I am preparing a wee chat to the Explorer Scouts at Kinloss tonight and it will be interesting to see how they find it. I started my walking with my family at a very young age and joined the Boys Brigade and enjoyed the Duke of Edinburgh (DOE) Award the expedition part was great fun. When I look back I was very young thrown in to make up the numbers of the Gold Award in the wilds of Galloway (You needed 4 to take part and I offered, I doubt if you could do that nowadays? The others were 15 !) I remember the huge bags and the weather was wintry and getting flooded out camping, we stayed near my first bothy Back Hill Bush in Galloway. Yet that memory stayed with me for the rest of my life and was a big part of what I came to love. I still do not understand why the need for such gear carried by kids and I did some training for DOE a few years ago and was amazed how much they have still have to carry? How many young people find this a huge turn off or is it just me. To most this will be the first foray into the wilds and does it need to change or am I way out of touch ? (Some great answers below on my lack of knowledge thanks that is what it is all about) I do understand that the process and training is a slow build up of skills and experience by all involved and is huge team building and character making attributes for all involved . Any comments?
Looking back I found it great to get away on the hills and even with a group of 4 look after myself,I was lucky that my Mum had taught me to cook the basics and that stood me in good stead. To get a stove or a fire going with no adults was a great experience and to learn the basics of navigation and map reading great fun. The big bag and the wet gear and total exhaustion at times were hard going but to make a cup of tea and the beans and sausages eaten with relish. I loved sorting out the basic gear and always took to much and then coming back and sorting it out for the next trip? I was hooked on the outdoors and hope some of that rubs of the Explorer Scouts I speak to tonight?
It is not just about the mountains but the wild places and the great opportunities we have in Scotland, from Mountain Biking, Skiing, Kayaking, surfing and many others. It is magic to see the young people involved and getting out in the wild places and hopefully finding a love of these wild places.
Some great comments below:
Mountain bike with trailer or open canoe is the way to carry your kit. smile emoticon We’re lucky enough to have a great gang of volunteers; helpers, assistants, adminers and supervisors and a good relationship with neighbouring (Moray DofE) assessors who have helped us out in our first year of operations. Also highlife Highland have been fantastic in helping and giving guidance/advice. Lots of positive energy enabled us to have 4 successful bronze groups and 2 silver groups this year. More happening this year…….
I think its a great thing for kids and mine have been involved. The last one at school ,She is our third, and I would say that the study burden on 5/6th year kids wanting to go to uni is now so much higher to the point of being ridiculous and there isn’t a lot of time for these other personal development things like DOE. 6th years or doing advanced highers is like Uni year 1 so would make the gold harder to achieve. As I say I am big fan of the scheme as although my kids have had a lot of outdoor stuff, many dont and its where the learn best to work together and learn some good life skills. Anyone involved with DOE deserves a pat on the back.
Stll involved, mainly assessing and supervising but concerned at the drop out rate from bronze to silver to gold which needs to be addressed. I realise there are many conflicting pressures on young folk, but some seem to manage it. Also concerned at the growth in ‘Activity providers’, these professionals are churning kids through the system like a sausage machine with many providing their own so called independent assessors. I spoke to an assesor from south of the border who was going to be assessing 200 bronze one weekend! Assessors should be completely independent and resident or very experienced in the area of the expedition. Thats my moan!
I don’t think so. They can lighten the weight by not taking GPS units, mobile phones, chargers etc, they just need to share. Pack bags weeks before going, get together with an expert one night and go through your load to see what you can do without, share or definitely need to take. Regardless of your rucksack line it with a waterproof liner or bag, outdoor shops sell these, or you can use black plastic bags or rubble bags.
Good luck on tonight’s talk, I’m sure you’ll inspire the next generation. My Mum ran DofE for around 20 years, she’s got plenty of tips, advice and suitable routes for walking, pop up past her new house for a coffee anytime!