Go Jamboree Service Camp 2009

Two years ago Go Jamboree went to a Build Weekend for the World Scout Jamboree, we arrived Friday, worked all-day Saturday, went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the Evening and went home on Sunday. This weekend we did something similar, unfortunately there isn’t another WSJ to help out with so I picked us out a campsite and cinema for Mary to get us booked on as service crew.

We arrived at Danemead Campsite from 7pm, we had originally planned to be camping but due to the silver tongued efforts of Colin and Dave we managed to get use of a building (which as it turns out was built by Italian POWs). The motives for this weren’t entirely altruistic as there were several jobs for us to do in and around the building! It turned out to be a blessing though as the wind and rain weren’t the kindest this weekend and we were certainly aching by the end of the Saturday.

Once we’d settled in we started cleaning the kitchen, which involved Spoon, Knife and Fork soups! With the cooking equipment and CD player clean we made a start on supper and began to wind down with some Monty Python Fluxx; a game of cards with a changeable ruleset. Its surprising how much I’d forgotten about MP, lucky The Meaning of Life was on the Movie channels on the Monday for a refresher course, coincidence?

Saturday, 18th June 2009

Mary and Dave Painting Wagons and Trailers at Danemead Campsite

We all emerged from the dorms at around 7-8am, Dave was cooking us all a wonderful cooked breakfast to start the day with. We expected the Warden around 9am so quickly sent out the fetchers for supplies, for those left behind we finished off some tidying and Colin and I introduced the Explorers to the game.

Danemead Campsite Car Park before and after Go Jamboree

Started off branding the sites new Trailers with paint and quickly moved on to trimming the brush from the Car Park, not an easy task (photo right). It was a little weird because most Leaders would avoid giving sharp implements to their YP but we gave them scythes and the Combustion Powered Quad-Blade Rotator (or Brushcutter for Short).

Rather than leaving the brush were it fell we were asked to burn it which we grudgingly accepted. 😉 To get it there we had to transport it to the new Fire circle, later we would find that the old one was under 4 feet of shrubbery! Anyway, getting it to the campfire was going to be difficult as all the trolleys/trailers were flat beds, seriously what sort of campsite doesn’t have them with sides? So we ended up going back and for a bazillion times with Wheel Barrows.

Mike and Colin's Shrubbery Burning Campfire

Team Scout started the campfire with 1 match, having lost two to the wind, honestly the wind caught them, I forgot to light from an up wind position! When the fire reached a sufficient heat we piled on the vegetation and put the entire campsite under cover of smoke which made for some spectacular photos one I’ve used for the title image.

After breaking for Lunch and continuing more of the same all afternoon we sat down to finalise the plans for watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Considering the amount of hard work during the day we decided that stenching out the cinema wouldn’t be the kindest thing for the other patrons so we opted out. Instead, with a little jury-rigging we fed the Xbox phonos through the main deflector and into the Pig Music Box. This enabled us to watch, for those following my tweets, Keeping Mum but due to unforeseen technical difficulties and a Moth we changed the in hut première to Kiss Kiss Bang Gang.

Sunday, 19th June 2009

Sunday was like most last days of camp, we very slowly packed up our own kit and began scrubbing the hut down behind us. Leaving the building a lot cleaner than when we arrived was a very satisfying experience, Fred and John, the Wardens were very pleased with our work and gifted us some site badges aswell.

I thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing with my Fellow Go Jammers and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much. The comments and suggestions have been positive that we will attempt to do something next year, probably not to the same site but it would be nice to come back some years later to see how thing have changed.

Swansea “Under the Sea” SSAGO Rally

I’ve been looking forward to this rally ever since I learnt that we would be going to the beach, there was the opportunity to go to during the first Welsh Rally back in 2005 but my club and I overslept missing the coach and being left stranded on camp site with few others around. It was fun though, and we made the best of it was we could. Anyway this rally Continue reading Swansea “Under the Sea” SSAGO Rally

Scout Network Gathering 2008

For the Milton Keynes Scout Network, the Network:MK, this is the one time of the year we can expect to see all our members. Whether it be University, work or disinterest that stops a member coming to the weekly meetings they are almost sure to turn-up for the Long Easter weekend in West Lancashire. It’s hard not to understand why; drinking, food, adventure, fun, friends and tents what more could you not possibly want from a weekend?

