Scout leader rallies power workers for campsite makeover
A story about a team of power workers who raised hundreds of pounds for a Sittingbourne Scout campsite and then set about doing a DIY-SOS style makeover using their skills.
A dedicated Scout leader pulled together a team of electricity workers for a makeover at a Sittingbourne Scout campsite.
UK Power Networks' engineer, Paul Austin, led improvements to Bexon Lane Scout Campsite with a team of power workers, after raising £800 from a sponsored walk with colleagues to buy equipment for the challenge.
His "DIY-SOS style" makeover team of electricity linesmen, substation fitters and project managers repaired a climbing wall roof damaged during winter storms, painted containers housing activity equipment, installed shed lighting, built a new base for a flagpole and painted gates and fences.
Paul has spent twenty years supporting the Scout movement in Kent during his free time, helping young people experience outdoor adventures, right on their local doorstep. He currently serves as a water sports' adventure leader in the county.
Paul said, "As the former district commissioner for this campsite I feel passionate about keeping this site in good condition, maintaining access to adventurous outdoors activities for young people right across the county. We rely on dedicated volunteers who do a brilliant job keeping the campsite in good condition for thousands of young visitors, and our volunteers needed our help. My colleagues have a broad variety of practical skills which I knew would make a big difference.
I'm so grateful for their hard work which will help many young people in Kent who enjoy using this special site. I'm proud of my colleagues who worked extremely hard. We achieved our goal to complete some major projects which will benefit Scouts visiting us from across the county." The 12-acre site offers outdoor activities for youngsters aged between four and 18, from traditional campfires and archery, to climbing, go-karting, and other activities.
The volunteers from UK Power Networks gave their free time through Donate a Day, a company initiative giving all staff two paid days per year to work on projects in their local community.
Angela Palmer, district commissioner for Sittingbourne, Milton and District Scouts, said, "We are extremely grateful for the work UK Power Networks has carried out. Without their help, we were unsure when we would be able to reopen the area to young people. The young people are now able to experience activities they would not be able to do if it was not for their help. We want to say a big thank you to the team."
Photo: "Be Prepared" to help. Volunteers from UK Power Networks spruce up Bexon Lane Scout Campsite in Sittingbourne through the electricity firm's volunteer scheme. The picture shows some of the team with the repaired climbing barn roof.
The Boy in the Tent
Max Woosey is The Boy in the Tent. He started camping out in March 2020 for a year to raise money for North Devon Hospice that looked after his friends Rick and Sue. As we go to press he's still going and is now over 600 nights! We caught up with Max recently and asked a few questions of this remarkable lad.
Why are you camping out?
I am camping because of my neighbour Rick who died of cancer. Before he died he gave me a tent and said "I want you to promise me you will have an adventure" and I said I promise that I will. When we went into the first lockdown in March 2020 I realised that many charities had had their fundraising cut. The North Devon Hospice took such good care of Rick and enabled him to die at home as he wished so I wanted to do something to say thank you. To be able to raise over £600,000 for them is just incredible because I set off to raise £100 but then it went to £600,000 (including Gift Aid).
What have been the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges have been the wildlife and the weather. Shortly after starting my camp out we had huge thunderstorms which were pretty scary. I was really proud of myself for staying out there. Then in winter we had temperatures of minus four and Storm Bella on Boxing Day with seventy mph winds. My dad slept out with me to weigh the tent down so I wouldn't blow away! The other challenge has been staying out there by myself. Some nights I have had nightmares or been scared so I just talk to myself and imagine what my parents would say. I think I have grown in confidence a lot over the last year and am now far more independent.
Why did you do Max's Big Camp Out, when, to mark one year of your epic challenge, you invited children across the world to join in with their own camp?
I did Max's Big Camp Out because lockdown sucked so I thought it would be fun for other kids to join in. It was a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and do it their way. They could camp out or make a den inside and raise money for their chosen charity. It was really important that children got to choose how they did it and who they raised money for as we are usually told what to do and how to do it. It was the first time JustGiving have created a page like that specifically for children and I'm really proud of it. It was brilliant for hundreds of children to all look back and be proud of what they achieved.
