Mar 27 2011

DESC IX, and an historic day for West Lancs

Category: Scoutingash @ 7:51 pm

Ok,its been a while since I’ve blogged. Things have been manic at work, everyones really feeling the fact that after letting people go to balance the books we’re now understaffed & the pressure is on. However, that’s not why I’m writing.

This weekend was our District Explorer Scout Camp, and was the 9th DESC that I’ve run. We had a group of 40 Explorers, about 7 leaders (give or take – quite a few bobbed up for the saturday), and an excellent event.

Saturday was spent out doing activities – a bus went to Ingleton and did a caving/geocaching day (not entirely sure how a GPS works underground though), Phillips had a stack over in the Langdales cragging, Pierre took 3 explorers on an epic bike ride which almost broke them (and him!), and Hugh & I took parties walking. I got in Crinkle Crags & Bow Fell with 2 self-led groups and me supervising. A great day, lots of chance for playing with maps etc & quite a mid of self-leadership for the Explorers. A decent day out, shame about the slightly hazy conditions – couldn’t see too far which was a shame. Kids seemed to buzz off it through.

Sat night we ran through up and coming events & had a impromptu Kareoke-off, which worked quite well – with the Ormskirk Nomads winning. Even though they came last, the Equinox (featuring Harry’s impressive dancing) will stick in my mind for a long time! We finished off with a campfire & some singing, and songs being led by many people. I also bobbed into Bills leaving doo.

Sunday we reset the clocks, ate and then did Flag break (I’ll cover this later). A quick visit to the Chapel to remember the Scouters throughout the world who lost their lives in the Earthquakes and Tsunamis of the past few months, then over to camp centre for some base rotation of assault course, crate stack, boot the ball & jenga. Tents dropped, then we closed our camp.

Some of us stayed back for an extra special closing ceremony though. West Lancs has looked after the Great Tower campsite in the Lakes for a great many years, and innumerable people have poured their souls into looking after and developing the site. Well, we are nearly at the end of an era as on the 1st April West Lancs hand over custody of the site back to Scouting HQ (we’ve leased the site from HQ for many years). This is the start of a new era, but also the end of a great one. In the morning, Joe Hargreaves raised the flag on behalf of West Lancashire for the first time, but at 2.30 we had the last flag down ceremony of the campsite under West Lancs control.

Bill the current warden (who as a result of the handover has had to find employment elsewhere) had a ‘farewell drinks’ doo on the Saturday night that I bobbed over to at about 1.30 am (after the Explorers had headed to bed), and nursing sore heads, he and the Blackpool service team did the county credit at the closing ceremony. After a short, yet powerful & emotional introduction he invited Joe to drop the flag. As he did, two of the Service Team escorted him to the flagpole, and as the Union flag was lowered it was detatched from the flagpole, folded correctly & as they departed the flagpole area, formally presented back to Bill before returning to their places. A simple act, but very significant.
I’m trying not to say anything that isn’t impartial about the handover, but I really do hope (as I think do a great many of the Scouters within West Lancs), that the new Activity Centre management not only do their job to the best of their ability, but that they also do justice to the many years of blood, sweat and tears shed on this most stunning of all campsites. The loss of Bill is significant to many, although as he’s got a job in Lancaster & is looking forward to starting there, it looks as though we’re winning him as a leader into West Lancs (fingers crossed). Here’s hoping that the changes which come enable people to do more act the site, rather than prevent (or make more protracted) people trying do provide these activities to young people.

Fingers crossed.