22/07/2013

7 days and counting....have you packed yet ?

29/07/2013

All here safe and sound, not involved in swiss train incident, hectic few hours setting up camp in the rain but all now setup, everyone fed, and an early night ! Everyone is tired but well, more news tomorrow !

30/07/2013

Thankfully the sun arrived this morning, giving us a chance to set up camp and dry everything out after the rather damp conditions yesterday !

The scouts and explorers both slept in to a reasonable time this morning, giving them all a well needed nights rest after the journey day, once up they all enjoyed a traditional swiss 'standing up' breakfast' (well not entirely traditional until we started it, but we didn't get the tables and benches until 1100 !).

The scouts spent an hour or so this morning getting all the tents properly set out, the weather here can change rapidly so it is important they are rigged securely just in case (when) the rain returns.

After setup we toured the site to show the scouts the key points, showers, toilets, shop etc, you'll see a photo on the twitter feed of us outside the main reception, enjoying the sun !

After lunch we walked into the village, having set some boundaries they will be allowed to go into the village in small groups on occasion to enable them to do some shopping, interestingly it's day 1 yet we already have penkife catalogues all over the tables here in the marquee !

The explorers followed a similar pattern for the day, although the temptation of the outdoor swimming pool in the village was just too much, so by early afternoon they all went for a swim, apparently the swiss definition of 'heated', is somewhat optimistic !!

The scouts and explorers have settled in well today, there is a nice relaxed feel around the campsite, already some badges and scarfs have been swapped, and the explorers have had an entire meal with some Italians, apparently the steak was excellent !!

Everyone is fit and well (and well fed), and dare I say it I don't think they are thinking of home much.

Tomorrow for the scouts is the first activity day, so the three groups will be hiking, swimming or high roping, the explorers are hiking down the valley to Blausee, where they can choose to hike back or get the bus, any bets as to which they pick....

***UPDATE*** - Tomek and Aidan have been to dinner with the Italians as well, we're hoping to all get invited over, we'll save a fortune on food !!

31/07/2013

It's hot, really, really hot (seems the british thing to do to complain it's now too hot after complaining it was too wet...).

Everyone was out on activities today, the scouts were either swimming, hiking to Blausee or on the high ropes, each group returned to the site full of stories of their day.

For the hikers it was dipping their fingers into the cold waters of the 'Blue Lake' as the fish leapt up to bite them....for the high ropers it was tales of pushing boundaries and taking leaps of faith, for the swimmers it was swimming, diving, and fluming with rubber rings (landing on each other was "awesome" according to Jasmine B, mind you she said the same about the sauna !)

For the explorers it was also a trip to Blausee, where they also pushed their boundaries to the limits....with a trip on the slowest moving rowboat IN THE WORLD, as they relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine reflecting from the lake (then they said they were hungry so headed back to the site - such was their poetic yet simple view of the setting !).

A great day for everyone, high spirits all round and all are fit and well, will be interesting to see if we get a similar effect tomorrow morning when I wake them all up at 5 am.....for the sunrise ceremony, if the weather is good it should be a stunning morning.

TEN THINGS WE LEARNT TODAY.

1. When scouts travel to Switzerland with a packed lunch, we really ought to make sure they empty out the leftovers that day...

2. Carla S likes to dress for all occasions at the same time, when hiking she is also dressed for the beach or clubbing.

3. Give 26 scouts a penknife catalogue and NOT ONE of them can make a decision as to which to buy.

4. The swiss build their mountains VERY HIGH, everyone has neckache from looking up.

5. Katie W has no fear (don't panic mum - it's all good)

6. Good job we bought the sewing kit, and yes you CAN sew a bra back together.

7. Andrew likes milk on a hot day.

8. Italians do gooooood food.

9. Quiet time is 1030 pm on site, they have quiet time operatives, they have NO sense of humour.

10. 'Suncream' is the word of the day.

