Scout Adventures (The Scout Association)

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Scout Adventures
The logo of Scout Adventures in red. It is based on the Scouts fleur-de-lis symbol.
Scout Adventures logo, based upon the logo for The Scout Association.
Centres
FormerlyScout Activity Centres
HeadquartersGilwell Park, Chingford, London.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Founded2016 (2016)
HeadAsa Gurden[1]
AffiliationThe Scout Association
Website
scoutadventures.org.uk
 Scouting portal

Scout Adventures are a network of activity centres run by The Scout Association. They offer outdoor facilities, adventurous activities and experiences for members of the Scout Association, other youth organisations and school groups. The centres typically have capacity for hundreds of Scouts simultaneously, often including indoor accommodation in addition to camping. Staffed by qualified instructors, they offer adventurous activities and training for adult volunteers and young people following the badges of the Scout programme.[2]

Purpose[edit]

Scout Adventures exists to deliver outdoor learning, adventurous activities and residential experiences to members of the Scout Association, other youth groups such as members of Girlguiding, and school groups. They are a commercial division of the Scouts and any profits made supplement the income of the association. They follow the Scout method when delivering activities, with principles such as learning through doing a key tenet of their approach to outdoor learning.[3]

History[edit]

National campsites pre-2005[edit]

During Scouting's early history the need for camp sites and activity centres to train young people and undertake Scout activities and practice Scout skills has been evident.[4] By 2004, over 700 sites were owned, run or had connections to Scout groups, districts or counties/areas with The Scout Association owning 14 sites outright.[5] These were:

Scout owned campsites prior to 2004.
Site Location Details
Broadstone Warren East Sussex Owned by the Scout Association, leased to East Sussex Scout County.[6][7]
Bradley Wood West Yorkshire Owned by the Scout Association, leased to West Yorkshire Scout County. Acquired in 1942.[8]
Chalfont Heights Buckinghamshire Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Greater London Middlesex West Scout County. Acquired in 1938.[9]
Downe Orpington, Greater London Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Greater London South East Scout County. Acquired in 1929 and opened in 1933.[10]
Earleywood Berkshire Owned by the Scout Association, leased to South Berkshire and South East Berkshire Scout Districts.[11]
Frylands Wood Croydon, Greater London Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Lewisham Manor Scout District.[12][13][14]
Gilwell Park Chingford, Greater London Owned and operated by the Scout Association.[5] Acquired 1919.[15]
Great Tower Lake District Owned by the Scout Association, leased to West Lancashire Scout County.[16] Acquired in 1936.[17]
Hawkhirst Northumberland Operated by the Scout Association, leased from Forestry Commission.[18]
Kingsdown Kent Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Oxfordshire Scout County.[19]
Longridge Buckinghamshire Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Scout Counties. Specialist boating centre, for water activities and based on the River Thames.[20]
Phasels Wood Hertfordshire Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Hertfordshire Scout County.[21]
Perry Wood Surrey Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Horley Scout District.[22]
Tolmers Hertfordshire Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Hertfordshire Scout County.[21]
Walton Firs Surrey Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Surrey Scouts. Acquired in 1939.[23]
Youlbury Oxfordshire Owned by the Scout Association, leased to Oxfordshire Scout County.[24]

In February 2004, the Scout Association took the decision to sell a number of these campsites and instead focus their efforts on four national centres of excellence.[25][5] It was noted that while there were many great camping sites, the range of adventurous activities on offer at each varied and so these four centres would be developed into high quality activity centres, run by the Scout Association directly.

