!!!!!!!! CAMP !!!!!!!!
It's been a long time since we have had anything to blog about, but with the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine and reduction on travel restrictions, we have been able to get some scouts out on an overnight camp again.
We did the whole online Zoom Meeting thing from March to July last year and again from October through to April. When we could, we met at the beach to go kayaking or swimming or just to play some games in a wide open space and see each other face to face.
Overnight activities, though, are where scouts really learn to fend for themselves and bond with their peers. We have had some patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders who never really got to excel in their roles. We had scouts who wanted to push on from their amazing achievements at the Shield and Phoenix 2019. We had scouts join us that never really figured out what the patrol system was all about. Let's just say it has been a struggle to keep our scouts engaged and enthused for the past 16 months or so.
That said, we had a core group in our PLs and APLs who were looking forward to meeting up with their former PLs and APLs in Ventures in September. Although we do have a 3 night Annual Camp booked for a few weeks' time, the scouters felt that these scouts deserved a night away on their own to help them bond before continuing on their scouting trail in Ventures. In order to facilitate social distancing and remain within Scouting Ireland guidelines, it was decided that we would hammock in Larch Hill.
This is what went down.
The scouts had planned the whole camp themselves from booking in with Larch Hill to deciding what activities they would do and what they would eat. We met in the car park of Larch Hill at 12 o'clock on Saturday. It was already very busy with lots of cub and beaver groups availing of the fantastic amenities for day activities. There were other scout and venture groups about to. We were told to head to the woods above Kellys Field (furthest away from the toilet block). When we got there, another group was already hammocking there so we moved down a bit to the Upper Dolmen. Brendan took out the hammocks and tarps and showed everyone how to hang them. It took a little bit of time, but when they were up, they were secure and comfy.
After a quick snack, we gathered up our day bags and headed out for a hike to the Hellfire Club. Molly had prepared a route card which took us down to Rockbrook and across Mount Venus Road. Brendan suggested that they head up through Massey Woods as it was more scenic and safer than walking on the road. The stories came out about the infamous VOID Hike (read all about it here). It's now one of the legends of our group history and will recanted around many campfires to scare new scouts in the future. In Masseys the tunes were blasted from a portable speaker. Everything from Michael Jackson to AC/DC. It lifter the spirits a bit and made walking that little bit easier.
When we arrived at the base of Montpelier Hill, the decision was made to tackle the steep route straight up the side of the hill rather than go the long way around. Some of us may have regretted that about half way up, but we all soldiered on and were rewarded with spectacular views out over the city and Dublin Bay. We didn't hang around for too long as the wind was quite cooling. A quick explore of the ruined building, another quick bite to eat and some chats and we were off again. This time down the long route, just to change it up a bit.
We were back in Larch Hill by 6:30. Fiona and Mary had gotten the fire going and had prepared the dinner. Thanks ladies. It was a relaxing evening sitting around chatting and telling stories. We headed to the campfire circle at about 9:30 to discover one other group there with some novice scouts who didn't know that many campfire songs. Our scouts joined in and sang a few. It was a bit of fun, but not a lot of atmosphere with only 20 people there.
Back up at the hammocks, we had s'mores and more chats. The scouts crawled into their hammocks some time after 1am. The scouters were all in bed by then so we can't be sure of the exact time.
After breakfast the scouts got changed in to a white t-shirt and got out their water pistols. They filled 2 buckets with water and added in blue and red food dye into one of the buckets. They were each on the presidents secret service detail. The last one to hold their finger up to their ear was an imposter and needed to be shot by the rest of the secret service after they shouted "GET DOWN MR. PRESIDENT". It was totally random and took a while for some of the scouts to realise that others had their fingers to their ears. Lots of fun though.
The game turned into an all out battle across the Upper Dolmen field. They really are a dangerous looking bunch. Good luck to the Venture Scouters taking them on. After the game, there was just enough time to drop the camp and pack everything away. The scouts were shown how to tie up the guy and ridge lines as well as pack away the hammocks and tarps. They will need to be able to show their younger patrol members on Annual Camp in a few weeks time, so it was important that they learned how to do it correctly. We did a sweep of the site and left it pristine, before heading to the car park to meet parents.
It was sooooooooo good to be back camping out in the woods. To have the smell of wood fire in the air. To hear the scouts laughing and getting on with each other. To challenge them to plan and execute a trip away. It was meant as an introduction to Ventures and we believe that they will be amazing venture crew. We look forward to blogging about so many more of their adventures in the coming years as they continue on their Scouting Trail.
Busy day on Saturday
Charlie, the Golden Boy