1st Caterham (St Mary’s) Scout Group continues to be an active group. We are one of the eleven scout groups in the Caterham District with approximately 15 Beaver Scouts (aged between 5¾ and 8 years old), 18 Cub Scouts (8 to 10 ½ years old) and 12 Scouts (10.5 to 14.5 years old), we have boys and girls in all sections. The year presented a number of challenges including finishing in lockdown and programmes switching to online (more about this in next year’s report).
We do have a fantastic band of adult leaders who are dedicated to providing a challenging and varied programme which is fun for all ages of our children. If anyone would like to come and help us, we would love to hear from you. Beavers run on Thursdays 6.15 to 7.15, Cubs on Tuesdays from 6.30 to 8.00 and Scouts on Thursdays from 7.30 to 9.30. I am indebted to the leaders volunteering their time; Rachel Starling, supported by Simon Brown who run beavers; Steve Drewett and Dave Osborne looking after cubs and the scout section led by Barry Moye with support from Neil Burtenshaw, Neil Staton and Steve Wingrave. We do need to broaden our team of leaders to provide great capacity and support for the sections, particularly as all the people involved have full time work and other commitments. . If anyone would like to come and help us, we would love to hear from you. I am pleased to welcome Nick, Jo and Cathy who are taking the first steps in joining the leadership team.
The group, in common with many voluntary organisations, is hugely dependent on these volunteers, and we are grateful for the time that many people give to the group, both as uniformed leaders and as members of the group executive, who also act as trustees for the group. I would like to express my thanks to the uniformed leaders and to the Group’s Executive Officers, Celia Rudland – Chairman, and Di Haslam –Treasurer, and to Alan Day as assistant GSL.
The group doesn’t currently have a secretary, meaning that administration and management of meetings, such as the AGM, falls on the shoulders of the exec. so we are now on the lookout for someone who can take over this role; I would appeal to all the people with an interest in the group, parents, grandparents and the wider community to consider whether they could volunteer some time to help the scout group in any way, eg: the secretary role is only for a small number of meetings each year!
All three sections have enjoyed indoor and outdoor activities over the last year, some specifically geared towards gaining their activity badges, others just towards having a good time. The beavers have been on walks locally in Caterham, had visitors to talk about a variety of topics, taken part in outdoor & adventurous activities, and made loads of things of a craft(y) nature! Cubs have cooked, ridden bikes, walked, swum, boated and celebrated. The scouts have done a lot of cooking, played games, studied the world and participated in loads of outdoor activities such as walking, camping, sailing, climbing and more camping.
The Group held its traditional annual camp over the May Day Bank Holiday; this time we went to a fairly local District campsite at Downe which is just around the corner from Biggin Hill Airport. The cubs and scouts arrived on the Friday evening and we left at the Sunday lunchtime. The group camp for May 2020 was intended to be at Broadstone Warren in Sussex but, unfortunately this had to be cancelled, alongside many other scouting activities, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scouts also took advantage of the, supposedly, warm and dry summer to join scouts from across the world at Charnwood in Leicestershire, unfortunate the camp was disrupted by continual rain in the lead up and for the first 3 days of the camp, turning the site into a quagmire, I have never seen so much mud at a camp! However, we made many friends, including hosting a group from Taiwan.
1st Caterham has also supported the local community by taking part in the Remembrance Day parade in Caterham on the Hill, we also take part in the St Georges Day parade in Caterham valley, which involves all of the groups in the district. We have also supported the Caterham Festival and Carnival, the Dene fireworks, the Bunny fun run and have sung Christmas carols.
When the young people move on from scouts and want to stay within the scouting family, they have the option to join the Caterham explorer unit or to just stay with the scouts as Young Leaders (officially as explorers) to gain their Duke of Edinburgh bronze and silver awards. The explorer unit is run centrally by Caterham scouts but, again, is often hampered by a lack of adult leaders.
As reported last year, our hut is getting quite old and the maintenance problems that entails are increasing; we own our own building, which is located in the car park of Hillcroft school. The roof continues to be a cause of concern, although it was only repaired a couple of years ago, we still have leaks and it is now probably beyond patching and requires complete replacement, there is also work to do on the boiler and the electrics.
These items require major fund-raising and our reserves are now lower than we would like. The Executive would welcome any help to coordinate this and any fund-raising suggestions would be welcome.
Over the past few Christmases, we have run our ‘Scout Christmas Post’ as a fund-raising venture. For the grand sum of 30p per card, we delivered cards within the CR3 area just before Christmas. We placed 14 boxes around the area. It has proved to be successful and we see it as being a community service as well as a major fund-raising venture; with the help of parents delivering cards we raised just over £450 towards our Group funds, this like many other things will have to be reviewed in the light of Covid. The group was a beneficiary of the 2019 Caterham Carnival and has offered support to future carnivals, as and when they can happen, and is also a named charity on the Tandridge Lottery.
Scouts, as an organisation, have proved resilient in the current climate and whilst the switch to online programmes has kept momentum and contact, we need to get back to face-to-face scouting safely so that the young people can experience many activities which they would not otherwise be able to do. We are only limited by a lack of adults to help, please contact me if you might be able to help! The scout association provides an extensive training programme, including mandatory, regular, training in safety, safeguarding, first aid and data protection.
If you would like to help the group in anyway, particular in the areas detailed above, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Brownless – Group Scout Leader