Oliver Cubitt (Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club)
Sunday 30th of April 2017
Before returning to Cambridge for a term of exams, 5 CUSAGCers spent two nights camping on an island and trying out various water activities for our Trip Over Easter
From the 18th to the 20th of April 2017 five CUSAGC members headed to Holt Island, home of 2nd St. Ives Sea Scouts, for Trip Over Easter (TOE). This was the first TOE to take place in my time in the club and, given the facilities at the camp site, we decided to spend the majority of our time on the water. We arrived on site in the early afternoon on the Tuesday and began to set up camp. Thankfully our new event shelter was fully functioning, and provided good facilities as a stores area for the weekend. This along with two club tents, and a hammock for the particularly adventurous AAC, formed our campsite. Once camp was set up we took to the water in kayaks for a leisurely paddle up stream. Special mention should be given to Cara who had never been kayaking before, but by the end of the session had mastered keeping the boat in a straight line and was keeping up with much more experienced paddlers (and hopefully enjoying herself!). Following a last minute food shopping trip after realising half of our food was still in stores , we made our chicken curry and settled down to a camp fire , expertly lit by Amy (who clearly earned her red square !)
Day two began with breakfast, after which we headed to the flagpole for a short opening ceremony, or at least we thought it would be short! As the flag made its way up the pole we noticed that someone (possibly me...) had not attached the counterweights to the flag, and as such there was no way of getting the flag back down again. With the flag flying at half mast we attempted to pull it down with a bit of drain pipe to no avail (and with me ending up flat on my back in a bed of nettles having fallen off a barrel). Tom then attempted to retrieve the flag with a catapult, firing rope attached to a projectile to hook to the flag, again to no avail. Finally Amy had the idea to tape a tent peg to the drain pipe, with which we were able to attach to the halyard and bring the flag back down to ground level. An hour after colours was meant to have taken place, we re-hoisted the flag (this time with counterweights attached) to the top of the flagpole, and with the CUSAGC flag flying over us we began our day’s activities.
The first activity after our flag rescuing session was raft building, in which we proved that we can all remember our scout/guide pioneering skills (special thanks to Tim T for refreshing mine and Meghan’s knowledge during pioneering sessions at 28th!) By lunch time our 6 barrelled raft, imaginatively named HMS CUSAGC, was ready to be launched. We had a quick lunch break and then took to the water for a trip downriver. Whilst structurally sound, HMS CUSAGC was not the quickest vessel known to man, with elderly walkers on the banks of the river easily overtaking us as we paddled through St Ives town centre. With a dry pouch sealed Whimsy Duck riding at the front of the raft we travelled downriver for about an hour before fighting both wind and river flow direction to make it back to Holt Island. Amy showcased her raft repair skills on the move when one of our barrels became untied from the raft on the move, with minimal drama the barrel was re-attached and we were able to continue slowly making progress along the river. On returning to HQ we tested out HMS CUSAGC with some slightly wet games, including jumping up and down , swapping places, and raft jousting , after which all of us had been for at least one swim in the pool at Holt Island! Whilst some members warmed up with a shower and a change of clothes, others of us stayed on the water for a little longer trying out stand up (or was that fall in) paddle boarding. Whilst some of us seemed able to master this, others with a poor sense of balance realised that it was much safer to just have a lie down on the board and relax as they floated around the pool.
Once we were all dry we made dinner, vegetarian spag bol, and relit the camp fire. Evening entertainment consisted of spatula/spoon carving and campfire songs (all of which were suitable for the pre watershed slot!). Spatulas carved, and stomachs full of spag bol and fire cooked garlic bread, we headed to bed.
On the final day after breakfast, we said goodbye to Cara who was heading back to Cambridge slightly earlier, before taking to the water in kayaks for the final time for an upriver expedition to Houghton Mill. This journey involved traversing a lock, a precarious challenge of stepping out of a floating boat, carrying them over the lock, and stepping back down in to it on the other side. That is to say everyone else did it that way, I (and Whizzy the puffin mascot) returned to my sea scouting routes and ‘seal dived’ from the pier heading in to the river, resulted in a fairly swamped spray deck and wet legs when I realised my deck did not quite fit the boat I was using! After lunch at Houghton Mill we returned to Holt Island to clear up and pack up camp , before lowering the flag (much less eventful than its raising!) and loading the kit back in to Tom’s car for potentially the last trip to the Cory Road Stores.
Thank you to Tom, who as AAC did a fantastic job at organising this camp which we are all very grateful for! Special thanks also go to St Ives Sea Scouts for letting us use their HQ and boats. Hopefully we will make a return visit to Holt Island as part of 2018’s SSAGO Duck Rally, if not for another club camp before then!