Monday, 18 April 2016

Being A Leader

Turning 18 meant that I was no longer an Explorer Scout (It also meant that I was legally an adult, WOW!). However, I wasn’t ready to give up on my Scouting adventures just yet. Becoming a leader allowed me to give something back to the Scout group that provided me with so many fantastic, once in a life time opportunities which helped shape me into the person I am today.

All grown up!

I started off as an Assistant Beaver Scout Leader, so this includes kids aged 5-8. I had a great time with the Beavers and it was amazing being able to assist in their scouting journeys. However, it didn’t take me long to recognise that I really missed all the great adventures of regularly hiking, abseiling, climbing and camping. Which is when I decided to join the Explorer Scout Section.
Being a younger leader, not long out of Explorers myself was a distinct advantage to me and the Scouts. I had a good understanding of what they liked and disliked which allowed me to effectively contribute when planning weekly programmes and activities. When I was in Scouts and Explorers, one thing which the majority of us really disliked was what we called the ‘boring stuff’ this included learning knots and lashings, navigation and basically all the useful things like first aid. Now that I am older, I really appreciate that my leaders drummed all these useful skills into our heads over the years. But at the time, I just always wanted to play games and get out and do some fun activities. So, with this in mind, whenever I am planning the weekly programme and things which the explorers may find boring are include, I always try and make it a little bit more fun for them by turning it into a game or even a relay race between the patrols- one thing us Scouts love is a bit of competition.

I am still learning so much being an Assistant Explorer Scout Leader and hope to continue to learn and grow. It is such a worthwhile experience, even though it can be hard work. After all, the Explorers do need ‘responsible’ adults to accompany them on all their amazing and fun adventures- bonus! 

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Queen Scout Award

The Queen Scout Award is the highest award you can achieve in Scouting. I heard so much about the award over the years of being a Scout and I promised myself that one day I would achieve the award myself. It is a very difficult award to achieve and requires a lot of commitment and dedication. Around 500 Scouts in the UK achieve their QSA and are invited to Windsor Castle to celebrate their achievement. Working towards the award was very challenging however the overall experience was very rewarding and I am very proud that I achieved such a distinguished award.

Presented my QSA Award

Windsor Castle

There are a number of requirements of the QSA including the completion of a number of activities, a minimum of 18 nights camping within Scouting and the completion of 5 challenges. These challenges include a skill, physical activity, service, expedition and residential. Personally I found the completion of these challenges the most difficult part as it required a lot of time and commitment, however it was very rewarding and was good fun. It even kept me fit as I set myself regular challenges at the gym for a period of 12 months for my physical challenge. The challenge I found most enjoyable was the expedition. For this, I completed a 5 day sailing trip with Ocean Youth Trust. This was a fantastic experience as it allowed me to learn new skills and develop my team working skills as I was working closely with others. We set sail from Oban and originally planned to sail to Ireland, however the weather wasn’t great so we just sailed around Scotland instead which was still fantastic. We even stopped off at Tobermory for a few hours which was great to see, it is possibly the prettiest port in Scotland with all its lovely colourful houses. I was just so excited to say I have been to Balamory.

OYT Sailing Trip

I was so excited to head to Windsor to celebrate my achievement. The parade was amazing and is an experience I will always remember. We marched around into Windsor Castle, where we were met and greeted by the Duke of Kent, Bear Grylls and Wayne Bullpit the UK Chief Commissioner. My time at Windsor was even more special as my best friend Linzi and a few other friends from my group and district had also achieved the award. This meant we were able to celebrate our achievement together.

Parade at Windsor Castle

Scottish Queen Scout's at Windsor Castle

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Saturday, 9 April 2016


If you have been following my blog, you have probably gathered by now that I love a bit of adventure- well, what scout doesn’t? I have been lucky enough to take part in a large amount of activities that I probably never would have even dreamed of partaking in if it wasn’t for scouts. Thinking back, the list of activities seems endless but my favourites include: kayaking, canoeing, climbing, abseiling, coasteering, sailing and archery.


I have been to lots of great places to participate in these activities and have such great memories. One thing I am grateful to my Scout leaders for, is introducing to me all these amazing activities. A few of them are now hobbies of mine. For example, kayaking. I LOVE kayaking! I hope to get my own kayak very soon (when I’m no longer a poor student) so I can just go out whenever I want.