As such there is usually a major effort to co-ordinate transport, this year 8 cars full of people, equipment or both made the expedition. My chariot, the Aluminium Falcon, would be transporting the cheerful Faye, the cherubic Lisa and the tempestuous Kat. Originally I would’ve had Matt as well but a reshuffle meant I didn’t so there was more room for everyone else.

With my trusty Sat Nav I set off for Great Tower Campsite, however that is not where it was taking me! Luckily I corrected this problem mid journey however the arrival time I had told the passengers was much earlier so I had to bare the brunt of their dissatisfaction. I probably would’ve been able to get away without a sully to my character if I hadn’t lost faith from passenger doubt on the last leg; I turned the car around and asked for directions! Yes, I know, a bloke asking directions, but if I had just kept going for 100m I would’ve made it and no-one would’ve thought the less of me.

Most of the first day we just spent catching up with each other, you know how it is when you’ve not seen your closest ‘old skool’ friends in months. We kept to our own little site on the first evening, with beer flowing, good music and old friends why would you need much more? Although we weren’t on our usual site with our own private ‘lake’, admittedly we couldn’t fit on it anymore but it really was a nice site, the new tenants certainly seemed to be enjoying it.

Saturday, Day Two

The second days tends to be a lazy one, I was originally going to do Wii games in the morning just because it would be nice to play against some similarly aged Scout that most likely play a lot more than me, I figure even if I get my butt whooped at least I might pick up some tips. In the end I opted against this for a lay in instead, Saturday night always has the big band that you stay up for.

My afternoon activity was Horse riding, I can’t remember ever doing it before so this would be something new. I was expecting a quick introduction course, a trot journey seeing the local countryside then perhaps a little cantering or galloping back at their pasture. With a quick get to know you we went for a trot around the local village and we were done. It was a pleasant experience, I was riding a 15 hand tall Stallion called Father Ted (there was a Dougal in the herd too). He was well behaved and I enjoyed several conversations with him during our time together.

During the wind-down before dinner, we gathered wood and relaxed around the campfire waiting for our hiking team to return. There was a slight unease in the camp as the whether can gotten colder than expected on the hilltops and winds were picking up. They made it home safely and with a few picture of them hiking on snow laden footpaths. To distract ourselves there was some larking about, particularly with my camera, which is why I’ve got some awfully bad artistic shots, but you have to take some bad shots to learn what your doing wrong!

After dinner and a quick change into our fancy dress, between us we had a Traffic Warden, a Jedi Knight, Pirates, Optimus Prime, a 90s Scout, a Pilot and a whole lotta in between. The costume seemed to get us a lot of attention at the Bield, were the band was playing. The band are rather awesome, I particularly look forward to their With or Without You and I’m a Believer each year.

Sunday, Day Three

Every year we make our own little trip offsite, we did consider going further a field than Ambleside Park but considering how late it was when we finally got our arses into gear the journey time just didn’t leave us with long enough there to be worthwhile. We had a lot of fun in the snow, making snowmen, chillin’ our drinks, climbing the mound and in the children’s adventure playground (naughty us!)

I pretty much handed over my camera to Abby that afternoon, she wanted to get some practise in taking shot with an dSLR camera before she starts her course in the autumn. Her shots weren’t half bad, she tries as hard as me to get some artistic ones, I think she does a little better, not sure if that’s luck or me being over critical. I don’t think I’m a natural for that sort of thing, I’m naturally oriented to take photos with purpose not creativity so go for her and her raw talent.

With the full moon this weekend I was hoping to get some lovely campsite landscape photos, particularly from the top of Tower rock, but I didn’t want to go all that way on my own just for some photos and nobody made a point of going up all that way so I didn’t. I did get this cracking shot from our site, I’ve embellished it a little with photoshop but its a nice one nonetheless.

Monday, Day Four

We wanted to make a quick getaway with a meetup at the M6 services, I wasn’t too keen on this as I’m not one for driving fast which meant I was likely to be getting some stick for everyone seeing my car occupants walking in rather than us watch everyone else.