02/08/2013

0500 in the morning is clearly not something the scouts and explorers see too often....

We had quite a bit of weight on board when we drove to Switzerland, but I still managed to squeeze in a 100W sound system, it seemed to me that 5 in the morning was the most reasonable time to use it, it was a short playlist, starting with Faithless - Insomnia, and followed by Elbow - A Day Like This.

Strangely 100W of music on full tilt was not received entirely positively by the young people as they were somewhat abruptly awoken !! (not sure our neighbours were too impressed either as the music echoed down the valley !)

Once up we handed out cereal bars and by 0530 the scouts were off on their journey, firstly down into the village and then turning right to head up the hill to Oeschinisee.

It is NOT an easy climb, especially having just got up out of bed, and the scouts and explorers were already tired from activities, yet step by step all those who started out made it to the top, some faster than others granted, but even those who took a steadier pace completed the climb, every now and then I get to be a very proud Scout Leader, and this was certainly one of those occasions.

I can assure each parent that had they been there to witness it I think one or two might even have shed a tear, your children all showed courage and determination, and all earnt their 'mountain top moment'.

Once at the top the 'Pinkies' were handing out breakfast to everyone and we took our positions on the side of the lake awaiting the sunrise.

Unusually for the swiss, they got the timings wrong, and we had to wait an extra half an hour for the sunrise, but they had music pumping out across the lake, and TJ led the scouts in some 'interesting' dance moves !

It was damp and chilly as we waited, but then the moment came, the sun cresting the mountain top, and the change in atmosphere was dramatic, as was the sudden change of clothes and the need for rapid application of suncream !

We all stood on the lakeside and renewed our scout promise with over a thousand scouts from all around the world, as I have told the scouts, I don't expect them to necessarily be awed by the occasion, but I imagine in years to come there will be moments when they will look back and recall what was a unique moment in their lives.

Following the ceremony we then had one of our own, as we did a 'in the field' investiture of Phoebe, Katie, Eden, Carla S and Andy, there will be very few UK scouts who have been invested on a swiss mountain, it was an honour for me to welcome them into scouting in such a special location.

We then descended the mountain once again, and spent the rest of the day enjoying the activities put on in the village.

At 3.30 pm we then formed up in a parade with all of the other scouts and we paraded back to the campsite through the village, it was a very noisy parade, and there were many villagers and tourists lining the route, the scouts really got into the spirit of it as we sang and shouted our way back to the site.

We finished the day with a ceremony in front of the main chalet, all countries were represented, as the roll was called it reminded me of the olympics opening ceremony !

It was a very long, hot and tiring day, but a very rewarding one, a unique experience for everyone.

02/08/2013

Another very hot day !!

The scouts were off on activities once again, either swimming, high ropes or the blausee hike.

My group were on the high ropes, what really struck me was not just the courage on display, and boundaries being pushed, but how much they were all helping each other out as they negotiated the course, I had the youngest group yet they all showed excellent teamwork way beyond their years.

The explorers went off to high ropes and Via Ferrata at Adelboden, I shall leave them to describe the experience when they get home, I've seen the photos and I don't think I can do it justice, except to say it looked very high and very challenging !

Everyone was tired this evening, we've reached that mid-point that many leaders know so well, where tempers fray a little and emotional and physical tiredness takes it toll (always a good sign to me, shows we're nudging limits just a little), so early to bed this evening, and the luxury of a lay in tomorrow.

Our programme now eases off a little in terms of physical exertion, we will go to Bern tomorrow for some sight seeing and shopping, and then off to Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe !) on Sunday.

Everyone remains fit and well, no homesickness, lots of really positive experiences for all of the young people, plenty of mixing with other nationalities (a party with the scottish today, including highland dancing !).

