It has been a while…

I’m sorry that there hasn’t been a write up for a while and I’m not promising that there will be another any time soon. Since the last Hatters blog we have only been away on over a dozen camps or expeditions in 3 different countries so there really hasn’t been a lot to talk about.

Not long after the previous blog a group of us had the honour and privilege of attending the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey. It was a very special year to be in attendance due to it being included as part of The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. To quote one of the explorers, Her Majesty was “so close [we] could have tripped her up”. To be clear, we didn’t!

At the end of March we spent Easter weekend camping a short walk from a Llama Farm for what was known as the time, as Llama Camp. It will be remembered for Storm Katie!

April 2016 – 6 teams in the London Monopoly Run (another superb event – thanks Mike) and some of the Unit went for a short break in Normandy. The expedition was organised and planned entirely by one of the young people and the intention was for Arromanches to be the key research element but in the end there was rather more study of flora and fauna. Meanwhile, the Bandanas convincingly won the coveted Explorer Chef trophy.

In May we took care of the BBQ on May Day and cooked all of the bacon for Fayre’s bacon butty stall and some of us went along to help the 6th at their annual family camp. In June a few of the Unit provided the catering for all of Southgate District at GLNs CUBS100 camp to celebrate 100 years of Cub Scouts and two weeks later we were at our own District Scout and Explorer camp. On Monday nights we had a lot of fun over the summer term; International night was as ever, an excuse to eat, there was a visit from an active policeman, Hunger Games and we finished the term on the water at Phoenix Outdoor Centre.

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July is always a busy month and the most stressful for your poor, hopeless leaders. Someone, somewhere, several years ago decided that thousands of teenagers in one place, wearing exactly the same t-shirt making them indistinguishable having a 24 hour party filled with activities would be a fantastic idea. I’m in no doubt that Explorers completely agree. Whoever this person is, they have obviously never been responsible for a hundred young people at such an event… Still, the kids enjoyed themselves.

Summer Camp was in Austria in 2016 and it was a fantastic two weeks at Zellhof; stunning scenery, lovely people, a magnificent lake and most important of all… a bakery with astonishingly yummy cakes. Our day out at the Salt Mines, Caves and Five Fingers was on the one hand a day none of us will forget for all of the right reasons but also immensely disappointing because calling something a mammoth cave because it is really big is not on – where were the mammoths?! We made a lot of friends but none more special than Christof, the eccentric umbrella wielding tour guide who sang to us, danced with one of us and was very gracious when we all fell asleep…

On to September and new members of the unit. Lots and lots and lots of new members… We went back to Westminster Abbey for a tour and helped with the Oshwal Centre’s Jain Community Family Camp. A small group of us went camping at Harmergreen Wood to go for a tour of Knebworth House at the end of September and then a larger group of us went to Gilwell Scarefest over Halloween with the Winchmore Hill Unit. Last term we covered human rights, mental health and well being, Diwali and first aid. I thought the most interesting Monday night was with Paul Dockley on a police investigation that he was in the middle of for chunk of his career (I’ve never seen 50 Explorer Scouts so quiet and engaged).

In December we saw money come rolling in for the Sustainable Development Fund as a result of Joe’s trees and the explorers working hard at supermarket, coffee mornings and in the kitchen. Sophie was our highlight of the panto again, even if she was responsible for the Dame Caroline incident… We had a lovely time at our Ice Skating Sleepover and then a few of us enjoyed a really great weekend away for New Year’s Eve in the Peak District.

To cut a very long story short, it’s been fantastic and that’s down to the wonderful explorers. We’ve been busy, we’ll be getting busier still and 2017 has already got off to a fun start. More pictures, more blogs, more fun, adventure and madness in due course.