Friday, August 29, 2008

Drying Out

Above : The heavy rain has left some parts of the site slightly damp.

Above : One of the drier bits.

Well, that's both big camps of the summer over now - the Festival camp which was quickly followed (a few hours later!) by the national Young Firefighters camp, both for around 650. Whilst the Festival campers had some pretty decent weather, the firefighters weren't quite so lucky and after some torrential rain midweek a fair number of them decided to head home a wee bit early.

After the last survivors had left, it was pretty obvious that large areas of the site would take a while to dry out, the worst being the area behind the flagpole which has a historic habit of flooding. Despite the soggy conditions, there were no shortage of new groups arriving on site to camp, most taking the sensible option of camping on the high ground near the top of the caves.

Above : A Scout's brave attempt to escape from the rising floodwaters is cruelly ended.

Over the past few weekends since then, the staff have been very busy with the usual activity sessions and also tidying up a bit after the big camps. Jobs have included drying out tents, tidying up rubbish and fixing the odd piece of equipment (such as the BMX skills ramp, which sadly broke in two after being mistaken for a seesaw by some big heavy people).

Above : Making BMX seesaw version 2... longer, wider and much, much stronger.

There's also been a big effort made to tidy up much of the site, including the infamous tractor compound, which is home to a weird and wonderful collection of ancient machinery and strange wildlife. Taking advantage of the fantastic rates for scrap metal, the team have been scavenging for all the useless metal they can find and popping along to Inverkeithing to exchange it for something more useful.

Above : Fordell Olympic Team practice weightlifting for 2012.

The woodpile predictably took a bit of a battering during the two camps (the Firefighters using lots, even though they're supposed to put out fires!), so a donation of some scrap wood from a local business came at just the right time.

Above : A kind donation of scrap wood by a local company was gratefully received.

Above : Mystery photo competition - what's this?

Finally, we present the first in an occasional series of random competitions, the Mystery Photo. If you think you know what the strange photo above is or where it was taken, then simply write your answer on the back of a new £20 note and send it to the centre - the winner will be drawn from a hat and will receive a £5 voucher for the shop.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Festival camp

Above : Helping set up one of the marquees before the groups arrive.

Currently underway at Fordell this week is the Festival Camp, a joint Scout/guide activity event for approximately 650 participants (including staff). Hopefully we should have a good few photos from the midweek activities soon, but for now here's a quick look at what happened last weekend during the preparations.

Above : new stage looking good (complete with fancy lights inside)

The camp has scouts and guides from throughout the UK and Ireland, and a few international groups too (including the USA and Sweden) - much more information can be found on the official website (click link in the first paragraph), including photos of the previous camp in 2004.

Although the participants didn't arrive until sunday, a huge number of staff (service team) turned up a day ahead in order to set up a lot of the facilities. Approximately 300 staff were involved in this and most chose to arrive on the saturday morning.

The Fordell staff had also been very busy over the past few weeks getting ready for the camp too, for example coaxing the old toilet block into life (which hadn't been used since the last Festival camp...)

Above : At last, the TV reception problems in the staffhut were solved.

Since the last blog update there are a few obvious changes onsite - the biggest being the radio mast near the flagpole which has been erected for the local radio group (who are meeting on site regularly and providing activities for groups). A few more flagpoles have also miraculously grown, just in time for the extra flags which are needed for the Festival Camp.

Above : All the fun of the fair - Callum and Willie competing in the tentpeg-throwing competition

Saturday was fairly busy but with no shortage of staff from either side - the Fordell staff spent the day cleaning toilets. putting up a few marquees and generally moving things around with trailers. The Festival service team meanwhile were busy setting up the 10 subcamps which each included marquees, store tents, gateways/fences and sleeping tents.

By around 5pm most tasks were finished and it time to unwind for a while with a great barbeque provided by one of the Edinburgh Scout Fellowships. The food was great and although there was a huge queue to start with it moved quickly due to the impressively efficient serving team.

Above : Look who managed to sneak to the front of the queue :-)

Onto sunday and it was time for the scouts and guides to arrive on site. Everyone arrived by bus which made things easy - kids and bags being dropped off in the main carpark and the luggage moved to the subcamps by a big convoy of site vehicles and trailers. It was obvious that some of the kids had been given a bit of a hand to get their bags on to the bus at the other end as a few of them couldn't physically lift them :-)

A couple of hours later and everyone was settled in - and it was time for the first meal, a fire drill and the opening event.

Bob and co meanwhile spent a good while trying to work out how to run the big water pump which had been borrowed from the local fire service. The plan was to mount this on a trailer and use it to empty the huge plastic containers on each subcamp which were being used to store dirty water from dishes, etc. Previous experience had taught the staff that it wasn't a good idea to try to move such heavy containers with the tractor...

Above : Fordell Fire Brigade testing out pump.

Despite the best efforts of nine staff, the pump wouldn't work so a quick phone to the fire station resulted in a visit from a fire engine, control vehicle and several curious fireman who quickly showed us how it was supposed to work.

Next week of course, there's another similarly big event taking place - for young firefighters - so there shouldn't be any problem keeping the pump running then.

That's it for now, but all going well we should have a few more photos of the camp (which finishes saturday) soon.