Night Hike

The highlight for 22 explorers this half term has been our Night Hike in September. It was the story of two teams, two routes, two new torches, two pies and two hours’ sleep (for those lucky enough to get it).

We met at the 6th Southgate HQ. The Explorers were briefed and planned a route to walk from Waterfall Road to Tolmers Campsite in Cuffley (specifically, without the use of the very handy train line from Palmers Green). The two groups came up with different routes and after they were reminded of the rules, the law, and after a quick equipment check they were off.

They completed the walk overnight and in good time. Both set off at about quarter to ten and the first group made it back after two and second after three. It was a little wet when they set off but for the most part, enjoyed a good walk in good weather for a September night. They arrived back looking like they needed a well-earned rest…how wrong we were.

Upon arrival, there were hot drinks available and then we made them all a sausage sandwich and allowed them to tuck into the crisps and fruit that we had provided as well as copious quantity of sugar that they brought along. That is where it all went wrong. A sugar overload led to a night of jumping up and down on mattresses and not getting the rest that we hoped for.

Finally, some of them got a few hours of sleep before a full English breakfast and a minion assisted clean up.

Holland ’15

Buitenzorg, Baarn (Netherlands)

As last minute Summer Camps go, it wasn’t too bad (OK, understatement, we had a brilliant time).

There was a little discontent at 5am on departure day because the Explorers hadn’t seen 5am before, but after a short drive and a long ferry journey to Holland, the atmosphere improved and the tone for a wonderful trip was set; the unit made camp efficiently in the glorious sunshine which we enjoyed almost all week.

On Monday, the unit were eased into camp with a lot of free time, a quick clean of the site toilets, pioneering, exploring of the site and surroundings and the explorers also enjoyed a rare lay in. On Tuesday, the group were split in two; half travelling to Duinrell Theme Park and the other enjoying a sedate (wet) start but then a stunning afternoon of sunshine at the local outdoor swimming pool.

Wednesday saw the two groups stay apart for a hike through the Dutch countryside meeting conveniently at the middle, in a small village famous for having little but four amazing pancake houses. Having been treated to some pancakes, the two parties carried on and met us back at the campsite for dinner. On Wednesday night, the unit attended the site’s international campfire and we played host on several occasions to Irish, Danish or German Scouts (plus the not so international Leeds and Sheffield groups).

On the Wednesday, the Unit’s leader team and some of the Explorers were treated to a seminar on using the new unit whisks and as a result have qualified for ‘Module 32A Advanced Whisking with EU Compliance and Dutch Bylaws’. It was a very thorough module and the explorers were pretty shocked at how seriously the leader team took the training. The outcome was some pink, yellow and brown industrial sludge/angle delight type ‘food’ for pudding.

The amazing weather of Wednesday carried on through Thursday for the reverse of what the two groups had done on Tuesday and it stayed with us for a sweltering day in Amsterdam on Friday. The explorers had a chance to explore the city and to buy presents… and then we spent some time on a floating greenhouse seeing Amsterdam from the canals before a quick ice cream on our way back to the station.

The sun was still beaming on Saturday so we started slowly, took advantage of the weather and returned to the outdoor pool before an evening of pizza, campfire sketches and songs. On Sunday morning, before departing, Sarah and Dave were both invested in front of the main buildings on site and once I had emptied my tent of the fruit and vegetables placed there by a rogue Tigger, it was time to go.

It was a great week, only let down on this occasion by the fact that it couldn’t be two!