Explorer Scouts

OVER 190 scouts and leaders from the Woking area came together to ensure a fun-filled weekend for children with special needs at Woodlarks Campsite in Farnham.

The 34th Handycamp was a nursery-themed event with pupils from special needs schools including, Freemantles and The Park schools in Woking, Abbey school in Farnham, Gosden House in Bramley and Portesbery school in Camberley.

A camp goer tries his hand at archery

The 35 children with special needs aged 10 to 16 years old camped with 50 Explorer Scouts aged 14 to 17 years old supported by over 80 leaders, including teachers from the various schools.

All the youngsters took part in activities such as climbing and abseiling on a huge three-face wall specially built by PTG Scaffolding, with HSS Southern in Old Woking supplying some of the safety fencing and lighting.

They also tried their hand at backwoods cooking over open fires, air rifle shooting, kayaking and rafting on the River Wey and constructing model aeroplanes from wood which they then flew through Olympic-style rings on a specially made launching pad.

Intrepid Handycampers take to the water in kayaks

The camp was funded by the Chobham-based Children with Special Needs Foundation, St Faith’s, and the Surrey Army Cadet Force, also received donations from Roberts Butchers in St Johns, Tenakers Farm Shop in Chobham, in addition to funding from Woking Borough Council.

During the weekend, Woking’s Mayor Cllr Beryl Hunwicks visited the camp and experienced the thrill and enjoyment being had by everyone said Brian Pinto, District Explorer Scout Commissioner, Woking.

“The explorer scouts are buddied with the pupils from the local schools, on a one to one or two to one basis, and look after their buddies for the whole weekend, camping and enjoying the activities in patrols.”

He added: “The rain on Saturday did not dampen any spirits, in fact it was the opposite, with lots of fun and laughter from all involved.”

For the full story get the 10 October edition of the News & Mail

FIVE members of Woking’s Explorer units have achieved the highest award for a youth member of the Scout Association.

The five, aged 17 and 18, recently became Queen’s Scouts, the culmination of two years of completing a series of tasks to qualify for the accolade.

The five new Woking area Queen’s Scouts cut a celebratory cake with Shahid Azeem and Cllr Beryl Hunwicks

They are Bethany Williamson of the Weyahead Unit in Pyrford, Hannah Crook and James Barber from the Martian Unit in Horsell, Tom Newling Ward of the Maverick Unit in Kingfield and Thomas Faulkner from the Challenger Unit in Knaphill.

An audience of 120 friends, family and VIP guests attended a special ceremony St John’s Church in St John’s to see the new Queen’s Scouts presented with their awards and give detailed presentations of the 10 tasks they had to complete.

Among the audience were the High Sheriff of Surrey in Nomination, Shahid Azeem, and the Mayor of Woking Cllr Beryl Hunwicks.

This year, approximately 300 Scouts in the UK will achieve the Queen’s Scout Award, and all will be invited to the annual St George’s Parade at Windsor Castle.

Activities they undertook included a 100 kilometre, four-day expedition on Dartmoor. This was done after 12 months of training in navigation, lightweight camping and cooking, plus numerous safety courses, to ensure they could be self-sufficient in uninhabited terrain.

Other major requirements for the award included community service, learning new skills, physical activities and learning about religions such as Buddhism, and Christian festivals.

For the accolade’s International section, Tom climbed Kilimanjaro and helped build a school in the area and Hannah went to Zambia to help teach rugby to local children. Thomas joined scouts from around the world at the World Scout Jamboree in Japan.

The new Queen’s Scouts have also gained their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards, which were presented to them by Mr Azeem.

The Explorer Scout Commissioner for Woking, Brian Pinto, commented: “To gain these awards the young people have to show extremely high standards, motivation, self-discipline, leadership and commitment in the range of activities and interests as well as community service while building their self-confidence and having fun.”

For the full story get the 18 July edition of the News & Mail

AFTER  training for six months to achieve the Expedition section of the DofE Award, covering navigation, cooking skills and emergency aid, 46 Explorer scouts aged 14 to 18 from the five units in Woking,  together with 22 leaders, made their way to Brecon for a weekend of fun and challenging hikes over the May bank holiday.

Top of the World: A triumphant team of scouts pause to celebrate on a Brecon peak

Having arrived at their campsite in Llangorse, near Brecon, at around 11pm on the Friday, the Scouts pitched camp and bedded down for the night, ready for an early start.  Despite low temperatures and snow on the top of the mountains, Scouts in teams of four or five completed high-level walks, including Pen y Fan and Waun Fach.

Three teams of Explorer Scouts completed their three-day Expedition, covering a distance of about 50 kilometres, walking from Talgarth, around Waun Fach to Crickhowell and Talybont, then back up to Llangors.

During the weekend, two other teams of younger Explorers completed a two-day, 25-kilometre Expedition, walking from Crickhowell, following part of the Beacons Way to Cwmdu and back to Llangorse Lake.

Another team take a quick break to catch their breath

En route the Scouts had to complete their chosen projects, on subjects such as the effect of tourism on the paths, historic buildings and the effects rivers and lakes have on the community. One team carried out their project on the local thoughts of Brexit.

The Expedition was the final part of their Chief Scout’s Award and the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme’s Bronze and Silver Expedition section.

Another group of five Explorers completed a gruelling three-day Expedition as part of their official practice for the Queen’s Scout and DofE Gold Awards, covering around 25km a day in the wildest parts of the Black Mountains. They will now go on to complete a four-day Expedition on Dartmoor in August.

The Expedition section enables the Scouts to gain confidence. “It was a super and fun weekend for all the Scouts,” said Brian Pinto, Explorer Scout Commissioner for Woking. “The terrain was much more challenging than the Surrey Hills and their training in the last two terms certainly paid off, putting their navigation skills to the test.”

Sixty Explorer Scouts took part recently in Woking District’s annual two-day Expedition Challenge.

The route led competitive teams of four or five scouts, aged 14 to 18, on a 45-kilometre hike. They carried all their equipment, including food and cooking gear for the weekend, and wore costumes of their team’s choice, such as the Spice Girls, French onion sellers and bananas.

Whimsically dressed Explorer Scouts enjoy a well earned meal after the first day of the expedition

The teams had to catch a train early on Saturday, from Woking to their start point at Liphook station. They then had to navigate onto the South Downs and to West Harting Down, before ending the day at their campsite in Rogate. There they cooked and enjoyed meals such as spicy chorizo sausages and pasta, and meatballs and rice.

After a cold but frost-free night’s sleep and surviving the clocks going forward, the teams spent a damp and overcast second day hiking back to Liphook and the return train to Woking.

During the expedition, the Scouts had to complete a project based on their observations of the countryside and then give a humorous account of their findings.

The winning team represented the Explorer scouts at the Phoenix Unit in Byfleet.

For the special picture feature get the 11 April edition of the News & Mail

WITCHETTY grubs and grasshoppers were served up to Explorer Scouts when they faced a bushtucker challenge at a weekend camp.

TESTS: The contents of their sandwiches might not be what these Explorer Scouts are used to

It was a case of “I’m an Explorer Scout…Get Me Out of Here!” on a cold and muddy Birchmere campsite at Wisley Common.

Explorer Scouts from across Woking came together to brave a series of trials in the style of the well-known TV series.

The weekend was organised by a committee of Explorer Scouts to enable members of the five units around the borough to meet and get to know each other.

For the full story get the 14 February edition of the News & Mail