Winter Camp and THE London Walk

by Imogen

Gilwell winter camp took place from the 10th to 12th January 2020. There was lots of stuff to do during the day and a disco at night. There was so many activities to do during the day including the bag jump, climbing and fun fair rides. The bumper cars offered a short burst of fun as you go crashing into your mates as you speed around the track. Also, there was the 3G swing where your friends pull you up into the air before dropping you into one giant swing. Also, there was a lot of mud everywhere. You couldn’t go anywhere on the site without being greeted by the lovely sight of mud.

On Saturday 18th January we had our annual ‘London Walk’, a long walk from Arnos Grove station all the way to Piccadilly Circus. We set out at 9:00am from the station before walking to Alexandra Palace. From there we walked to Parliament Hill. After the steep trek up you are greeted with a fantastic view of London. From there we walked back down the hill and started to walk again. We walked through several parks and along the London streets. Then we walked to Buckingham Palace and walked down Pall Mall and into Piccadilly Circus where we got the train back to Arnos Grove. In total the walk was over 25km.

Scotland, August 2019 with the Hatters

By Ellen, Ben, Tara and Caira

The journey to Scotland was an interesting one to say the least; during the 10-hour journey we entertained ourselves by playing a variety of music such as: WOAH to Sweet Caroline and singing non-stop the whole way! When we finally arrived at Craig’s campsite, we unpacked and relaxed after a long journey.

The next morning, we woke up after about 2 hours of sleep to go white water rafting in Pinkston water sports centre which ended with some memorable experiences to put it mildly.

Then we jumped into the bus for a couple of hours of the famous DINGLE TOURS! We explored the Banockburn battle site and Stirling bridge all for free courtesy of Dan Ingle himself. We went back to the campsite for some spag bowl and a campfire with some Scottish explorers where we learned some new songs including the classic BUNGALOW. Afterwards we all decided to scare ourselves by watching a film, then Dan and Brian really scared us by waiting for a quiet moment and slamming the windows from outside…

The next morning, we were up early to get on the tram into central Edinburgh for a hike around Arthur’s Seat. We then spent the rest of the day exploring the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Royal Mile. After a fun day we had a quick Harry Potter tour and a trip to Nando’s. The evening was spent taking a history tour about the 16th century streets of Edinburgh. After a late-night tram, accompanied with Dingle Christmas tunes, back to the campsite we decided to pull an all-nighter. It’s safe to say that the journey back was a lot quieter than the way there, much to the leader’s relief.

Southgate District Explorer Camp in the South of France

By Lakshmi, Órla and Jennifer

It was early in the morning at the district HQ as the Hatters ESU along with the Red Barons and Winchmore Hill Unit met for our trip to the wonderful Centre International EEDF de Bécours. You could feel the excitement in the air as we began our journey. We travelled by Eurostar to Paris, where we saw the Notre Dame, the River Seine and had more than one traumatic experience in the French toilets. We then took a very cool double-decker train down to the South of France. Once we arrived, we stayed in a chalet in the hamlet that the campsite surrounds and met up with a few of our wonderful leaders that drove all the way from London with the minibus.

On the first day we set up camp in the sweltering heat and used our brilliant pioneering skills along with Ash’s architectural talents to build a dining shelter. It almost flew away a couple times… We ate some lovely French cheeses and relaxed in the shade. On the second day we visited Sévérac-le-Château and got to know our patrols through a scavenger hunt around the town.

Over the next couple of days, we did a range of activities, rotating between volunteering, a treetop course and aqua hiking in the transparent teal-blue water in the Gorges Du Tarn. Fears were conquered and friends made in the first incredible week of our two-week adventure.

When not climbing trees or jumping into water from high rocks we spent our time in the dining shelter playing various card games and playing our favourite game… Town of Salem led by Joe, the ultimate Moderator. This helped us bond with Explorers from across the district.

We travelled to the Plage Baleine (a beach near to Montpellier) to relax and swim for a day at the beach which was a highlight for all of us expect Ruairi, Dan and Brian who spent a day walking and shopping in the heat. Most of us managed to avoid sunburn despite the scorching heat. The next day we had a cooking competition, which was quite the challenge for Zac’s patrol who had to battle 5 different dietary requirements but was nevertheless a bonding experience. Chris’s patrol won the competition after some difficult decision making from the panel of judges. They were given a run for their money by Aidan’s patrol who were quite the entertainers.

The next day we travelled by coach to Montpellier, explored the city and spent all our money. We said goodbye to Kell (we were Kella sad) and retuned to base where Zac’s patrol cooked dinner.

We rotated through some more activities over the next week, including Canoeing, Volunteering and Via Ferrata (scaling cliffs with harnesses and metal footholds) where we took in the epic views.

Campfires in the evening were a wonderful way to reflect on our busy days and to chat with our fellow campers. We reflected on the state of our world, discussed philosophy and pondered on how to move the planet over cakes in oranges and marshmallows.

Our wonderful two weeks in the South of France came to an end and we took a train up to Paris where we stayed the night in the Aloha Hostel. The Eiffel tower at midnight was a moment to remember (we got all our #instaworthy photos) despite the rats and the smell.

The next day we explored Paris where a few of our Explorers rode back to our meeting place on electric scooters after their long search for frog’s legs. Despite their untimely arrival we were all amused. Our time in Paris was ended with a lovely sing along to Valerie, which was substituted with “Malachy”, accompanied on the piano by Chris. The ride back on the Eurostar was sad but we were happy to have had such an incredible week shared with such amazing people.