Monday, October 31, 2011

Roped activity assessments

Last week it was once again time for Steve Spalding (who is the centre's external advisor for roped activities) to pop down so that the staff could have their annual assessment, and also to look at how the various activities have been running during the past 12 months. Steve came down for 2 days - friday for most of the full-time staff and then a sunday session for the volunteers.
Starting off at the climbing wall, he assessed everyone for their setup / belaying / group skills before going on to look at different ways in which we can teach participants to climb the various walls more efficiently.

Above : Climbing movement training (or hiding from Bob?)

After that it was onto the crate-climbing, abseiling and finally 3G swing - where we spent quite a while looking at ways in which the current setup and operating procedures could be modified to make the running of the sessions more efficient. Lee also kindly acted as a 'stuck/scared scout' so that we could be assessed on a few different procedures which are required to lower clients safely back down in the event that there is any problem with the release mechanism.

Above / below : Lee bravely acting as a pretend scout for the 3G swing.

Steve's back shortly for further assessments (zipline and jacob's ladder) and the centre also has our own annual GNAS archery and first aid courses coming up very soon in November and December respectively, so more reports on those soon.

Monday, September 05, 2011


Two weekends ago the centre was host to 'Acceler8', a Scottish Headquarters open day for Scout leaders/adult volunteers. The event aimed to bring together a huge number of different Scout support teams (including our Fordell staff), Scout campsites, outside charities and organisations and commercial exhibitors as well as provide partcipants with the chance to try out lots of the Fordell activities.

Above : Marketplace marquee (and band marquee at night)

The saturday morning saw us helping with car-parking and reception duties, before running most of the site activities all day long (as well as covering activities for Grangemouth High School too!!!). The morning started off with heavy rain, but this soon cleared with only a few abseiling sessions having to be cancelled. There were several hundred visitors to the event (as well as exhibitors) with a good number taking the chance to try out the activities. The 3G swing (Phoenix) seemed to be the most popular, and the screams of fear could be heard as far away as the main flagpole :-)

Above : Gang show members performing on the stage

Above : the very popular food area

Above/below : Skills zone in the wet weather hall

Above : Tiso's outdoor display (particularly popular as they were giving away free chicken tikka and chocolate pudding)

Above : Woodturning base

Around 80 of the visitors were staying at the centre on the saturday night, and there was a campfire followed by a live band in the main marquee later on. On the sunday morning the Fordell Active Support team were up bright and early to cook breakfast for most of those who stayed over and raise some funds for themselves in the process. On the menu were bacon and sausage rolls, with an optional extra of either chocolate crispy cakes or beefburgers (which had been kindly donated by a scout group who were leaving that morning). Sadly, there wasn't a great uptake of the beefburgers or crispy cakes, although a few of the diners did sample them.

Above : Breakfast in full flow on the sunday morning outside the staff hut.

Above : the only breakfast in Fife where chocolate crispy cakes are standard.

Above : A satisfied customer about to eat his 67th burger roll.

Above : Due to cutbacks, Pete and the radio club have had to move to a slightly smaller meeting hut.

Other news, and Bob's managed to source yet another Land Rover - this will replace one of the older ones which was getting a bit tired (it'll just be used on site to move trailers around, etc).

The KARS radio club kindly provided some fantastic graphics for it, some of which can be seen below...

Above : New Landrover already prepared for towing Stevie's car.

Above : Pol attempting to push the Landrover to Paris to raise funds for charity.

Comedy highlight of the weekend was when Pol (who's across from France for the summer to work) received his much-awaited staff top, only to discover that someone had accidentally (?) ordered the wrong size...

Above/below : A delighted Pol with his new baggy staff hoodie.

More news in a few weeks - that's us now into September but things are still looking busy at weekends with lots of groups in for camps/activities. Coming up later in the year we also have the usual GNAS archery training/assessment courses and our first aid course too.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring news

Above / below - inside the new classroom.

It's springtime again, and after a few quieter months the centre's busy again with lots of weekend camps, visitors and events.

Over the winter there's been lots of work taking place - the biggest change is that the new classroom building is (just about) finished; it's now fully furnished, electrically fitted out and has a fancy new 'smartboard' installed which will be available for use in training courses, seminars, etc. A new set of access stairs and ramp are currently under construction, and will probably be completed by the time this blog is published. Many thanks go to all the companies and individuals who helped install and fit out this new facility.

Above - Henry checking that no-one is making a mess in his new hut.

In the main camping area, there's now a new hut as well (up near the caves) - this is the marvelous one that Henry and his team built from scratch. Now most of the camping sites have their own hut which is great for groups to keep their equipment/food in and to have a (small...) base for during wet weather.

Last month saw a freakish snowstorm which started on a saturday morning and left the entire site covered. Unfortunately it occurred just before a charity event (GI Jane, for the Meningitis Research Foundation), but despite the freezing conditions the event went ahead and all the participants appeared to enjoy themselves. A few of the activities had to be cancelled due to the weather (eg zipline and abseiling), but most of them went ahead as you can see in the photos below...

Above : Staff just about to head out into the freak snowstorm.

Above : The army putting the GI Janes through a warmup routine.

Above : 81st Antarctic Cub Scout group camp.

Now that the ice has melted at Lochore Meadows, the Bell Boats have been taken back up and will be used by both Fordell visitors and local scout groups. Last weekend the centre ran another Bell Boat Helm course (thanks to Dave again) which was well attended by a mixture of Fordell staff and local scout leaders.

Above : Ali didn't even notice when the rest of the staff dismantled the staff hut and rebuilt it 20 feet away.

More updates soon, but just time for another fun and free competition. Just tell us whose mystery hands these are in the following photograph...

The winner will win a signed copy of Bob's new book ('The Donkey and the Well'), as well as a complimentary coffee next time they are at the centre.