How has being a scout helped you?
Being a scout has helped me with everything in life, it definitely has been something I have enjoyed. It has shown me the importance of team work and also that being kind and helping others is the way I want to live my life. My dad has always taught me KIT - Kindness, Integrity and Try hard and I feel these are in line with the philosophy of the scouts.
What have been the highlights of camping out?
The main highlight of camping out has been the knowledge that I have raised such a lot of money for the North Devon Hospice. It is the only hospice in the South West that has not had to make bed cuts or redundancies during the pandemic.
I have also been really touched by the kindness and support of so many people. An eighty-year-old lady sent me her birthday money to add to my fundraising page. She didn't have my address so addressed it to "Max, The Boy in the Tent, Braunton, Devon" and it reached my house. I was so touched.
I have also been really lucky and got the opportunity to work with Action for Children which is an amazing charity which supports vulnerable children.
Tell us about the zoo
As part of my role with Action for Children I got to promote their Boycott Your Bed campaign by sleeping at London Zoo.
The Zoo was brilliant; everyone there is just so friendly and I will never forget the time I had there. We had a night tour where we got to see all the animals and got to feed them. It's a kid's dream to be able to camp at a zoo and to be able to be a mini zookeeper for the two days we were there is just incredible. The highlight was giving the lemurs their breakfast as they are my favourite animal. I lay in my tent listening to the lions roar and could hear the gibbons. It was really special.
What about meeting the Prime Minister - Boris Johnson?
I was also lucky enough to meet Boris Johnson. I can now say I spoke to the Prime Minister and got to pitch my tent in the garden of 10 Downing Street! Just amazing! He was lovely; we sat outside my tent and had a chat over a hot chocolate. His dog Dilyn was really funny as he stole my lion teddy and I had to run around the garden after him to get it back.
We also got a tour of 10 Downing Street which was brilliant. Just to be in the Cabinet Office where such important decisions have been made was mind boggling.
How long are you going to camp out for?
I will keep camping out until I stop enjoying it. It was good at first because lockdown spending 24/7 with your parents is a nightmare so to just be able to get a bit of freedom was great. We aren't officially in lockdown now so I have at least been able to go out to school and see my friends again. However, two days ago I tested positive for Covid so we are back in lockdown for ten days. Luckily I'm feeling ok but this was my last week of primary school so I have missed all of the end of term celebrations. It's not quite the ending I had hoped for but I feel lucky that I haven't been ill with it.
What would you like to do for your next adventure?
I have saved my pocket money so that when I am older I hope to go on a great adventure. I would love to go to Australia or Madagascar for a real expedition that takes me further than my back garden.
I feel really lucky that for me the past year with Covid and lockdowns has been a real adventure. I know many others haven't been as lucky and I send my best wishes to anyone who has had a tough time.
Bear Grylls writes: Was so special to be able to give young Max Woosey, the "Spirit of Adventure Award" at The [Daily Mirror] Pride of Britain Awards Ceremony [on 30th October]. Max was given a tent by his terminally ill neighbour and hoped to camp out for a few nights to raise a few hundred pounds. How proud his neighbour would now be to see that, in fact, Max has gone on to spend five hundred and seventy consecutive nights in his tent, raising over £600,000 for charity. Legacy kindness. And a never give up spirit. And no surprise to see a Royal Marines family beside him, always supporting and encouraging. Heroes one and all. Well done Max!
You can sponsor Max at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/max-woosey1
We will always be prepared
During the 1990s my late wife Fiona was Akela for the 1st Huntspill and Highbridge scout troop, based in Highbridge Somerset. They needed some funds for a roof repair and she asked me, as a professional musician, to record some Scout songs to sell to raise funds.
I decided to go one better and write a song about the Scouts. I decided we needed to incorporate the Scouts in the recording; a quick show of hands for volunteers and we had our 'choir' of twelve.