The sites no longer owned by the association were sold with the proceeds being used to form the National Campsite Fund, which funds the improvement of the four new centres of excellence and any new sites that may join them at a later date. The last of this fund was used in the 2014–15 financial year.[26] The majority of the sites that existed were sold to the local scout counties or districts that had been running them up until that point. The exceptions to this were Kingsdown International Scout Campsite, which was sold in 2005 to a private group which retains discounts for visiting Scout groups,[27] Longridge Scout Boating Centre, which was sold to user group The Friends of Longridge Trust before becoming The Adventure Learning Charity in 2014,[28][29][30] Perry Wood International Scout Campsite, which was not taken on by the local district and closed wth the site redeveloped for housing in 2013[31][32] and Walton Firs Campsite, which was sold in 2008 to the Walton Firs Foundation who continue to run the site as an activity centre for youth groups maintaining strong links with the Scouts.[23][33]

Scout Activity Centres[edit]

Each new National Scout Activity Centre had a symbol to represent the site. Gilwell Park's was based on a log and axe, seen here on the Leopard gates, adopted from safety advice given to new leaders during training courses.

In 2005, the Scout Association launched four enhanced Scout Activity Centres that offered residentials, camping and high quality activities on offer to members. The four initially chosen at the announcement of the plan in February 2004 were Downe Scout Activity Centre, for the Southern Home counties, Gilwell Park, recognised as headquarters of the association and spiritual home of Scouting, Youlbury Scout Activity Centre, for the Northern Home counties, and Great Tower for the North of England. However, when the Scout Activity Centres launched in 2005, Great Tower was not among them and a new centre for the North, Hawkhirst Scout Activity Centre, was launched c. February 2007.[34] Despite not having any on-site activities, the central London Baden-Powell House was also listed as a Scout Activity Centre alongside the others from the launch until 2011.

Towards the end of the decade, the Scout Association began to expand the number of Scout Activity Centres that met the standard of the centres of excellence. The first of these was Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre in the New Forest, becoming a partner centre on the 1 September 2009.[35] This allowed the site to benefit from joint training, marketing and common strategy but continued throughout to be owned by Hampshire Scouts and run by Hampshire Scouts staff.[35][36] The expansion also triggered a refresh of the Scout Activity Centre brand, moving from clean and fresh typography and a local square icon to a more rugged and dirty typography that emphasises mud and the outdoors along with the localised icon.[37] Two more sites, Great Tower Scout Activity Centre in the Lake District and Woodhouse Park Scout Activity Centre near the mouth of the River Severn became national centres on 1 April 2011[38] and a further two, Crawfordsburn Scout Activity Centre in County Down, Northern Ireland and Yr Hafod Scout Activity Centre in Snowdonia, Wales, joined on 6 September 2012.[39]

Scout Adventures[edit]

In September 2016, the nine sites re-branded to Scout Adventures with a logo that uses the scout fleur-de-lis symbol significantly in line with the main Scout Association brand at that time. The name change was reported to better reflect what the organisation did and its focus.[40] At this time Ferny Crofts withdrew from the Scout Adventures partnership, choosing to continue under their own direction and remain a successful activity centre run by Hampshire Scouts.

The most recent expansion occurred in 2017 with the addition of four centres. In July, Buddens Scout Adventure Centre in Dorset became part of the grouping, remaining owned and operated by Dorset Scouts, but opening up Scout Adventures to the West Country for the first time.[41][42][43] Then on 1 September, the three National Activity Centres run by Scouts Scotland joined the Scout Adventures network: Fordell Firs Scout Adventure Centre in Fife, Lochgoilhead Scout Adventures Centre on Loch Lomond and Meggernie Scout Adventures Centre in Perthshire.[1][44] These three, similar to the other recent partnership centres, continue to be owned and run by Scouts Scotland.[45][44] The visual identity was updated from 2018 to the current logo using many of the same principles of the previous look but applied the Scout Association's new simplified fleur-de-lis and typeface.