One activity which stands out for me is coasteering. I have did this twice in Guernsey. It was a terrifying, adrenaline rushing activity that I am thrilled to say I have took part in. We would start off on the beach and then swim out in the FREEZING cold sea. The instructors would play a few games with us to try and warm everyone up. We then climbed over some rocks and crawled through some caves. Then came the scary part. We climbed up the side of cliffs and would jump in to the water. Although it was so much fun, when you get up to the top and look over, it always seems so much higher than it is. I remember hesitating every time I looked over, and kept running back from the edge. Eventually I gathered up the courage and shut my eyes and leaped off the edge. After that, I couldn’t stop. It was such a great adrenaline rush and was so much fun.


Although I am lucky enough to have participated in so many great activities, there are still a few that I am determined to tick off my bucket list, including white water rafting. Hopefully I will be able to tick that one off my list this summer after our adventure filled summer camp to Switzerland! There are several more activities on my list such as sky diving, bungee jumping etc. Of course, I will do that in my own time and not in a Scouting situation (I’m pretty sure jumping out of a plane with Scouts is frowned upon). 

Fun in Canoes

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Thursday, 7 April 2016


It has almost became a tradition for my Scout group to go to Guernsey for Summer Camp. It is a great place with so great places to visit, exciting activities to take part in and there is usually great weather in the summer so that is always a bonus. I have now been twice, once as an Explorer Scout and once as a Leader. I really enjoyed both, but I think my first experience as an Explorer Scout was probably the best for me as I was only 14 so it was all new and exciting for me.

I can remember the whole trip so vividly, even though it was nearly 8 years ago. We took part in some great activities, visited nearby islands, learned about history and just explored the beautiful island of Guernsey. It was also my birthday when we were out there and I was so excited. My leaders got me a card everyone had signed, a lovely birthday cake and we all went bowling. I had such a great night.

Happy memories in Guernsey
(My friend Linzi and I on my 15th birthday in Guernsey, looking ever so cool!)

There was so many high points of this trip including learning about the history through visiting military museums and many of the bunkers around the island. We also participated in many activities such as coasteering, surfing and fishing. Surfing was a particular highlight for me. It was something I had never tried before and I was so excited to give it a go. Although it was so fun, it was really difficult. I managed to stand up once- for a whole 2 seconds before I fell back in (it still counts). For those 2 seconds, I was surfing those waves like a professional surfer.

Another thing I really enjoyed was when we visited the remote little island of Sark. Sark is a 50 minute boat ride from Guernsey. It is a very traditional island with only 600 inhabitants. There is no cars on the island so the modes of transport include horses and bikes. When we arrived on the island we walked around for a while taking in the beautiful sights. We then took a tour of the highland on a horse and carriage ride. It was really interesting to hear about the way of life on the island and it was great to see the wonderful sights. There was also a beautiful sandy beach on Sark. I clearly remember the tiring trek to the beach (there was what felt like 1 million stairs) but the stunning secluded beach was worth it. Overall, it was a fantastic and unique experience.

Horse and carriage in Sark

Guernsey was a great place for a summer camp, there was so much to learn and experience. I would highly recommend it to other Scout groups who are looking for a summer camp destination. 

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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The 22nd World Scout Jamboree

We were finally here. I was so excited! I had expected the campsite to be big but it was quite unbelievable. It was HUGE! When we arrived there weren’t many unit campsites built up yet and it still felt massive. The campsite was split into 4 towns: Summer, Winter, Autumn and Spring. Within each town there was numerous sub-camps which were named after cities, rivers and provinces in Sweden. My unit were in Svedala sub-camp in Autumn town. Each town had their own big attraction. For example, Winter actually had their own mini ice skating rink and Autumn had a mini theme park built entirely from wood and timber, it was amazing.

Once we got over the complete shock and excitement, we were shown to our campsite and started to set up camp. This was very important to us as this was going to be our home for the next 10 nights- it had to be perfect. We also decided that we wanted to have the tallest gateway in Autumn- not that I am biased or anything, but we definitely did.

