Monday, July 13, 2009

Cub Camp 2009 at Wye Valley

We set off for camp a little late from the green when we found out that the Catmos minibus, which we had booked and checked to take for the weekend had in fact failed its mot. No Bus. 1/2 an hour to departure time. Akala, resoureful as ever, found a replacement in 10 mins - a brand new one from the local ford garage. Great - a bus with a radio, windows that worked and a likelyhood of getting all the way to the Welsh borders
This was our largest camp ever. A party of 30 (& 3 dogs) set off on Friday afternoon for the river Wye on the Welsh boarders. After an excellent few hours of tent pitching (we really are getting better at this!) and camp kitchen set up we settled down to hot dogs and hot chocolate for supper. After being flat out at work all week, the 4 adults lie in their tents that night, listening to the river and the rain and their stress levels fell as they settled into this new canvas world. There were only 4 hours of sleep though before tent 8 (you know who you are cubs!) woke us all up. We’d cooked a full breakfast and cleared up & tidied our tents by 8am leaving all day for tent inspections, hiking, climbing real rocks, abseiling a 125ft rock face and hedgerow cooking. Some cubs were amazing climbers and others showed great courage “going over the top” abseiling. They made wild nettle and garlic pasta and washed it down with homemade elderflower cordial. They cooked lunch on little meths burners, breakfast & dinner on big calor gas burners and supper on a camp fire so they will never go hungry now due to lack of cooking skills. Each tent prepared skits for entertainment that evening which had us all in stitches and we idled away the evening watching the moon rise and the bats swoop and the marshmallows smoulder and burn, idyllic. This campsite has the most amazing natural rocks, swamps, caves and waterfalls which 1st Whissendine have named Frog Fort. It is a cub’s perfect playground, and oh so mucky, Persil should use it to test their products! On Sunday we went to Clearwell caves and had our picnic lunch in a huge underground theatre, one of the strangest picnic sites you’ll ever find. Then we donned boiler suits and hard hats with lights and went deep underground, wiggling through tunnels, squiggling through worm holes and enjoying the complete blackness and silence of this underground world. We switched off all our helmet lamps and tried to crawl a short distance unaided. It was amazing how all your senses focussed on the rocks and other cubs around you.
The summer camp is the highlight of the cub year and it gives children not only the physical challenge of doing new and exciting activities such as caving but is also often the first time away in such an environment which helps them grow in skill and confidence. As scouting is a volunteer organisation, we rely on the help of parents so we give our thanks to Ali & Steve Gorman, without whom this camp would not be possible. Thank you

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cub Camp to Peak District June 2008

We know cubs are not great at recanting their activities to parents... so....

The sequence of events:

We set off with two minibuses, a car & and a trailer all packed to the gunnels with cubs, kit & food to camp beside the River Dane, at a beautiful scout campsite at Gradbach in the heart of the Peaks, about 5 miles south west of Buxton. We took 24 cubs and 4 leaders - Akela and Baloo (Jane and Nigel Parrott) and, for a second year, Steve and Alison Gorman (to whom we express our eternal gratitude; without them we just couldn't give the cubs the all the challenges and enjoyment of the outdoor life that our youngsters deserve). We managed to set up camp, which took some organisation with so many first time campers, built a harbour in the river, explored the surroundings and had supper by about 11pm. Peace didn't break out however until 12.30am when, after the 3rd warning, the final tent succumbed to sleep.

Saturday started early, at 4.30am in fact (thanks Tom). So after some early morning arts & crafts & a slap up breakfast of eggy bread & syrup we set off for Panniers Pool. It was a 5 mile hike to a natural swimming hole with waterfalls. The water was very cold but it didn't stop the cubs. Some leapt from the rocks straight into the icy waters (awards for courage were given for this) whilst others paddled more gingerly or explored the ravine through which the river ran. Hiking back soon warmed as all up again. Back at camp we learned all about fires. We gathered wood, made shavings & lit our fire without matches (rubbing 2 boy scouts together!). The cubs cooked their own lunch on Triangias & said it tasted better than anything Mum could make. After a couple of hours playing in the river, or the giant prehistoric rhubarb patch, we went rock climbing on the Roaches; a dramatic outcrop of sheer grit stone walls. All the cubs had a go at climbing a real rock face; a very different challenge to the artificial rock bloc. They also had a great time weaseling (climbing under & over huge boulders & wriggling through tiny holes and crevases) working our way up to 500m with magnificent views across the Peak District. We returned to camp for cowboy stew, a campfire, silly songs, marshmallows & hot chocolate. Not surprisingly, the cubs, who were all up by 5.30am were asking for bed at this point & silence quickly descended over our moonlit campsite.

