Following on from the success of last years camp in Cornwall, our Scouts were eager to get away on Summer Camp again so, when we received an invitation from 1st Melbourne Scouts in Derbyshire to join then at Tolmers Campsite in Hertfordshire we jumped at the chance. Some of our leaders attended Tolmers in 2014 as guests of 1st Melbourne and had decided that it was definitely something our Scouts would enjoy.
Tolmers campsite is run by Hertfordshire County Scouts and has been since it was created in 1946. The Come To Tolmers (CTT) event has been running since the early '70s and is a camp like no other.
The CTT team provide an amazing range of activities for the Scouts (and Guides, it's a joint camp) to take part in. This year, around 800 Scouts, Guides, Explorers and Rangers were on site.
Each morning, after making their own breakfast, the Scouts make their way to Flag Break and activities sign on. There, they get to choose up to 4 activities for the day from the choice of over 40, including Sailing, Canoeing, Raft building, Backwoods Cooking, Climbing, Journalism, Balloon Modelling, Quad Biking, Shooting and many more. They spend the day doing their chosen activities then return to camp to make dinner before heading back out for the evening activities - these even include an onsite cinema!
Late evenings are spent relaxing around the camp fire and swapping stories from the days adventures.
The fact that the Service Crew run most of the activities means that, unlike many other camps, Leaders can get take part in some activities or take advantage of the on site coffee shop for a well earned cream tea.
Right from the start, our Scouts showed true Scouting spirit, mixing into Patrols with the Scouts from Derbyshire seamlessly. By then end of day one, a passer by would have been unable to tell that there were two Troops who'd never met before.
In the middle of the week comes the famous Tolmers Incident Hike, an 8 mile trek through the Hertfordshire countryside taking in a number of team challenges along the way. The teams are marked for their ability to complete the tasks and for their teamwork. Out of 88 teams taking part, we were very proud to have one team finish in the top 10, beating many older teams made up of Explorers and Rangers. This is even more impressive when you take into account the fact that some team members had only met each other for the first time 4 days earlier.
While we received news from home that South Wales was getting a soaking, we enjoyed fantastic weather - in fact, it was so dry that our Scouts got to spend the last night sleeping under the stars around the camp fire. A totally new experience for most of them.
As the two Troops parted company on the final morning, it was clear that some very real friendships had been made - since our involvement with the 1st Melbourne Scouts came about through Scouting connections made over 25 years ago (One of our leaders was in the same Scout Troop as one of the Derbyshire leaders in the late '80s), we can only hope that these friendships stand the test of time and that the Scouts will begin to form a lasting network.
We're already working on that, in fact, planning a joint visit to an International camp in 2017.
Once again, we'd like to say a very big Thankyou to Ysgol Y Deri in Penarth who assisted with transport