I had them sing the chorus, which was both practical and achievable.
I had prepared twelve rehearsal copies of the song with lyric sheets for the cubs to do their homework ahead of the recording date. We also had a couple of rehearsals at the scout hut on scout night ahead of the day.
Fiona and I hired the White House recording studio in Weston Super Mare at our own expense and we took our group of twelve young cub scouts to the studio. (Parents were in attendance also).
As a post script to this story I decided to enter the song in the UK Songwriting Contest where I had been submitting my work over two previous years.
In 2020 they had introduced a new category - Crisis Songs.
It occurred to me that my lyrics for the scout song 'We Will Always Be Prepared' would be entirely appropriate for the category.
We didn't win the competition but we did achieve semi final position - not bad for the young cub scouts who gave up their free time and energy. A fitting reward for their endeavour.
Photo: Terry, with his son Alex - a former cub scout, addressing a scout meeting in Fresno, California promoting the song. They were holidaying with friends, circa 1996
(WE WILL ALWAYS) BE PREPARED
Words and music by TERRY PASCOE © 1994
SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD TONIGHT A VOICE IS CALLING
OPEN UP YOUR HEARTS AND HEAR
WAY ABOVE THE ROOFTOPS WHERE THE SNOW STARTS FALLING
CHILDREN'S VOICES LOUD AND CLEAR
WE WILL FACE THE DARKEST NIGHT
HAND IN HAND WE LEARN TO SHARE
WE ARE GUIDED BY THE LIGHT WE SEE
WE WILL ALWAYS BE PREPARED
CHILDREN OF THE WORLD UNITE FOR THOSE IN SHELTER
LEADING LIVES THROUGH CONSTANT STORMS
WE WILL PRAY FOR GUIDANCE FROM THE GREATEST HELPER
SHOW YOUR SUNSHINE KEEP THEM WARM
WE WILL FACE THE DARKEST NIGHT
HAND IN HAND WE LEARN TO SHARE
WE ARE GUIDED BY THE LIGHT WE SEE
WE WILL ALWAYS BE PREPARED
Superstar Scout DJ has been busy entertaining the young people of Norfolk
2020, a year that we will all remember and year that a majority of us will wish to forget! On 23rd March 2020 the Prime Minister announced a UK-wide lockdown. The announcement came several days after restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms and leisure centres were told to shut their doors to customers. This was shortly followed by libraries, schools, playgrounds, sports clubs, youth associations and places of worship that were also forced to close. It was the time that our young people engaged in home learning and school lessons online. These were very strange times for a majority of people in the UK.
Liam Osler who is eleven and a half and a Scout at 2nd Runcton Holme and Watlington Scout Group had been looking forward to taking part in lots of planned outdoor activities. Events such as night hikes, summer camps, survival camps, water-based activity weekends, shooting and lots, lots more. As Scouts they are encouraged to master new skills and try new things, make new friends with other young people and other Scout groups, have fun and go on adventures, at home and abroad, explore the world around them and to help others and make a difference in their own communities and beyond. We had also planned fundraising events such as a litter-picking weekend in the villages of Runcton Holme and Watlington, and helping out and entertaining the residents and staff at Diamond House Care Home, our adopted care home in Downham Market. However everything was put on pause!
That was until the Scouts held online meetings and carried on learning new skills and taking part in activities via the internet. Liam managed and has been awarded the following Scout activity badges during lockdown: Personal Challenge Award, Fire Safety, Local Knowledge, Meteorologist, Hikes and Navigator as well as taking part in Crafting, Emergency First Aid, Cookery, Knife Safety, Writing, Air Activities and Orienteering to name a few. Liam has also been busy learning to play the guitar and was awarded a Blue Peter Music Badge for his efforts.