On Sunday morning we had to wake them all up to enjoy another huge breakfast of fried potatoes, eggs & bacon. They made their own packed lunches and then set about striking the camp. By 10.30am we were ready to leave to meet the caving instructors at Stoney Middleton. There, we climbed, crawled & wriggled through tiny tunnels and holes, all 80 feet up a sheer limestone rock face. We also explored the plague village of Eyam and learned how a consingment of material brought the Black Death from London to this little village. Nearly 1/3 of the inhabitants died and plaques showed how total families were wiped out. We hiked to the boundary stone and saw were money was exchanged, at a distance, for food & medicine. We played wide games & were hungry for our picnic lunch. Then it was back to all the home comforts of parents & Sunday dinners & comfy beds!

The cubs thoroughly enjoyed themselves. When asked if they wanted to stay for a week it was a unanimous "yes". There were the usual midge bites, bumps & scrapes to deal with but they all showed resilience. They learned basic life skills like socks stop welly boots rubbing & putting on more clothes keeps you warm. They did chores like washing up, scrubbing pototoes, beating eggs. They learned camp skills like how to make a fire, put up a tent & take it down again. They helped each other out, shared their tuck, their clothes, their friendships. They also expereinced more advanced skills like climbing & caving, and on top of all that had a monsterous amount of fun.

We think the pictures tell a better story

Akela & Baloo

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Whissendine Cubs go to London

The London Cub Camp is now in its 5th year and goes from strength to strength with 22 children coming this time.
We set off early Sat morning in 2 minibuses & high spirits to head for the big smoke but our adventure didn’t really start until we hit the first deep escalator of the London tube system. Transport around London is in itself an exciting activity for a cub. There’s all the speed sports of beating the escalator or lifts using the stairs (175 of them on one occasion!), there’s agility & balance tasks hanging from the monkey bars on the tube & freestanding balancing as the train jerks to a start and a stop. There’s advanced level navigation tasks interpreting the maps & finding the right platforms and a social geography course to be studied within the multitudinous & multicultural passengers we encountered. We emerged briefly for a picnic in Finsbury Park & then descended again until we got to our accommodation at the London School of Economics.
For the adults, student study bedrooms were like stepping back in time to earlier student days, for the cubs it was a glimpse of the future. We left our meagre baggage in our vast rooms & headed back underground & under the Thames to Borough Market. Our local Northfield Farm had kindly offered to feed us with sausage baps from their very busy stand so we joined the hordes of shoppers, scoffed our baps and explored the various cheese, chocolate, meat, fish, flower, fruit & veg stands. Jersey Royal potatoes at £10.20 per kilo was an interesting find but the black truffles at £98 per kilo was the winner!
Next was the London Dungeon, 2 hours of disease, murder, fire & execution. There were real rats, a very huge miscarriage of justice at the trial and they hung us all at the end – hey ho. Now dark & raining we scampered along the south bank armed with our newly acquired axes, hand cuffs & squeaky rats, taking in the river views & heading for a slap up chicken dinner at Nandos. Despite a massive effort we couldn’t quite finish the 10 whole chickens, mountains of chips & coleslaw & buckets of fizzy drinks. Duly stuffed we went to the Tate Modern for a gentle cultural walk among the exhibits. One exhibit, a massive crevice the length of the main gallery was, in fact, quite a walk. Still armed, and now fairly puzzled about “What is art?” we walked or skidded across the millennium bridge to St Pauls. London at night is very beautiful & we looked at all the riverside landmarks as we went. More tubes & back to the LSE for hot chocolate and bed. Well, I say bed, actually there was a disco in one room, a remake of the London Dungeon in another and lots of chattering & much game-boying but some sleep was achieved nonetheless.
On Sunday it rained all day but fortified by a truly magnificent breakfast we set off again for the London Eye. We were fast-tracked to our own capsule to have London laid out below us. The “flight” stopped for 15mins while we were at the top which we counted as a bonus. We then walked to all the places we had seen on TV. Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Horseguards, St James Park, Buckingham Palace. We managed to convince the police to let us onto the steps of 10, Downing Street where we took dozen’s of pictures, in fact a kindly armed policemen took them for us with great patience. We also saw the changing of the guard at Horseguards, what beautiful animals! We finished with a look at the St Patrick’s Day Parade along Pall Mall, a quick MacDonalds (well, actually 25 meals takes a little while to organise!), collected our bags and back to our minibuses on one last tube ride. All the cubs had been up for everything even though some courage & endurance was needed on occasion. They had a wealth of new experiences, had earned Hiking and Night’s Away badges and had acquitted themselves very well. Well done cubs, and thank you to Dom Lyons, our volunteer parent helper.See pictures at