TEN MORE THINGS WE HAVE LEARNT

1. Aidan Kerr is full of surprises

2. Emma can REALLY belt out a chant (and goes bonkers for milk)

3. David is a true gentleman, he should be knighted

4. Phoebe can spend 3 hours on high ropes, then trip over on the ground straight afterwards

5. Children under the age of 16 CAN wash up

6. The Alps are simply stunning

7. Tomek has VERY high expectations (and probably should have a butler.....a very patient one)

8. Adam is a thoughtful young man

9. There is only one thing harder than motivating scouts to walk up a mountain. Yes, it's motivating them to walk back down again !!!!!!!!

10. Explorers need nagging more than scouts to put suncream on, teenagers !!!!!

03/08/2013

Today the explorers took a trip through the Lotschberg tunnel to the Thermalbad Spa at Brigerbad, a large complex of outdoor heated pools, apparently it was great fun, Reece got up close and personal with some spanish friends, and Tom managed to get smacked in the face (accidentally) and got a nose bleed !

Nice to know Helios was making an impact !

The troop took the train to Bern, we got there in time for lunch in a park, then split up into smaller groups for some shopping, it was very hot in the city, but quite pleasant strolling past the windows of the posh boutiques, gazing at price labels that defied description...

After a couple of hours we returned back to the site to start making preparations for our big trip to Jungfraujoch tomorrow.

Everyone remains fit and well, we are moving smoothly past the midweek 'bump' and are looking forward to heading to the top of europe, we'll be sure to look down and wave !

TEN THINGS WE LEARNT TODAY

1. If you let 26 scouts go to the loo in Bern you get a free parking space.

2. Tomek has a new towel (thankfully).

3. The scouts have found somewhere to buy chips.

4. In Switzerland you can start a journey in the sun, drive through hail, and then finish your trip in the rain.

5. The girls are most insistent on there being toilet roll available in the toilets. The boys seem less bothered.

6. Glowsticks = Instant Happiness

7. Two Glowsticks = Instant Happiness (and a new friend from another country)

8. Oscar has a very odd reaction to the local drinks syrup, we are considering sedating him if he has any more of the stuff.

9. We appear to have a towel thief on site, clearly someone with no sense of  smell.

10. Eden and Phoebe VOLUNTEER to help wash up, with NO prompting, I think either or both of them have 4 metres of Toblerone in their tents and are trying to throw us off the scent.

04/08/2013

What a day, an early start and five trains to get us from the campsite to the Top of Europe, and what a journey it was...

We awoke to a thunderstorm in the morning, full blown thunder, lightning and rain, so we did wonder what the day would bring, but within an hour or so it cleared away and sunshine was the theme for the rest of the day.

It was the most stunning experience you can imagine, the views were incredible; the trains, the viewing platforms, the ice palace, various displays, all of it was part of what was a truly unique experience for all of us, one I think we will be talking about for some time.

We have all come away with video and photos to be able to share it with you all, words can't really do it justice, the scale of the Alps at that location is just something incredible to behold, even our most cynical scouts were impressed !

Both Helios and the troop are off river rafting tomorrow, so not too worried about rain !

Everyone is fit and well, more news tomorrow...

05/08/2013

It was all about water today, but thankfully the stuff already in the rivers rather than more falling from the sky...

Both the scouts and explorers headed off to their respective river trips, the scouts to the river Aare and the explorers to the more advanced river Lutschine.

We went with the scouts to the river Aare, the conditions were fantastic, clear blue skies and blazing hot sunshine, for the scouts it was a more sedate river, but that allowed for much jumping out of the boats, the guide in one boat jumped into the water first after just a few metres down the river !

The scouts were split into two boats, each able to take over a dozen, and each with a guide, they piled into the water at Thun, stopped for lunch on the bank at Munsingen, and finished 5 hours later in Bern.

The scouts have all been raving about it since they got out of the water, I think they would have floated on for another 50 miles given the chance !

The explorers were on a different type of river altogether, faster flowing, and much more white water, they were also in two boats, each with a guide, all accompanied by a safety kayaker.

