In October 2013 I wrote a piece for the website about the Cubs narrow boating experience. On contemplating why we take the young people away I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter where we took the young people and I said something along the lines of ‘So where should I take the Cubs next? A nice warm, large, hall in Bracknell, comfy sofas and not a canal, lake or even pond in sight.’ So that is exactly what we did this weekend, except there was a pond.
We stayed at the Guide centre in Bracknell, a nice warm hall, huge kitchen, comfy chairs, two large halls and lots of modern conveniences but what did we do in the middle of Bracknell so close to home and in the middle of a housing estate?
The Foxes Cubs had wanted to do their navigator badge at the beginning of September term but it was way down on their list of things to do. After discussing a few residential themes with the Cubs they decided they wanted to do things with compasses and maps. This suited me down to the ground. In my other volunteer role with Girl Guiding I hold my Level 2 walking which allows me to take groups into open country, Dartmoor for example. I love walking qualification, I love maps and I love passing on skills – perfect. ‘Can we go to the cinema?’ was another suggestion which again in September sounded such a good idea. So we ended up with a weekend planned around maps and a trip to the cinema.
Friday night was all excitement and all about setting up beds next to friends, showing off sleeping bags and generally finding the toilets and where food was going to be cooked because for a Cub it is very important to know when and what you are getting to eat. I also had two excited adults as it was their first camp as well. I have forgotten how excited I was on my first night away with Brownies at seven years old and I have forgotten that going away is such a new experience for Cubs and for adults. For me and the first aider (another old hand at residentials) Friday night was about to be prepared, being organized and ensuring there was a steady supply of coffee. After hot chocolate, hot cross buns, a fire drill, deciding on our rules and making a glow bug it was time for bed. I am always surprised when I take kids away; usually you only get to know them for 1 and half hours a week and sometimes that child is completely different to the one you have for the weekend as was the case his weekend.
By 11.30 the girls were asleep and only a few of the boys were still wiggling in bed. First movements were at 5.15am but after being told it was not time to get up I had peace and quiet until 7.00am.
A flurry of activity had everyone up and dressed, bedrooms tided and sitting eating cereal, 50 rashers of bacon and 30 eggs disappeared in a flash. After chores of washing up, wiping up, sweeping and clearing the table (yes all the Cubs did chores and they know how to)
we sat down and looked at the local area on different types of maps. The Cubs drew their own maps of the area and a route to Jocks Lane Park.
Using the OS Map, a street map and a compass we eventually found our way to Jocks lane were the hi vis jackets the Cubs were wearing came into their own, I could see them all.
Back to the Guide Centre for lunch of hot dogs and only a few moans when I said we were going back out again. This time to follow a trail around the local area, allowing the Cubs to see the type of street furniture we have in Bracknell. The trail led us back to the Guide Centre for cakes and ‘rest hour’ though I have to admit this was more for us leaders than the Cubs who seem to have endless energy.
Tea was jacket potatoes and the Cubs could choose their filling, followed by apple crumble and ice cream. After washing up outside in the dark, this was a firm favourite with the Cubs, there was just time for some craft, covering notebooks and finger monsters, before lights out. Everyone was fast asleep by 9pm.
Sunday saw the Cubs get up a little more slowly but 60 sausages and 54 hash browns soon disappeared. The Cubs then made their packed lunch as we planned to eat at the park. We walked to the cinema where the Cubs each bought their kids fest of popcorn, drink and sweets and we settled in the seats to watch the Disney film ‘Frozen’ it was really, really good and all the Cubs were impeccably behaved.
After another ‘400 mile’ walk in ‘100 degree heat’ the Cubs had time to play and then we walked back. I’m not too sure if it was because the Cubs knew that when we got back it was time to go home or that they were worn out from the 5 miles we had walked over the weekend.
Asking the Cubs what they liked the best, we had ‘sleeping with all my friends’, ‘playing in the park’, ‘the food’, ‘seeing the film’ and ‘the zip wire’. When asked where they want to go and do the next residential, we had ‘somewhere with a big zip wire’, ‘somewhere to walk the plank’, ‘bunk beds’, ‘near to a play park’, ‘3 nights’, ‘apple crumble’ and ‘no more walking’ and for us leaders ‘decent showers’. If anyone has any suggestions of a location let me know.
This was presented for publication in March, but editorial constraints have delayed it [Ed.]