We did alright for time on the journey home, taking a scenic route around the first part of the M6 out of Lancaster, a longer route but with a higher constant pace. I’d rather be driving slowly for longer than crawling for shorter. Overall the return journey was the same as the full voyage time home.

This was another fantastic Gathering weekend, unfortunately I pushed it this year being ever so slightly too old to attend but luckily the organisers didn’t mind so much seeing it was my farewell to Network event. I’ve got the option to go next year as staff but I’ll make my mind up on that one closer to the time.

Liverpool “Crystal Maze” SSAGO Rally

Last year I was a student living on “less than thirty Altairan Dollars a day” and up for an elected ‘job’, this year I’m going to see my replacement elected just as I’ve started a career. It’s kinda ironic I guess, I’ve been a little uneasy about the whole process as I’ve done a lot for the SSAGO Publicity role and I don’t want it ending up in ruin. I thought the only truly happy outcome would be someone to fill in the voids I purposely didn’t address as it wouldn’t so much be a replacement of my work but a continuing in the direction I left it heading in. Luckily a charming lady got elected, the wonderful Heather Coupe, the sister of a previous PO. I look forward to seeing her exploits over the coming year, hopefully the rest of the exec won’t be a roller-coaster ride.

As for the rest of the rally, if the Crystal Maze has been set in fields and woods with a low low budget I imagine it would be very similar to this, the activities were varied and numerous with a strong focus on teamwork. The costumes in the evening were spectacular, so many home brew Crystal Domes and a plethora of Golden and Silver Tickets everywhere! I think what certainly made the Rally a lot more enjoyable is having more in your pocket than lint, it was a real pleasure to buy a round for the friends I’ve made whilst in SSAGO at the Ceilidh bar.

Additionally this was originally going to have a new Rally Booking system, the intention being to add the booking system onto the blog I hacked onto the SSAGO message board but unfortunately due to a communication error my work was in vain. It was a pleasant learning experience nonetheless and I learnt a few things about the admin area functions of WordPress. Shame though, would be nice to have all the login details in the same place with the ability to create an archive of who did what and when over the years.

So here truly endith my life as a student, all loose threads coming to an end, only thing really left is to handover to my successor. I doubt this will be my last Rally though, I’ve known people to hang on for a few but I don’t think I’ll be doing this too many more times. Thanks.

‘Summer of Love’ Event

It’s two thousand and seven, the Scouting Organisation is 100 years old and celebrations are happening throughout the entire year to celebrate this amazing achievement. This year also signifies the 40th anniversary of the Student Scout And Guide Organisation. A national group setup alongside the Scout Association and GirlGuiding UK to encourage membership whilst attending Higher Education.

The independence of the organisation limits its capacity, we can not hold a 2 week long Jamboree nor concerts and camps throughout the year, we can put on a slightly more extravagant Rally than we usually do, powered by the 2007 Steering group we descend upon the Lincoln District Campsite

Some of the changes that made the event much more than a regular rally include the opening of attendance to past members of SSAGO, and members of SAGGA. Accompanied by a Firework display, retro activities and memorial video the event highlighted where we had been and where we are going as an organisation, hopefully one that will stand the test of time.

I quite enjoyed the event, I assisted in some of the preparations on and off site but the real thanks belongs to the 2007 Steering Group that having worked towards he events preparations without a solid support mechanism (such as a club) for so long.

Loughborough “Down-under” SSAGO Rally

This is of course the Rally of the SSAGO AGM, this was to be the big one, the rally where everything that had gone wrong (and the few things that went right) over the previous year I would have to face upto. I wasn’t reluctant to go, infact I was eager, I couldn’t wait to see the outcome because I knew at heart what I hadn’t done, I hadn’t done for a reason.

Either way this was certainly going to be a memorable Rally for me, my last as an Executive member or the beginning of another year on a vastly different governing committee. Standing uncontested I figured my chances were pretty good but knowing how controversial the entire election process was going to be with the new (broken) rules, the political mess that had been brewed and the importance of the 2007 year I expected a lot of action at the AGM.

