several cavaliers (sorry dogs of all sorts) and happily greeted every dog that was happy to say hello. The kids started finding beautiful stones and seashells which we encouraged the cubs to gather and take home.
Cara is a true collector....her bag by the end of the walk was laden with shells and stones and she was very pleased with herself!
We lost an egg - scrambled on a wall.....Aoibheann's egg ... gone!
Next stop High Rock. We had planned on stopping here to let the kids (and us) dip our feet in the sea and because it's sheltered, have lunch and a cuppa. We again set the ground rules. The water was put on the gas stove and lunch boxes cracked open. Along the way we treated to several "Phelim's Facts" which went down well!
We stayed here for a fair bit of the time as the kids weren't ready to move on. We soon heard shrieks and squeals of laughter and the kids had decided that instead of dipping feet they would run away from the waves coming in on the pebbled beach. Some chose not to run away and some ran away but not fast enough. Needless to say there were plenty of wet socks and boots and trousers. So where possible items were swapped for dry ones and we decided to get on the move as the wind was cold and the kids were wet to say the least and we didn't want them getting cold.
So we packed up, counted heads and headed on our way. We crossed the road to Robswall in 3 small groups. This part of the walk wasn't so exciting except that we were joined for a while by a little jack Russel who seemed to want to walk with us and not his master, the reality being that among all the oohs and ahhs he couldn't hear his master's whistle so some of the cubs stopped moving and were quiet and helped guide the chap back to his owner!
At this stage a few of the eggs had taken a hit... one was buried on the beach...one got squashed in a rucksack....
Through a small estate and then we saw the Leisure Center and we arrived at the den close to 2pm.
Wet kids piled in to the den. Immediate instructions were to get out of wet clothes and straight back in to the main hall where hot chocolate was waiting for them. Whilst this was happening we put in an order for chips all around. (The kids didn't know this was part of the plan).
At this point the cubs found some soft plush rugby balls and made their own fun for a while whilst a couple of us ran out to collect the chip order.
We were still blessed with the weather and we had a lot to do. Jackets and hats and boots (or runners in this case) were put on and we headed down the little slope to the small forested area below the den. I LOVE my fire starting but I am very happy to say I'm not the only one and more than happy to step back and let my fellow scouters take this on. Andrea took it on this time and in no time she had a strong fire on the go #heaven! But before a spark was struck the cubs were on a mission to collect as much fire wood as they could - the wood was bone dry, lovely !
Again the matchstick, pencil, thumb rule was applied.
Time to invest one of our cubs who was unable to attend our investiture in the den a couple of months ago. Well done Sadhbh so brave to stand up there!
Mary then kicked things off with a campfire song. Katelyn, Alex, Aimee and Rian all had a go with leading a song which can be daunting and fair dues to all of them they did it and did it really well. They had a good audience too! We sang our hearts out (or made it up if we weren't sure) but it was all great fun and very relaxing. We drew a line under the singing when Mary starting impersonating a mime artist ie her voice went! Emma was a great support with lip reading what Mary was singing :)
The scouters had agreed earlier that day that older cubs would take on the roles of food prep and cooking including being on cleaning duties (ie it would rotate) so the group that were on duty for prep and cooking went inside with Mary, Emma and Winnie. Meanwhile Dimi, Maya and Jenna brought unused gear back to the den and rejoined us at the fire for a bit of quiet time. Time to sit and relax and enjoy the fire.
When we decided to call it a night with the fire Jamie and Rian helped us put out the fire and bring the last bits of gear back up to the den. BTW Rian is a good joke teller!
We closed gates and doors and headed indoors to a lovely smell of well food cooking. It was all action in the kitchen, music on, happy days. Apparently one cub thought we'd like songs from our childhood in the 90s... thank you we will take that. Emma was more thoughtful and put on songs from the 80's....
Table was set quick smart by Aoibheann and Eve. Hands washed, kids at the table and the kids that cooked the food (Niall and Alex) served the food. Mary filled us in (remember we were at the campfire) she showed the kids how to cut a chicken breast and then they continued with the 19 remaining breasts, ditto the peppers and so on. Well the chicken fajitas disappeared in a flash and the curry was gone pretty fast too. There were seconds of curry but not unfortunately of the fajitas, we know for next time! Rice was cooked perfect too. So well done! Then post dinner it was clean up time and then downtime and playing some games that some of my friends have tagged me in the past about and I thought... why not try them ! Thanks Catherine!
Then we settled in for the night...But not before we celebrated three birthday cubs, Michelle, Cathy and Niall!
The night thankfully was uneventful.
Early rise 7.15 am for some of the leaders. Lights on not long after that and coffee made. The breakfast crew comprised of Michelle, Ben, Katie and Jenna had they had to get the breakie going. When we did menu planning with the cubs the previous Tuesday breakfast rolls were voted in the majority and we got cereal for those who didn't want to have one and vegan options for a couple of the kids.
While the cooking was happening the rest of the cubs had to get dressed and get their gear packed away smartish. We will be running a night on how to roll up roll mats and put away sleeping bags as a few of the cubs struggled with this. This is fine, they will learn.
Breakfast was yummy of course, what's not to like bacon! Winnie put out some bowls of grapes and bananas for the kids to nibble on whilst they were waiting. Again once breakie was over it was clean up and cleaning up the den.
We explained to the kids that it had to be put back in the way we had found it. Floors were swept, lost property claimed, muddy boots left at the door and once we were happy the kids exited to the play ground!
So that was the end of our first den sleepover for 2020. Kids had a blast, scouters had a blast and everyone was knackered by the end of it.
You may be wondering what happened to the eggs. Well we had around 4 survivors and the teams who had kept their eggs alive got a little reward! Marta's egg had to have emergency surgery at some stage but made it nonetheless!
We are looking forward to our next activity with the cubs and again a big thank you to parents for helping move gear, Mark for lending us gear and my fellow scouters for giving their time to make these weekends happen! Any further enquiries please call Andrea, she has her phone ready!