These last few months I have done a fair amount of lectures to various National Organisations from Scottish Mountain Rescue on their 50 th Anniversary, Braemar MRT on their 50 Th Anniversary, The Mountain Bothies Association on theirs as well plus a few others. Last night was a small chat with my local Explorer Scouts at Kinloss to end the year for me. Kinloss is where I started my RAF career in Catering and with the Mountain Rescue Team in 1972, the building I spoke in was part of the NAFFI where as a young lad I loaded the rations for a busy station of over 3000 people. It was hard back-breaking work, no health and Safety in these days and for a skinny lad it was so physical, but what training for the mountains! My pals were going to gym after work I had done it all during the day and just needed to rest!
I arrived last night for the chat to the Daedalus Explorer Scouts at Kinloss and a group of youngsters had just completed the Bronze Duke Of Edinburgh Award. The Bronze team from the Explorers consisted of Cameron Fullerton, George Cannard, James Burnel, Fraser Haig and Nathan MacRae. They gave an illustrated chat on their adventure that was an eye opener to me. They chose the Cairngorms for their adventure from Glenmore Lodge past the Green Loch and along Strath Nethy to Loch Avon on a 3 day wander with 2 nights under canvas. They all took turns to speak and revelled in their experience in these big mountains and the grandeur of such a place.
It was a magic Green Loch and a very muddy Stath Nethy in places and the wild Loch Avon and the huge cliffs that are about that they spoke about. There were some great tales of the meals, pitching tents,weather, being tired, the big bags and as always for youngsters the need for more food. Their chat was exciting and those who take these places for granted want to listen to these youngster, they were so visual in their love of this place and what they had experienced. They spoke about working as a team not at first but by day two the were a well oiled machine according to the Assessor and they answered about 10 questions from the audience of proud parents and friends. What a presentation I had to follow and one of the best I have ever seen by youngsters.
One of the lads was as small as me when I was his age and the photos of him and his huge bag took me back to my early days with the Boys Brigade and my DOE awards as a young lad. These early days in Galloway for me were so similar as the adventure the boys described. I had a few slides by chance of the area of the Cairngorms they were in and showed them some climbs on the Loch Avon basin where they camped. They were enthralled by the names of the Cliffs like Hells Lum and the parents looked amazed and the boys wanting more and bigger adventures.
We talked about the love of the wild and the experiences that make your life by going into the mountains and wild places and the pals you meet on your travels. I showed them some gear and we had a laugh and a few of the adventures/ mishaps I have had and a few Rescues one of the Scout we found alive after 3 days on Ben Nevis many years ago. We ended with where and what can they do next for their Silver Expedition and I gave them a few ideas and maybe able to help them. I spoke about the need to look after the wild places and the environment and they were well versed in this, these youngsters were well-trained indeed and a credit to their families and leaders.
After this we had a drink and festive food and I spoke to the proud parents so happy that they had been to see the journey their kids had travelled. A few were worried about the trip when it was being planned but the safety systems were in place and the band of assessors and leaders are to be congratulated on their efforts. In these days of a risk averse world their reward was like mine in the faces of these young people speaking about their great adventure.
I left them sorting out the hall all helping as a team and one lad asking me about the Alps and other places and what can they do to get more adventure? Morayshire has so much on its doorstep and they are lucky that they live here and what a start they have towards their future. I hope to get together this Summer and maybe take them to a high crash site and feed the adventure within their souls.
Thanks to Kinloss Explorer Scouts for a rewarding and entertaining night, enjoy the mountains and wild places and keep that unbounded enthusiasm it is infectious even to an old man like me.
These organisations are always looking for help can you, it can really make a difference.
John Muir got it right again!
The first comment thanks!
“Fantastic the DofE is still inspiring the young to put down their Xbox or Playstation’s an explore the real world.”