Our gateway

That night we had the opening ceremony. All of the forty thousand scouts gathered together in a big field to celebrate the start of the 22nd World Scout Jamboree. The ceremony included the official handover from Great Britain to Sweden. This was done because the 21st WSJ was held in the UK so it was passed over to Sweden. The handover was very exciting as it involved Bear Grylls abseiling down from the stage. The ceremony also included a performance of the Jamboree song- “Changing the World.” Each Jamboree has its very own song, and ours was very catchy. My favourite part of the night was the procession of the flags. There was one flag representing each country present at the Jamboree. It was amazing to see the amount of different places everyone had travelled from, to be together for such a great event.

Opening ceremony- Procession of the flags

There was always lots going on. There were planned activities almost every day and we constantly had something to do. If I’m being totally honest, the activities where never really that great but it didn’t matter. The best part was making new friends and learning about different cultures. My favourite days were the days we had our own free time. We would always spend these days just wandering about, going to the many different cafes available and just talking to new people.

There was so many highlights of the Jamboree for me, I couldn’t pick just one. The overall experience was just phenomenal. It was always really funny when we walked about the camp in our kilts as lots of people would always stop us and ask to take pictures with us. It was kind of like being a celebrity- I won’t lie, we loved it! One Chinese Scout actually offered to trade me her whole uniform and various other items for my kilt.

Happy Memories

This picture perfectly sums up the Jamboree experience for me. I was always laughing and having a great time. 

Meeting Bear Grylls
Presenting Bear with our Neckie

Oh and did I mention Bear Grylls came to visit us at our campsite? Yes, that actually did happen :)!

One day in particular that I really enjoyed was a day in which each unit would prepare a stall with various foods and items which effectively portrayed their own countries’ culture. For this day my unit had lots of Scottish flags draped across our campsite with all things tartan surrounding the table. Of course we had some Irn-bru for people to sample because after all, what’s more Scottish than Irn-bru. On this day, Linzi, Marie-Claire and I were roped into performing some traditional Highland dancing- very embarrassing. We would take turns manning our Scottish stall so when we had a break we had the opportunity to wander about and visit different stalls. It was great to see what each unit had come up with. My favourite stall was definitely one of the Italian stalls, purely because they had pizza!

Highland Dancing

The closing ceremony was another fantastic night. Although it was emotional because it was our last night at the Jamboree, I had a great and memorable night. The famous Rock band Europe performed live and the King of Sweden even joined us.

Overall, the 22nd World Scout Jamboree was a fantastic experience which I will remember for the rest of my life. It really was a once in a life time opportunity and I am so thankful to have experienced it. 

Saltire Unit at the 22nd WSJ

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Monday, 4 April 2016

The Journey to the Jamboree.....

The World Scout Jamboree is a once in a lifetime opportunity which takes place every four years. It is an incredible event which welcomes tens of thousands of Scouts from all around the world to camp together for 10 days. In 2011, I was lucky enough to attend the 22nd WSJ in Sweden. There was over 40,000 Scouts from 146 different countries, which made this Jamboree the largest in the history of Scouting. The Jamboree truly was a spectacular, life-changing event which I will remember for the rest of my life.

A Jamboree is a much sought after event as they only take place every 4 years. This meant that there was a tough selection process as only a limited number of people from each district could attend. The selection process took place 2 years before the event to allow plenty of time to fundraise, prepare and get to know the people within your unit well. My unit was called the Saltire Unit and was made up of Scouts from all over Scotland including Greenock, Dumfries, Kilmarnock and Langholm. We had regular meeting nights and camps so the unit had plenty of opportunities to get to know each other and make friends before the Jamboree. I always really enjoyed these events as they always got me very excited for our big adventure. There was a lot of fundraising involved in the lead up but this was expected for such a large event and was all part of the experience. 

A few days before the Jamboree we were paired up with Scouts from Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands and Tonga. They flew to Scotland prior to the Jamboree which gave us all the opportunity to get to know them before flying out to Sweden. It was an honour to have been able to share the experience with them. They certainly added to the overall experience for me as they allowed me to appreciate and learn about their culture and way of life.

All the UK Scouts received the same equipment for heading to the Jamboree. This included a large holdall, a bag pack, a fleece and all the tents which we would use in Sweden were also the same. So it was very easy to identify UK Scouts as we all looked exactly the same. It was even easier to spot, a Scottish Scout- all the matching equipment but with a kilt on as well. So looking all lovely and identical, we were ready to head to the 22nd World Scout Jamboree.

