8th Worcester Scout Troop

Autumn 2016

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Christmas Party - 16th November

For the last night of this term we decided to go for a Christmas party to celebrate everything that has gone on over the term and the year.

We opened the evening with some games to get things going, before moving upstairs for dinner. This was a proper Christmas dinner, with turkey, potatos, and sprouts, all cooked by the leaders either at the hut or at home and then finished at the hut.

Between the main course and the pudding the Scouts tried to play Uno; this is popular, but the issue of that many people around a table that large made it problematic to play. Pudding of chocolate roll or mince pies followed.

We ended the night on games and farewells to some of the leaders who will not be returning next term. Having made a good end to the term, we all look forward to the next one going just as well.


Successive Nights

Following the sleepover each of the leaders took an evening to plan and organise.

Balloon Popping

The first of these evenings revolved around an attempt to build something to hang a balloon filled with water 30cm above the ground and then to build a fire underneath the balloon in order to pop it. With some broom handles and string it was easy to build a tripod to hold the balloon, and kindling blocks were available in order to get the fire going.

The problem came once the first was going: the expectation was that the balloons would melt and burst fairly quickly, however it quickly transpired that the water inside the balloons was conducting so much of the head away from the balloon itself that it was almost impossible for it to melt.

Eventually the Scouts resorted to building up bricks around the fire in order to concentrate the heat properly, but even this merely resulted in the balloons going black and seemingly becoming tougher, as evidenced when one of them had actually developed several leaks which refused to turn into full splits.

In the end the balloons did burst, mostly managing to put out the fires.

Caving

The second evening was opened with a quick check of ideas that the Scouts had for what to do next term. We had some useful ideas back to look into.

This then moved onto an old favourite in caving. The cave in this case is made from tables and groundsheets, arranged to create a tunnel which the Scouts could get through. This used all of the tables and six or seven groundsheets, and produced a cave with a feature that we haven't seen them use before: a bench to crawl up onto and along.

We started with some timed runs through the cave with the lights on, and then tried a timed run with the lights off; this was deemed hazardous by the first couple of Scouts to try it (largely because of coming off the bench without knowing where the end of it was) and so this had to be abandoned.

We then did three attempts at cave rescue: two of the Scouts had to be lost and injured in the cave while the others had to act as a rescue party. This produced varied results due to the narrowness of the cave in places and the varied nature of the rescue efforts. One effort was effectively summed up as "I'm going to crawl out; you keep hold of my leg and I'll pull you."

Eventually we had one and two half successful rescues completed, and the cave was packed away before a final game.

Cluedo

The third evening was Cluedo: four bases were set up and the Scouts had to go around in teams completing tasks at each base in order to be allowed clues; each clue let them know either who the murderer wasn't, what the murder weapon wasn't, or where it didn't happen, and by process of elimination they had to work out the rest.


Pumpkins, Sleepover and Hike - 4th - 5th November

Pumpkins

For our regular meeting on this evening we decided (a week late) to do pumpkin carving. Amidst an easy evening of games and starting a couple of the new Scouts on being invested, we pulled out the pumpkins originally bought for the camp at the start of October and set to work on them. Some of the Scouts had to work in pairs, but everyone had the chance to join in and eventually all of them were sorted and taken outside to test.

Sleepover

Once the regular meeting was over those of us staying for the night settled down to watch a film; this was, chosen a couple of weeks in advance, The Italian Job (the original one). With popcorn and drinks to keep it company, this went down well before everyone had to settle down to get to bed.

Breakfast the next morning was made at the same time as lunch, which was being prepared as a packed lunch to be taken on the hike. The Scouts were tasked with both setting up and clearing up both meals, giving the leaders a chance to get everything else sorted.

The Long Mynd

The Long Mynd is a great place to visit; the route that most people seem to do starts and ends at the car park in the Carding Hill Valley, which offers some good scenery, but lacks the opportunity of doing a one way route that doesn't retrace the same steps.

We parked up in Little Streton to begin with, with the Scouts being dropped off there with a leader while the other leaders ran both cars around to the car park, left one there, and came back in the other. This done, and the Scouts having a reasonable idea of where they were and where they needed to go, we set off.

The first part of the route is quite steep once it gets going, with a average 1:7 gradient (though in practise there are enough flat bits to make the actual climb steeper). It offers some good scenery, and once the main climb is out of the way the views of the local countryside are really impressive.

Heading on the scenery becomes very big and impressive, offering views of a landscape that seems a lot bigger and more impressive than places like the Malvern Hills manage to appear most of the time; probably this is due to the way that there are hills all around rather than nearly flat countryside vanishing into the distance.

We crossed the summit, but didn't hesitate for long as all of us were getting very cold. We thus moved off elsewhere to find some shelter in one of the carparks dotting the road running along the ridgeline, before carrying on to the Jack Mytton Way and starting on the downhill run.

We ended up at the Carding Hill Valley car park, where the leaders once more played swaps with the cars, and the Scouts took an interest in the native plantlife to practise the arts of hiding. We all returned to the hut in plenty of time, having had a good time out, and got to relax and play some games before the Scouts were picked up.


October Camp - 7th - 9th October


This camp was something of a return to old ideas for us as a Troop: the last weekend camp that we organised for ourselves (so not counting Group and District camps) was in 2012. Since then we have done plenty of weekend events, but always based around Leadership or Survival activities rather than being a full camp. For this year we decided to give it another go, heading back to Warren Oak, a site that we haven't been to as a Troop since 2010.

