What do you get if you put over 200 activities, approx 7,000 Scouts, Guides, Explorers and Leaders and approx. 1,750 tents? You get Scoutabout, a fun-filled activity weekend held at the South of England Showground in Ardingly.
Scoutabout runs every three years and this year was the tenth to be held at Ardingly. The event, which took place from Friday, June 24 until Sunday, June 26 was organised and attended by Surrey Scouts, Girlguiding Surrey East and Girlguiding Surrey West.
There were more than 200 activities at Scoutabout ranging from parascending to abseiling and from wood-turning to cooking. At Scoutabout, Scouts and Guides have the chance to try new and adventurous activities they would not be able to try at a local level, such as quad biking, car driving, assault courses, archery, abseiling, climbing and caving (The Black Hole) to name but a few. There were also lots of unusual activities such as slate-cleaning, wood-turning, custard-walking and a rock music school. Traditional activities and crafts also had their place such as knotting, branding, cooking and catapults.
Over the weekend the equivalent of 14 Ben Nevis’s were abseiled down, 6,000 young people went through the black hole and 20,000 pellets were shot at targets.
All of these activities were either brought in, run by Surrey Scouts activity clubs or organised by districts to enable the event to be such a success. At every Scoutabout new activities are introduced to keep it fresh and interesting, this year’s highlights included brush boarding and zorbing. All the activities are designed to be fun but some have an educational/serious message to them such as the science bases, graffiti wall and a game brought in by the RNLI.
An event like this doesn’t run its self and it takes more than 18 months of organisation to ensure the weekend is a success. There are many people who are involved who thoroughly enjoy themselves too, but there are five main teams that are core to the weekend:-
Admin – responsible for sending out all the paperwork beforehand, collecting monies from participants/groups and managing the online booking system. At the event the team sorts out the registration of people onsite and collate the large amount of lost property left behind.
Activities – this team sources and organises all the 200 plus activities on and off site, ensuring they are fun, exciting, new, unusual and overall safe.
Site Services – responsible for all the services from cleaning toilets to laying out the camping and activity areas and from putting up tents to litter picking. Stewarding, are responsible for the safety and security of those on site, the first aid and fire teams who look after everyone’s welfare.
Media team – responsible for Scoutabout FM, which apart from providing presenters, prizes and music for the weekend also sorted out the licences to make it possible. There were also a team of photographers who took more than 5,000 pictures over the weekend.
This is the fourth Scoutabout that a radio station has been present on an FM frequency. This year the station broadcasted from Friday lunchtime to Sunday evening on 101.4fm. Competitions were held throughout the weekend with 17 prizes given out from the following sponsors:- Guildford Spectrum, Guildford Flames, Madame Tussauds, Surrey Sports Park, Brooklands Museum, Spirit Healthclub, England Ladies Football Team, Bentley Copse Scout Campsite, University of Surrey, GB Ladies Basketball Team, The Big Apple, Pizza Express, England Ladies Rugby Team, University of Surrey Bookshop and the Guildford School of Acting.
On the Saturday night three bands played on stage, Eighth Time Luckie, The Sanctions and FiguresandBoxes. All were received with enthusiasm and energy with the crowds dancing and cheering. Over the weekend, a mile of sausages were eaten, 6,000 pints of milk were drunk and four-and-half tonnes of pasta was consumed.
It wouldn’t be a Scout/Guide camp without rain and on Friday night it came down but it didn’t stay for long and even though it was foggy on the Saturday morning, by the evening it was glorious sunshine, which stayed for the rest of the weekend. On the Sunday, Meridian TV visited site and filmed a piece for their evening news broadcast, which was showing on the Sunday news highlighting all the fun the Scouts and Guides were having.
The closing ceremony concluded the weekend, which was spectacular to see, with everyone together. It showed how big this event is. At the next Scoutabout we will have a new County Commissioner, as this was Richard Shortman’s last County event before he stands down in the autumn. So see you all at the next Scoutabout in 2014.