The Saltire Unit

Before we headed to Sweden, all the UK Contingents went to Denmark for 2 days first. This was amazing! We were put up in hotels just filled with Scouts and we took part in some great activities. One of the best parts of Denmark was going to Tivoli. This is a great big amusement park with plenty of fun and terrifying rides. I remember dragging my friend Linzi on all the really scary rides- she did not thank me for that. The last night was a lot of fun as Alphabeat performed for all the Scouts. It was a great night and got us all even more excited for heading to Sweden.


The next morning we were packed and ready to head to Sweden…….

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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Blair Atholl International Jamborette

Blair Atholl is an International Jamborette which welcomes over 1,000 scouts and leaders from all over the world to Perthshire, Scotland for a 10 day camp. It takes place every 2 years and allows scouts from all different backgrounds to make new friends, learn about different cultures and take part in different activities and challenges.

In 2008, I was one of the lucky scouts who was selected to attend the International Jamborette. I had heard so much about Blair Atholl from a few of the older scouts who had been before, so I was very excited to experience it for myself.

Upon arriving at the camp, all the Scottish scouts were shown to their sub camps where they would be staying for the next 10 days. There was 6 sub camps- MacLean, Robertson, Stewart, MacDonald, Murray and Morrison. Each sub camp had an ‘Uncle’ or an ‘Aunt’, who had the role of camp chief along with several assistant aunts and uncles who would all act as leaders and friends for the participants during their time at Blair Atholl. The sub camp my patrol and I were in was MacLean (The best!) with Aunt Eva. We had to build our own little camp site within MacLean camp, preparing for the arrival of our overseas patrol the next morning. 

MacLean Sub Camp
(The little orange tent you can see, was mine and Linzi's)

We were paired up with a patrol of boys from Maryland, America. It was great to be able to share the experience with them as it allowed us to learn about their own scouting experiences and how it was different from ours. We had a lot of fun sharing our Scottish culture, food and drinks with them. One of the boys enjoyed Irn-Bru a little bit too much- he would drink a 2 litre bottle every day which was evidenced by the permanent orange lip he had for the duration of the camp.

The Jamborrette was just like a home from home. It had everything you could have wanted (apart from a bed of course). The ‘Kastle’ was a large marquee which was the central hub of the camp. It was home to the Kastle Kafe; Kastle Kurrency- the onsite bank; Kastle Kashbash- the camp shop; and even a theatre. It was just like a little village.
Each night there was always exciting things happening at the Kastle, whether it was a disco, a ceilidh or a talent show, there was always something going on to bring all the participants together. My favourite night was definitely the night of the ceilidh. I have hilarious memories of being swung around the marquee dancing the Gay Gordons.
My friend Linzi and I were encouraged to perform highland dancing at the talent show- and when I say encouraged, I mean forced into it (I was not overly enthusiastic about getting up on that stage and dancing in front of hundreds of people). But looking back, I am glad I did it. It was one of those terrifying albeit fun moments that I will always remember. In case you are wondering, we didn't win the talent show. We really weren't that great, but hey, everyone loves a trier.  

Highland Dancing
(As you can see, I look very embarrassed and was just praying I didn't fall)

There was a wide range of activities for the scouts to take part in including gorge walking, mountain biking, go-karting, swimming, ready-steady-cook, and all terrain boarding. I remember taking part in the all-terrain boarding activity very clearly, purely because I was terrible at it. I spent most of that day falling on my bum. Although some of the activities were really fun and exciting, the best part of the whole experience for me, was during our free time when we were able to wander about the camp and meet lots of new people. It was great to learn about different cultures and make new friends from all around the world. I met people from America, Canada, Gibraltar and Japan and it was great to have shared my experience with them.

On the last night, all of the scouts gathered together in one big group for one last time. The most memorable part of that night for me was the fact that the whole Jamborette sat together and sang some typical scout songs. One of the songs I vividly remember singing just because it was so catchy and fun was called- Start wearing purple. Even as I am typing this, I am singing the song out loud: “Start wearing purple, wearing purple na na na na na, start wearing purple, be a scout”. Yes, that will be stuck in my head for hours now. The other song that I clearly remember was called ‘The Blair Atholl Song’. For me, this was a more emotional song as it allowed me to think about my time at Blair Atholl.

Whilst writing this post, I have surprised myself with how much I remember so vividly about my experience at Blair Atholl considering it was 8 years ago, however, I will cherish these memories as it was a fantastic experience that I am lucky to have took part in.

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