John Gillet started a scout troop with the founding patrols drawn mainly from our year.
The following accounts are taken from The Avenue
4th Saffron Walden Scout Troop
After a gap of many years, Scouting in the School was restarted at the end of the Spring Term 1965. It was decided not to have too many in the Troop at first, so we started with twelve, divided into two patrols: the Badgers and the Kestrels. As we have no headquarters yet, meetings have been held on the new field or, in bad weather, in the gym.
We quickly passed our Tenderfoot tests during the Summer Term and also had two weekend training camps at Debden, by the kind permission of Mr and Mrs Mays. The first was held in cold weather and as a lot of us were inexperienced campers, the general standard was not very high; but by the second camp the weather was warm enough to make choc-ices most welcome and, as we had learnt more. we were more successful and certainly enjoyed it. There was great competition between the two patrols and the Assistant District Commissioner, who paid a surprise visit, was clearly impressed by our fireplaces and 'gadgetry'.
At our Friday evening meetings we have had games based on the Scouting skills we have learnt (such as first-aid) and there has been a big emphasis on observation and initiative. On a scavenger hunt we had to produce such unlikely objects as a fly-in-the-ointment and a stick-in-the-mud, and we have also been on treasure hunts around Saffron Walden. On one of these we had to ring up an unknown person and ask: 'Where is the nearest madhouse? ' Another trail led to a house where we inquired: 'Have you got the body? ' On one memorable occasion we had a game where the Badgers were guarding the bridges on the Saffron Walden to Audley End disused branch line while the Kestrels had to try to creep up and 'demolish ' them with rockets. Unfortunately, Audley End station was nearly blown up in the process!
Now we are all trying for our Second Class Badge and during the last few weekends have been doing our eight-mile hikes. We hope the Troop will continue to flourish and we should like, as a Troop, to thank Mr Gillett for all the work he has done.
MARTIN ELLIS, ADRIAN MORRELL
The site of the camp, was halfway down a steep valley in the west Cotswolds, overlooking the Severn into Wales. The field, which was lent to us by a tea magnate and local cattle farmer, was surrounded by miles of dense woods which were full of wild life, including badgers, kestrels, snakes, squirrels and foxes. It was an isolated spot, the nearest farm or road being over half a mile away, and there were fine views to the new suspension bridge, the Malverns and the Black Mountains.
The advance party, consisting of Mr Gillett, Michael Ellis, Mick Harper of the 5th Cambridge and myself, left in the Dormobile after school on the last day of term. At six o'clock we parked as near as we could to the site and as it started to rain we took some of the kit down a treacherously steep, muddy path to the field and erected a tent in gloom illuminated by flashes of lightning. Then we returned to the Dormobile, where we had supper and spent the night.
The next day we were up early, digging the latrine and preparing the main store tent. Mr Ashford arrived at midday with the remaining kit and food in his Landrover, but there had been such heavy rain that he became bogged down in the valley and had to be hauled out by tractor. A little later Mr Allen arrived with the rest of the Scouts, who had a quick lunch and set about erecting tents and digging fireplaces and wet-pits. Each patrol had a separate site and there was much competition to see who could dig the deepest wetpit or build the best 'Guthrum's Glory' (a kind of dresser-table). The Badgers' wet-pit was rather shallow as we came across a layer of solid rock, but Charles Garland dug the Kestrels' so deep that when he stood in it he couldn't be seen! Although it nearly stunned several members of the patrol as we put it up, our Guthrum's Glory was strong enough to provide table and seats for eight, as well as room for storing billies and plates, etc. The Camping Competition was finally won by the Kestrels, but we weren't far behind.
There was plenty of variety in the food: shepherd's pie, toad-in-the-hole (renamed 'frog-in-the-bog') and jam tart cooked in home-made ovens; chops, cheese dreams, steamed puddings and pineapple fritters cooked on trench fires; andbest of all - chicken roasted over the embers of a reflector fire. It was one of the best chickens I have tasted.
We had many expeditions, including those to Painswick and Harescombe Beacons, Belas Knap's Long Barrow, Winchcombe and a wide 'wide game' around Sheepscombe, which should have resulted in mortal combat between ' lamb-lovers ' and 'cheese-chasers'. Although rain came almost every time we put kit out to air, the weather didn't seriously affect our programme, even if the tents were nearly blown away one night.
The end of the camp seemed to come much too soon and we only just put the final touches to our Guthrum's Glories when it was time to dismantle them. On the last full day we partly repaid the farmer's kindness by rounding up his beef cattle ninety cows in nearly a hundred acres -and we should now like to express our thanks to Mick Harper and his brother, and all those who helped with transport. Mr Ellis came in time for the final Camp Fire and the next day, after a frantic rush, we left a very bare-looking field, feeling that the camp had been a great success.
Thursday, 25th February 2021