The explorers have just got back to site and are all blurting out their experiences, mind you I think the leaders are making more noise than the kids !

We have some excellent photos and videos to share !!

ANOTHER TEN THINGS WE HAVE LEARNT...

1. Outdoor Interlaken AG river guides are "hot" apparently.

2. Daryl must like the water, he was the first in, not entirely deliberately.

3. You get really light-headed when at the Top of Europe - and no alcohol involved !

4. The Jungfraujoch is twinned with a mountain in China. Be rude not to visit....

5. A bar in Interlaken has a special offer, 2 drinks for the price of 2....(well that's what the sign said !!)

6. When the batteries in the MP3 players fail, the playing cards come out !!!

7. Some of the leaders go to the 'shower' a lot, then come back looking far more relaxed, but strangely no cleaner, curiously the very nice swiss bar next the campsite always seems busy too...

8. The campsite kitchen gives us yoghurt in massive tupperwares. You could float model boats in it.

9. Aaron seems to be popular, a portugese girl kissed him, and no badges were swapped first !

10. There is no nougat in a Toblerone McFlurry.

06/08/2013

Last night was very interesting...it had got dark and a thunderstorm rolled in, the lightning was spectacular, then it started to rain lightly, and of course we expected heavy rain to follow, what we did not expect was the hail that then hit us with full force.

The noise was deafening as the huge chunks of hail hammered down on the marquee, with the scouts and leaders diving for cover in the tents, the ground was rapidly covered in a carpet of hail, and it was impossible to be out in it such was the force of the downfall.

So we put the kettle on.

The tents stood up well to the onslaught, (thanks Vango), and just as soon as the hail arrived it departed once more.

Today was the last activity day for the scouts, and I am pleased to say the weather once again was in our favour, all three groups had a great day hiking, high roping and swimming.

This evening the scouts are all off around the site, there are groups of young people all over the place, swapping badges, chatting and socialising (kind of like facebook but in the real world), it's great to see our young people talking to their peers from Germany, Iceland, Hong Kong and other countries, when you see them together you realise they have more in common than they have differences.

The explorers went off to Aare Gorge and the Reichenbach Falls today (where Sherlock Holmes had his final battle with Moriarty), they used their travel pass for the last time to travel by train via Spiez and Interlaken to complete the journey, returning back to the site in the evening.

General consensus was that the gorge and falls were very impressive !

Everyone is fit and well (well aside from the usual bumps and scrapes - but nothing major !!), and spirits are still high, there is some recognition that we are nearing the end of our adventure, but we are not done yet, tomorrow is tobogganing and a grand banquet for everyone, and the explorers and some of the older scouts will be off to the International Disco !

EVEN MORE THINGS WE HAVE LEARNT...

1. Hail in Switzerland comes down in marble sized chunks

2. Julian has excellent rowing skills, even without a boat..

3. Swiss hail is great for putting drinks on ice

4. Take Adam to the Top of Europe and he will be unimpressed, give him a bowl full of bubbles and he'll giggle, a lot.

5. Nathanael has read my blog updates, and thinks they are "quite good".

6. Hannah S likes to wear her glowsticks as headbands, she looks like a psychadelic hippy.

7. Eden has been high-fiving everyone he can find on site, he's up to 308 of them !!

8. Eden has a sore right hand.

9. Lucas is not sure about cooking Bratwurst sausages, but he sure likes eating them.

10. Aaron was asked by some foreign scouts where he was from, and he very nearly said "home " !!!!

08/08/2013

Today we went to try a new sport in Switzerland called 'No Tobogganing', first we had a bit of a lay in to give everyone time to recover from the previous day, and it was a chance to do a little tidying up around the site, after lunch we then headed off into town.

Once in the village we took the cable car up to Oeschinensee to do our 'No Tobogganing', as expected it was cloudy and raining once we got to the top of the cable car run, both are essential ingredients for this particular sport.