Lockdown also threatened to stop Watlington Community Primary School's end of year, Year 6 school leavers' disco from happening. Liam was one of those young people who was looking forward to attending the disco. Liam (aka DJ L.I.AM) with some help from his father, Chris Osler, had other plans. On Friday 17th July, DJ L.IAM hosted the King's Lynn Primary Schools' Virtual End of Year and Year 6 Leavers' Disco. Over 1,400 young people logged in and attended this event! Following this event Liam was asked by Darren Fryer from Inspiration Sound and Lighting to do a demonstration on the Denon DJ equipment. Darren must have been impressed because he then recommended Liam to attend a DJ session at Fenland Youth Radio. Liam was invited back to the official launch of Fenland Youth Radio. He even got to meet George Elliott who was a finalist on The Voice Kids UK. Liam now has a regular Friday evening session from 6pm to 8pm. This has helped Liam to be awarded his Scout Entertainer badge. Not content with entertaining us with his amazing DJ skills, Liam has been learning to play the guitar. In June last year we shared the Blue Peter badge scheme on our Scout Group Facebook page, his parents applied to Blue Peter, and I am proud to announce that Liam has been awarded his Blue Peter music badge (designed by Ed Sheeran). Liam took part in an online carol service with the residents and staff of Diamond House Care Home just before Christmas, an event that we would have attended in person.
With fundraising events placed on hold DJ L.I.AM, again with some help from his father, decided to host a New Year’s Eve online disco as a fundraising event for the Scouts. We set a target of £300 and asked if friends and families would like to make a small donation. We very quickly smashed the £300 target and managed a grand total of £650 towards 2nd Runcton Holme and Watlington Scout Group. We also thanked those that made donations by holding an online grand prize draw. The evening was a great success and has helped Liam and his father to earn their Scout Fundraising badge. Liam’s parents also recently applied to Blue Peter for his fundraising and online DJ activities and he has now been awarded his blue Blue Peter badge.
Well done Liam, you are an inspiration to all young people. You have studied, learnt new skills, worked tirelessly and helped other people during some difficult times. Keep up the great work young man. I am very proud to be your Scout Leader.
"What we need is a great, new idea"
As sure as winter follows autumn, sooner or later the ugly face of fundraising will rear its ugly head for you. It's not ugly to have a desire to raise funds for a cause, it's more the feeling that one is going to have to do something that maybe doesn't particularly appeal, to get people to give for something that they don't particularly want and so give with a heavy heart. It's so depressing sometimes! No one wants to have to organise another cookie bake with parents moaning that the ingredients cost as much as they're probably going to make in sales so, "Can't I just give you twenty pounds and be done with it?" Or little Johnnie walking up and down his road with a bag of double chocolate choc chip cookies that are basically chocolate bars that have been melted, fashioned into a circle and sprinkled with baked rolled oats wondering why no one is buying. Nothing to do with the fact that he's been licking them or trying to charge a fiver for one. Then again, we know of a neighbour handing over a ten pound note not to have to take any cookies. At least she was never poisoned.
Our four fundraising rules for products are:
They must be
sufficiently unusual for customers not to think or say, "Oh no, not another tea towel / mug / cookie bake."
relatively easy to execute.
marketable, so no corn dollies.
A trip in the summer down to Rochester gave us an idea. Rochester, by the way, is a great place for a day out. There a cathedral, a castle, a river, a museum and a poor house to name but five, all situated along or near a pedestrianised high street. We popped into an art shop to buy a birthday card and came out with a blank greetings card with an A to Z of Medway on the front. Each letter was depicted by a drawing of a local person or place. There was a bit of artistic licence with X marks the spot but fortunately for Medway fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes, was born locally. "We could do this," we thought. And we did, once we looked at our four rules which the cards more than met.
