International Tasters


I arrived at Scottish Headquarters in good time for meetings to discuss a variety of topics including youth involvement (where Scotland is very much leading the way) and the National Activity Centre strategy amongst others. From there we head north towards Blair Atholl where dinner with Eleanor, Chief Commissioner of Scotland, is a further opportunity to discuss what's happening in Scottish Scouting as well as wider UK matters of mutual interest.

Blair Atholl

First started in 1946 and run every other year ever since, Blair Atholl offers a unique opportunity for patrol camping where patrols of six Scottish Scouts/Explorer Scouts are paired with a visiting patrol of six Scouts from another country with whom they camp and work together for the duration of the camp. With Scouts from 17 countries visiting, this is a unique international experience and a chance to test the camping and pioneering skills of Scouts as they build their camps and cook on open fires etc.

The 45 activities included the usual favourites and lots more such as gorge walking, an overnight cycle expedition, and the 'Blair Experience' which looked like an excuse to get very very muddy to me, and was of course amongst the most popular. Theatre skills was a new one which proved popular as was a refugee 'game' developed by the UN which was a very thought provoking way of helping young people understand what it might feel like to be displaced.

A particular mention for Morrison sub-camp (which seemed to be staffed only by people called Stephen) who had built a fully working washing machine, sauna and smoothie maker (I can vouch for the effectiveness of the latter). The coffee and homemade biscuits were good too.

A chance to say a few words to the service team of 400 volunteers as we join them for lunch before its time to say goodbye and head back south again to Derbyshire.

Peak 2010

Held every five years, Peak International Scout and Guide camp is organised jointly by the Guides and Scout Counties of Derbyshire, who take it in turns to lead. This year it was the turn of the Scouts, although it is very much a joint effort. With more than 6,000 Scouts and Guides from 16 Countries enjoying the fantastic setting of Chatsworth House this was a chance to showcase both Movements at their best.

We started off our visit in Jam Roll, the Rolls Royce bought by members of the Movement in 1929 as a gift to B-P – 81 years to the day that it was first registered. This took us to visit Junior Peak, the base for Cubs and Brownies who were able to join in as day visitors and enjoyed their own programme of activities including a popular recycling base where they were putting the finishing touches to a greenhouse made from clear plastic bottles.

We were also honoured that the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, who kindly grant permission for the use of the Estate, were able to visit and it was good to be able to show them a little of the site, introduce a number of participants and tell them about Scouting and Guiding today. They were particularly impressed with Peak which is one of their best events as it is always so well organised, participants are well behaved and the site is impeccable when we leave it.

Wandering around the sub-camps, we popped in on the Wellbourne Scouts and Guides who camp together, with shared catering and central facilities and, judging from our conversation with their young people over lunch, they were having a great time.

Evaluating Scouting

I headed south to Gilwell on Thursday evening for a further series of meetings and dinner with Stuart, Chairman of our General Purposes sub-committee (he has responsibility for things such as safeguarding, awards board, IT, communications and so on).

Main meeting on Friday was the steering group for a research project we have commissioned from an independent company to help us demonstrate the value of Scouting to various stakeholders such as employers, young people and the wider communities.

This will involve interviews with people who are, or have been, members, as well as those that are not. I’ll write further about this in due course and to introduce it in more detail as some of you may be approached. A meeting of Key 3 looking at communicating our Vision 2018, succession planning and the AGM.

Back to Guernsey to see the family, before heading to Norfolk for the next International Camp, NorJam 2010.

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