The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, affected the Scout Adventures centres significantly with all having to close and cancel planned activities and bookings while still incurring costs.[46] In August, the chief executive of Scouts Scotland spoke out about the real threat of closure affecting their three activity centres, Fordell Firs, Meggernie and Lochgoilhead Scout Adventures centres and called upon the Scottish Government to provide additional support to the sector.[47] In October the Scout Association announced that they would be reducing the number of adventure centres following the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic as a result of the need to reduce staffing costs and assets.[48] While the centres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were unaffected by the announcement, the seven sites in England would be reduced in number to four with Buddens and Woodhouse Park being returned to the counties that own them (Dorset Scouts and Avon Scouts respectively) and Downe being sold entirely.[48] Furthermore, the association announced they would also sell Baden-Powell House in central London, the former headquarters of the association and hostel.[48] The sales were to enable the depleted cash reserves to be replenished and to allow for local groups badly affected by the pandemic to be helped.[48] While the timeline has not been revealed, the association did acknowledge it would take time for the sales and return of centres to be realised.[48] When considering the sites for closure they took into consideration factors including local provision, such as whether other activity centres owned by Scouts are available nearby, and the needs of the site, such as whether investment was required or how the site was used.[49] Subsequently, Downe and Woodhouse Park closed as Scout Adventures sites in 2021 with Downe set to be sold and Woodhouse Park returning to be run by Avon Scout County directly.[50][51]

Current sites[edit]

Buddens[edit]

Camping fields at Buddens.

Buddens Scout Adventures is the newest English centre to be added to the Scout Adventures network, being added in 2017.[42] Located near Wareham, Dorset, it is located close to the Isle of Purbeck, Brownsea Island and Durdle Door. It is owned by and run in partnership with Dorset Scouts who also use the centre as their headquarters.[43] The 95-acre site was bought in 1994 as a former farm and quarry site.[52] It has since been developed as a camp site and activity centre with 15 acres set aside as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.[53]

The site contains a number of very large camping fields, a 45-bed tented village, a three level tunnelling complex,[54] an 8.5-acre lake which is used for a variety of water activities[55] and a new climbing tower.[43] As part of the partnership, activities are being added on a regular basis.

Crawfordsburn[edit]

The bay of the adjacent County Park.

Crawfordsburn Scout Adventures is the only centre in Northern Ireland, located adjacent to Crawfordsburn County Park and within 3 miles of Bangor and 10 miles of Belfast.[56] It has 22 acres of camping and two residential buildings, with a combined 70 beds, which was expanded recently; the most recent was opened in October 2016 by Northern Irish Minister for Education Peter Weir.[57] Originally part of the Sharman estate, it was opened in October 1948 and received a visit from Lord Rowallan, the Chief Scout, a decade later in 1958.[58] It joined the network of national centres as a partner centre on 6 September 2012 as Crawfordsburn Scout Activity Centre[39] before being rebranded to Crawfordsburn Scout Adventures in September 2016. Its facilities include a caving complex, climbing wall, adventure course and trail, 3G swing, zip line and crate climb.[58][59]

Fordell Firs[edit]

Woodland around Fordell Firs.

Fordell Firs Scout Adventures is a 48-acre site near Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.[60] Along with the other two Scottish centres, it is the most recent addition to the Scout Adventures grouping having joined on 1 September 2017.[1][44] The centre is owned and run by Scouts Scotland as one of their National Activity Centres and is also the location of the charity's headquarters.[61][45]

The site has two accommodation buildings on site: the single storey Garth Morrison Lodge and the two storey Henderson building with 67 beds together.[60] It is bolstered with a tented village that sleeps 64 and an activity hall for groups on site.[60]

Activities on site include climbing, caving, 3G swing, tree climbing, zip line and archery as well as a number of other traditional Scouting and outdoor activities. They also offer bell boating on nearby Loch Ore.[62][63]

Gilwell Park[edit]

The White House at Gilwell Park.
A Scout camp at Gilwell Park

Gilwell Park is a 109-acre estate on the outskirts of Chingford, Greater London. It is notable as a national and international leader training centre as the original leader training and the famous wood badge recognition both originated from Gilwell Park.[64] It is consequently one of the landmarks of the world Scouting movement and international attendance at training and events for leaders is not uncommon.[64][65]

It was acquired for the Scout Association in 1919 and has since been expanded a number of times with land surrounding it being bought up in the time since.[66] At the cultural centre of the site is the White House, an 18th-century mansion house that has been converted into a hotel, event and conference centre.[66] The nearby Gilwell House, opened in 2001, is the headquarters of the Scout Association.[67]

The adventurous activities and camping operations of the site were grouped and branded as Gilwell Park Scout Activity Centre when launched in 2005. Its logo from these years was based on an axe buried into a log in a rounded lime green square with black border: the axe and log is a long-standing symbol of Gilwell Park and relates to safety advice given during the early leader training courses.[68][69] The name was updated to Gilwell Park Scout Adventures in September 2016 at the annual Gilwell Reunion event, although the symbol of the axe and log remains as a symbol of the site as a whole.