I didn’t get off to a good start, after a slightly bodged travel arrangements I arrived at a respectful time of 8pm, not my earliest, not my latest (1am!) I missed the Rally last summer through automobile mechanical failure; attendances are never as big as the Spring ones, especially with the locations being the center and extreme of the United Kingdom, respectively so I missed out on seeing quite a few people for 6 months or so since they weren’t at the autumn Rally.

I sat in the mess hall for quite a bit, Muriel’s Wedding (1994) was on. I knew this was the “Down Under” rally but couldn’t they at least put on Mick “Chocodile” Dundee?

With Rallies being only 3 times a year and few members managing to make it to the external national events it can be quite a while between being each other. Talking on MSNM is fine but you learn alot about another person through their mannerisms and inflictions that you could learn through typing on messaging facility. So whilst chatting with Mary and Colin about how their journey had gone (without me!) Faz and Emily walked in, luckily M+C knew how much I was going to have to mosey around the crowds tonight to scope the scene for the AGM on Sunday. Not so much for my own survival but that of another unfortunately re-election that had the possibility of stagnating SSAGO.

In the 2005-6 year Exec snowballs had been set into motion for monumental changes that would raise the status of SSAGO beyond any status it had had in the last 20 years. (Edit: What happened to these snowballs? They melted, as of May 2007 it turns out the people that could’ve kept the momentum going dropped them either through passing on the project to someone else or because they weren’t re-prompted by the new SSAGO Exec, so really there is no-one to blame but ourselves.) I had hoped to be a catalyst in the change but unfortunately my hands were tied because without action I can not react!

There were 3 levels of interest I found in people not running, either people were apathetic, unbeknownst or carefree. Which meant that more time was spent on the more interesting subjects such as jobs, club activities and member suggestions.

As you can see in the photo (right) the reps meeting on the Saturday was a hoot (end sarcasm) but there was a rather humorous Policy Document put forward about Pigeons. And a rather serious event which has produced ripples that are still felt today, in a way there good but it would’ve been better if an unfortunately incident hadn’t have to happen for it to be realised.

In an act of rebellion I choose to do the pyjama party with 28 other girls. I had planned to do this ever since it was going to be an Anne Summers party as boys aren’t supposed to go to them but SSAGO is all inclusive. Anyway, due to criticism it was made into a harmless PJ party which I fully intended to go dressed a la Arthor Dent. Seeing as I don’t usually have any PJs I went and brought some rather fetching blue striped ones for £10 at Matalan.

Having woken up thinking it would be silly to get dressed then get undressed for the PJ party I spent the entire morning and lunch in my PJs and dressing gown. So by this point I had managed to rally (:lol:) many others into getting their PJs on and doing the party thing properly.

I expect there would be a sofa somewhere and the projector setup for us all to watch, what we actually got exceeded these expectations. Chocolate fondue for Bananas, Marshmallows and strawberries, all the cheesy board games you can imagine and a movie!

The evening was possibly one of the best Ceilidhs I’ve been to in a long long time. We were right next to one of the Loughborough Student Union Bars which meant much cheaper liquid refreshment than the usual bulk brought bottles and a great sound system.

I felt especially good about myself for being able to buy a round of drinks for my fellow Exec members, something I haven’t been able to do because of the financial restrictions of studentdom. Being able to properly relax with good chums (photo above) that you just ‘click’ with is a rarity so I just took a load off, talked, played and danced until it was time to go back to the campsite on a good old double decker bus.

When we got back on site I collected my raffle winnings (funnily enough I suggested the raffle idea to the people running it!) which was a choice of 3 crates of lager, not being a lager drinker I decided to offer them to anyone that wanted one, which funnily enough few people were, apparently the majority of SSAGO men are bitter or cider drinks.

At last the AGM, suffice to say it was rather whimsical, the minutes can (or will) be found here, obviously they don’t convey the full atmosphere of the moment but they useful. Highlights include; a pigeon flying here or there, a few groups getting permission to do stuff, a (well deserved)vote of no confidence and the return of the Golden age of SSAGO through a phenomenally cosmically powered Exec consisting of myself, Daz, Ilona, Paul and the suitably re-elected Matt.

And so it begins again.