Blank greetings cards of this type are a great fundraiser. As they are hand drawn they are certainly sufficiently unusual. They are relative easy to produce and they are extremely marketable. Not only do they have local interest but they can be used as thank you cards, birthday cards or simply how are you cards. They don't cost much to make and can be sold with a huge mark up, in our case over one thousand per cent. We set to work drawing mostly people or places that were connected to our local area. We scanned the pictures into a computer, designed the cover, printed them and sold them locally. Everyone wants a piece of local memorabilia so they soon all went! Here's how to do it:
1. Research people, buildings, places. You're looking for twenty-six items - an A to Z. This will leave two boxes. One at the beginning for "An A to Z of [place]" and one at the end for "By [name of group etc.]". "X marks the spot" is a good fallback for X. For Z you could always put in "Zzzz - sleep well in [place]" or "zebra crossing" or maybe take liberties (as you can with every letter, it's that that makes this fun and original), so how about, "AmaZing [place!]"? Start with the most obvious contenders. These will be famous people, alive or dead, and local landmarks, pubs and churches are a good bet, then move to lesser subjects. Start in your village or town and move slowly out in ever-increasing circles.
2. Draw them. If you're doing this with your young people give them a letter each. Start with an HB pencil then go over with a good quality, black ink. We used a Rotring Tikky Graphic 0.5 Fineliner. Fill in some of your drawing with black using a thicker nib, something like a Stabilo Pen 68. This will give great contrast to the drawings. Look at Florence Nightingale in the Medway drawing for a good example. Then rub out the pencil drawing. One of the delights of this activity is that you don't have to be brilliant at drawing as each design is going to be reduced in size, this will hide most imperfections! Use a piece of good quality white paper that measures approximately 10cms wide by 12cms long for each drawing. The Medway design includes the alphabet, the Chislehurst one doesn't.
3. Colour them. The Medway design is just black and white but with the Chislehurst one we included colour sparingly - it made no difference to the price. As with the black fill in with small blocks of bold colour, again using Stabilo Pen 68 or similar.
4. Scan them into a computer. For a drawing with colour other than black, scan as a picture with 300 ppi. For a black and white drawing scan in Gray Scale, again with 300 ppi, then adjust each black and white drawing to give minimum light and maximum colour and clarity, then save. It may be necessary to erase electronically any superfluous marks that have crept in.
5. Open an A5 page in, say, Microsoft Word. Set the left and right margins at 3mm and the top and bottom at 4mm. (Depending on the printer that you use it may be necessary to use one half of an A4 page.)
6. Import each drawing and resize to 2.9cms x 3.5cms.
7. On the back of each card we included an A to Z description of each drawing.
8. Send it off to the printers. Companies that we can recommend include Solopress in Southend-on-Sea and Tradeprint in Dundee. Both of these companies will include envelopes. If you order 1,000 cards they will cost between about 9p and 15p to print plus VAT.
9. When your cards arrive put them in individual cellophane bags that can hold an A5 card and C5 envelope. These will cost a couple of pence each.
10. Start selling! Give them to your young people to sell or with a quality product ask local shops and tourist attractions (especially if they're featured!) if they would stock them. There is VAT involved with cards so bear this in mind when setting your prices but we sell to shops at 82.5p plus VAT each and direct to consumers at £2.49 so there is a good amount of profit to be had for this project.
If you have a fundraising idea, let us know! firstname.lastname@example.org
Collecting used stamps
However, if you don't fancy producing your own greetings cards there is an easier way - collecting used stamps. Last year a couple were convicted of buying around 700,000 used stamps and washing them before selling them as new stamps. We're not suggesting that you embark on a criminal enterprise but collecting used stamps is perfectly acceptable. They are mostly bought by dealers who will sift through them looking for stamps of value or use them for making up packs for collectors. The rest can be used for arts and crafts. Expect to receive around ten pounds for a kilo.
Letter to the Editor
Dear Scout and Scouting
Last year 1st Bramshill Rotherwick, beavers, cubs and scouts were collecting used stamps for The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. The total weight was 10.4kg and was collected by their team. They are a charity and can use the stamps to raise much needed funds. Unfortunately we couldn’t get all the group together for a photo due to Covid and time constraints. This is Evan, one of our cubs. Dan Pearce, Skip at 1st Bramshill Rotherwick
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