The site contains a number of camping fields suited to different purposes, four indoor accommodation blocks, a tented village and two patrol cabins leaving a combined total of 264 beds (excluding those in the White House which are not administered by Scout Adventures).[70] The site has a number of amenities including shop, cafe, places of worship for a number of different faiths and various articles of Scouting history located throughout the site.[70] Activities offered include indoor and outdoor climbing and high ropes, low ropes, 3G swing, zip line, water based activities on the 'Bomb hole' pond, target activities, bouldering, trails and crate stacking.[71]

Great Tower[edit]

Lake Windermere, which Great Tower is located near to.

Great Tower Scout Adventures is located near the Eastern shore of Lake Windermere in the Lake District National Park. The 250 acres (1.0 km2) site[72] is mostly covered in thick woodland and rocky landscapes. It was acquired by the Scout Association in 1936 but until recently was leased out to West Lancashire Scouts.[16] It was originally announced in February 2004 as the soon to be national centre of excellence for the North of England but this came to nothing.[5] The centre eventually joined the national grouping on 1 April 2011, becoming Great Tower Scout Activity Centre with a logo of a silhouette stone tower against a yellow square with rounded corners and black outline.[68][38] It was renamed to its present name in September 2016.

The site has five lodges for indoor accommodation and a tented village with a total of 150 beds in addition to pitches for camping located across the site in a variety of different locations including field, woodland and hill top.[73] Activities on offer include high ropes, low ropes, target activities, raft building, tree climbing and crag climbing.[74]

Hawkhirst[edit]

The jetty at Hawkhirst Scout Adventures for Kielder Water.

Hawkhirst Scout Adventures is located on the shore of Kielder Water in Kielder Forest in Northumberland.[75] The site spans 70 acres and has been operated directly by the Scout Association since its open.[5] Having launched as Hawkhirst Adventure Camp, it joined the wider national network as a centre of excellence for the North of England in 2007 as Hawkhirst Scout Activity Centre.[34] Its initial logo was of three silhouette trees, similar to the conifers planted as part of Kielder Forest, on an orange rounded square with black outline.[68] It became Hawkhirst Scout Adventures in September 2016.

The site has three lodges for indoor accommodation and a tented village of nine bell tents with a combined total of 137 beds.[76] Activities include a climbing wall, adventure courses, target activities and a wide range of water activities utilising Kielder Water.[75]

Lochgoilhead[edit]

The landscape around Lochgoilhead. The centre is just below the ridge in this picture, out of sight.

Lochgoilhead Scout Adventures is a in Lochgoilhead at the Northern end of Loch Goil within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland.[77] Along with the other two Scottish centres, it is the most recent addition to the Scout Adventures grouping having joined on 1 September 2017.[1][44] The centre is owned and run by Scouts Scotland as one of their National Activity Centres since 1965.[45][78]

The site is unusual for a Scout Adventures site in that it has a sizeable area of grounds which is utilised for adventurous activities but is not available for camping. Instead it has an extensive indoor accommodation layout with one long dormitory building divided into four self contained blocks that sleep a total of 92 beds and three lodges with a total of 44 beds all served by dining room and three classrooms.[79]

Activities on site are extensive and include climbing, abseiling, crate stacking, high ropes, ghyll scrambling, archery and mountain biking in addition to traditional outdoor and Scouting skills such as fire lighting and navigation. A significant draw for the centre however is the wide range of boating activities on Loch Goil which include canoeing, kayaking, bell-boating, sailing and power boating.[80][81]

Meggernie[edit]

Meggernie Scout Adventures.