We spent just over an hour on top of the mountain doing 'No Tobogganing', which due to the total absence of need to use any equipment, or take any risk whatsoever, resulted in no injuries at all from the participants.

Overall it was a very pleasant day, and I am sure all the scouts and explorers will have fond memories of 'No Tobogganing'.

In the evening the time came for the Helios Banquet, they planned a fondue menu, which involved chocolate and cheese and many items to dip, oddly haribo featured, as did spam, even more oddly spam and chocolate seemed a favourite option for most of the scouts !!

Some tunes were put on and then the party really started, we saw some dance moves that ranged from bold to tragic, as scouts, explorers (and yes leaders...) took to the dancefloor (muddy marquee), to show off their moves.

Later that evening the explorers and the oldest scouts took off to the town for the scout international disco, they partied until midnight then made their way back to the site in the rain (something of a theme for the next 24 hrs....).

The combination of 'No Tobogganing' and the party atmosphere of the evening was a great way to end the camp.

08/08/2013

By now the scouts have landed in the UK, and the explorers will be close behind, just a few closing thoughts on an incredible adventure.

On today, packing up went well, the scouts are getting pretty good at this now, and things went very smoothly for the first phase, with the scouts leaving in good time.

The second phase was quite challenging for Helios and the rest of us, as the torrential rain returned with a typically swiss sense of irony (as it belted it down the day we arrived too).

We slogged through it for 3 hours, getting the last of the tents down and packing the trailer, my thanks to all of the explorers for working so hard in such demanding conditions.

Overall it has been a fantastic camp, so many great activities, and great days out, amongst the most stunning scenery; but it's the little things that always strike me the most, seeing scouts and explorers pushing their boundaries, watching them as they handle sometimes challenging social situations (and not always getting it right at first !).

There have been the usual ups and downs along the way, the occasional frayed temper and moments of emotion, but all are such a valuable part of a trip like this, they are an essential part of the mix, it gives real depth to their experience, and I know they will learn from it.

I have seen scouts and explorers helping and supporting each other, a shoulder to lean on, carrying a rucksack for someone struggling on a hike, offering encouragement on high ropes, all without any prompt from leaders, I have also witnessed them cooking, washing up, and even occasionally tidying up, you should ALL be very proud parents !!

Photos will go up online in our Flickr account soon, but some will be held back for the DVD, we do have some good video footage too...

We had a brief pause at the end of camp to reflect, I explained to them that we have all shared a unique experience which I hope they will share with you (if you can keep them awake for an hour or so !), and I hope they will look back and remember the highlights, and that moment when we stood at the Top of Europe.

TEN FINAL THINGS I HAVE LEARNT...

1. Explorers have a REALLY odd idea of what makes a banquet - but it works, tastes good, and is fun !

2. Reece can dance like nothing I have even seen before.

3. Julian can dance like nothing ANYONE has ever seen before.

4. There are likely to be no more penknives in Switzerland, I think we have them all.

5. Oscar is like the guy in the Skittles advert, he can just touch something and it falls apart.

6. Our young people are really quite incredible at times (and generally messy the rest of the time).

7. Scouting works.

8. We have a leader team second to none, I cannot praise them highly enough, and I am very grateful for their support in delivering such a wonderful adventure for our young people.

9. This hotel room is really, really nice, it has walls, carpet, and a bed with fluffy pillows. I may never leave.

10. I actually miss the scouts and explorers a teeny weeny bit already, but I am glad they are back home with parents, sharing their experiences, and laundry !!!!!

Thanks for the support everyone.

KIT COLLECTION

We will be at Langney Shopping Centre at 1300 on Sunday for kit collection, please be warned the kit in the trailer is very wet and in some cases may be a little muddy, it also may take a little while to empty out !

We do have a lot of wet tents, if anyone would be prepared to take one home to open up and dry out it would be very useful, they are mostly clean, just very wet, with high quality swiss rainwater.

 

 

 

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