Warren Oak is a basic site (the only fixed activity is an obstacle course) which has a number of things going for it, amongst them that the facilities are good quality and the ground is flat (both of which are remarkably important, and underestimated, when choosing sites). It also has the advantage that it can tend to be underused, meaning that on this occasion it was entirely clear and we were the only people using it.

We set up in our usual spot (it is a regular joke amongst some of the leaders that as Scouts we camped on this exact spot, under this exact tree, during a thunderstorm), next to one of the taps but away from the main buildings. Leaders arrived in the middle of the afternoon to set up the main tents and have dinner before the Scouts turned up (having already had dinner) to set up their tents. This was, again, something of a change; with something like a survival camp we don't have the option to get there and set up in advance.

The main activity for Friday evening, once the tents were up, was based around making torches. This is something that has been down as a possibility for a couple of terms, but for a trial run it needed a low number of Scouts to test it. For this camp the idea went ahead, with the Scouts starting by finding themselves a suitable stick each that was a suitable size. From there they cut up some material and melted wax down to soak the material in before wrapping the material around the stick. Once the wax had set again the Scouts took the torches outside and lit them from a tealight.

The process was a surprising success, and we learnt some very useful things from it for the next time that we do it. Amongst them: we need a lot more tealights to melt down (or some other type of candle or fuel) as well as more material, and some way of securing the material to the stick properly; once the wax caught fire and melted the material had a habit of flopping loose. As something that can potentially be used for wide games or the like it has potential, provided that we can get around these issues. Any suggestions from the Scouts will be taken under consideration.

After drinks and a game of Uno (it became quite a big thing on Summer Camp) everyone got to bed, and the next morning breakfast was made up of bacon, eggs, bread and beans. Around this everyone prepared lunch before we set off on a hike.

We've done this route before, though not from a camp before; under normal circumstances we catch the train from Worcester to Colwall and then catch the train back to Worcester from Great Malvern at the end. This time we drove to Colwall, hiked over the hills, and then caught the train back to Colwall.

The route went via the Worcester beacon, taking in Table Hill and the peak of North Hill, stopping for lunch at the beacon and then heading down into Malvern afterwards for a visit to Malvern Splash.

Dinner on Saturday required some work to get ready. Again, it's something that we've done before, but not for a number of years: roast chicken in stuffing. It's awkward to do on camp because it requires an oven, and while we do have camp ovens to use for cooking on an altar fire, on camps with larger numbers of people the ovens aren't theoretically big enough (in practise we can do up to ten pieces of chicken in a single oven if we really try, but the whole thing becomes very cramped).

Collecting wood began as soon as we got back from the hike, and progressed through stages of chopping it up and getting the fire going while the food was prepared. First to be prepared was the veg (potatoes and carrots to be boiled thoroughly, and leeks to be fried and then go in with the chicken). Once this was done the stuffing was produced, and the chicken, leeks and stuffing were added to the alley trays and then placed in the oven on the fire.

Once it was ready dinner was very well received, with everyone declaring it a success.

Awaiting Further Write-up

We are in need of someone to write up what happened on the rest of Saturday evening and through Sunday.


Allotments - 2nd October

As a bit of being part of the local community for the term we made a visit to the Northwick Road allotments to help with a project that they were undertaking in widening one of the main paths along the North edge of the site. Between brambled encroaching, the verge overgrowing and plots that had sprawled a bit, it was a big task, and one that we would have been hard pressed to complete had all of the Scouts and plotholders turned up; as it was a number of both groups weren't able to make it.

We set to work doing what we could to sort out the path, eventually getting it to a state where chipbark could be laid down over it to give it more definition. After some tidying up and building up the bonfire pile (to be used early in November) we called it a day, satisfied that we had done what we could.


Candle Football - 30th September

Candle football has taken a number of forms over the years; with larger groups we tend to play it using crab football rules, however with a smaller group we decided to modify it slight from there. We had two Patrols, each building a tripod of their own. In both cases the requirement was to build a way of holding a tealight such that it could be struck with a ball (this would be the target of the game).

The designs varied a bit, with one being very lopsided compared to the other, but both were sturdy enough for the game when that happened.


Bridges - 16th September

For our first proper night back for the term the Scouts were set a challenge: given a fixed budget and a warehouse of materials such as newpaper, selotape, straws and so forth, could they produce a bridge of a minimum span and with a minimum height in the middle.

We had three groups for this evening, who each took a slightly different view on how to go about the challenge. The youngest group set about making tubes of newspaper and then tried to make further tubes to use as the legs. While it managed to span a suitable distance, the bridge didn't quite make the height requirement when the legs weren't quite long enough. This one aspect aside they had a very good design.

The team with the two PLs in it went for a similar design, but greater experience gave them a slight edge in building legs that would give more height (once they got the hang of the fact that a "span" cannot have a supporting leg in the middle).

The longest, highest, and quirkiest design took the longest to get going and then seemed to appear all at once when it did happen. Two tripods of newspaper were set up with a tightrope bridge of straws between them. Had there been a requirement for load bearing this team might have been in trouble, however with height, span and budget being the only requirements it was allowed under the rules.