Meggernie Scout Adventures is a 15-acre site in Glen Lyon, Perthshire in the Scottish Highlands.[82] Along with the other two Scottish centres, it is the most recent addition to the Scout Adventures grouping having joined on 1 September 2017.[1][44] The centre is owned and run by Scouts Scotland as one of their National Activity Centres.[45] It is bordered by the River Lyon on site and is tailored towards a wilderness experience with water coming from a bore hole and sterilised rather than from the mains.[82]

The site has indoor accommodation in the site farmhouse which can sleep 30 as well as outdoor camping locations. This includes an area for sleeping in hammocks and a wooden bivouac shelter which can sleep five and is open to the air allowing guests to sleep under the stars. There is also a great hall which can be used for indoor activities.[82]

Activities on site are tailored towards survival skills and environmental studies and fit into the remote nature of the highlands.[83] Adventurous activities include a tyrolean crossing of the river, bouldering, grass sledging and archery whereas activities such as pioneering and backwoods cooking rely more on traditional and survival skills. Environmental activities on the site include star gazing, pond dipping, bat detecting and walks thatget participants to rely on their senses.[84][85]

Youlbury[edit]

One of the site entrances to Youlbury. The sign shows the old logo of Youlbury Scout Activity Centre.

Youlbury Scout Adventures is located in Oxfordshire, a few miles South West from central Oxford. It is owned by the Scout Association and is one of the oldest Scout Campsites in the world, having been opened in 1913 and even serving as the headquarters of the Scout Association for a time during the Second World War.[86] Since 2005 it has been run directly by the Scout Association as Youlbury Scout Activity Centre, having been run by Oxfordshire Scouts[24] before being announced as one of the original national centres of excellence in 2004 as the designated centre for the Northern Home counties.[5] The initial logo of Downe Scout Activity Centre showed the silhouette of a boar in a sky blue box with rounded corners and black edge in reference to the site's location on Boar's Hill.[68] It was renamed to Youlbury Scout Adventures in September 2016 in line with the other sites.

The site has three indoor accommodation blocks and two tented villages providing a combination of 204 beds as well as two indoor classroom blocks.[87] Activities offered at the site include climbing, abseiling, high ropes, go-karts, crate stacking, bouldering, 3G swing, target activities (archery, rifle shooting and tomahawk throwing) and various trails.[88]

Yr Hafod[edit]

The pass with Yr Hafod shown in the middle distance.

Yr Hafod Scout Adventures is located in Nant Ffrancon Pass, Snowdonia, North Wales. Opened in 1959 by Bill Tilman, it is owned by Scouts Cymru as their Mountaineering Training Centre. It joined the national grouping of activity sites on 6 September 2012 as Yr Hafod Scout Activity Centre[39] with a logo featuring a mountain outlined in a dark green square with rounded corners and black outline.[68] It renamed as Yr Hafod Scout Adventures in September 2016 along with the other national centres.

Yr Hafod, Welsh for Summer house, is unlike other Scout Adventures sites; it is a single 32 bed lodge, not a larger site, and represents the only accommodation with no camping option available.[89][90] It offers crag climbing, hill walking and hiking in the surrounding mountains[91] and runs a significant number of mountaineering training courses each year.[92] It is also a base for expeditions, particularly for parties undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh's Award.[93]

Former sites[edit]

Downe[edit]

Historic cottages near the site. The entrance road can be seen on the left signposted.

Downe Scout Adventures was located near Orpington near the boundary between Greater London and Kent and near to Biggin Hill and Down House, the home of naturalist Charles Darwin. It was owned by the Scout Association and was one of the original national Scout Activity Centres following the centres of excellence programme announced in 2004.[5] Between 2005 and 2021, it was run directly by the Scout Association, having been run by Greater London South East Scouts since 1987.[10] The initial logo of Downe Scout Activity Centre showed the silhouette of a pheasant in a scarlet box with rounded corners and black edge in reference to some of the wildlife found on site.[68][94] It was renamed to Downe Scout Adventures in September 2016 in line with the other sites.

The site had three lodges for indoor accommodation and two tented villages with a combined bed total of 206 in addition to a number of fields of various sides and a large section of woodland.[95] It offers a range of activities including climbing, high ropes, trails and courses, zip line and target activities.[96]

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, affected the site badly and in October 2020 the Scout Association announced that Downe was being closed and sold off with the site closing entirely in January 2021.[48][50][51]

Ferny Crofts[edit]

The entrance to Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre, which was partnered between 2009 and 2016. The sign from its time as a national centre can be seen on the left.

Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre is sited in the New Forest National Park in Hampshire. The site had been in use as a training and activity centre owned by Hampshire Scouts since 1975[97] before becoming the first partner Scout Activity Centre on the 1 September 2009.[35] This allowed the site to benefit from joint training, marketing and common strategy but continued throughout to be owned by Hampshire Scouts and run by Hampshire Scouts staff.[35][98] They withdrew from the partnership in 2016 as the group rebranded into Scout Adventures and the site remains a Scout Activity Centre run by Hampshire Scouts.[99]

The site contains a sizable camping field and a number of other wooded camping sites and at the time of being a national centre had three accommodation units. As well as advertising off-site activities including the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu and Brownsea Island, the site hosted high ropes, archery, an adventure course, two climbing towers, rifle shooting, tomahawk throwing and raft building.[100]

Woodhouse Park[edit]

View from Woodhouse Park including the River Severn and Bristol Channel in the background.

Woodhouse Park Scout Adventures is sited in South Gloucestershire overlooking the River Severn, near to the Severn Bridge and the junction of the M4 and M5 motorways.[101] The 36-acre site includes large open fields and woodland and is owned by and the headquarters of Avon Scouts.[102] The centre joined the national network of centres on 1 April 2011, becoming Woodhouse Park Scout Activity Centre with a logo of a silhouette of the Second Severn Crossing against a lime green square with rounded corners and black outline.[68][38] It was renamed to Woodhouse Park Scout Adventures in September 2016 before ceasing as a national centre following the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 with the site being returned to Avon Scouts.[48][50]

While a national centre, the site had five large camping fields, two buildings which could be used for accommodation or training purposes and a tented village with a combined 128 beds.[103] Woodhouse Park offered a range of activities on site include climbing, high ropes, low ropes, crate stacking, target activities (including archery, rifle shooting and tomahawk throwing), trails and courses as well as off-site activities included Sailing, Kayaking, and Caving.[104][105]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Scout Adventures". Scouting: 50. Autumn 2016.
  3. ^ "Why Scout Adventures?". Scout Adventures. The Scout Association. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  4. ^ James, Chris (2014). A History of Scouting in 100 Objects. London: Langham Press; The Scout Association. p. 56.
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  7. ^ "The Site". Broadstone Warren. East Sussex Scouts. Archived from the original on 1 September 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
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  46. ^ "Home". Scout Adventures. The Scout Association. Retrieved 7 November 2020. Our Centres currently remain closed due to the pandemic with many of our team furloughed. You may have also seen announcements that 2 of our centres, Downe and Woodhouse Park are closing for 2021 Customers affected will be contacted by our customer support team soon - please bear with us as we work our way through the bookings For new bookings please head to the contact us section and our team will be happy to help you.
  47. ^ Alexander, Michael (15 August 2020). "Scouts Scotland outdoor activity centres in 'grave jeopardy', warns charity's Fife-based CEO Katie Docherty". The Courier. DC Thompson Media. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
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  50. ^ a b c "Home". Scout Adventures. The Scout Association. Retrieved 8 February 2021. Our Centres currently remain closed due to the pandemic with many of our team furloughed. You may have also seen announcements that 2 of our centres, Downe and Woodhouse Park are closing for 2021
  51. ^ a b Nicholson, Sue (6 November 2020). "Coronavirus: Downe Scout Activity Centre to be sold due to pandemic". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
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