During what felt like an unprecedented heatwave for Dorset, we welcomed Scouts from Roma 51 group to camp with us. You know it’s particularly hot when Italians find it uncomfortable!
Despite the weather, the Scouts jointly enjoyed an action-packed weekend, made new friends between our two groups, and opened the door to a relationship between Longham and Roma in the future.
The camp was not without some unforeseen calamities though: on the first day our visitors suffered from traditional British public transport problems. Many from Longham tried to stay up until the early hours of the morning to greet the weary travellers.
For the Italians to maximise their resting time, our Scouts got up earlier to cook and treat their guests for a Full English Breakfast. The hearty meal was necessary as we spent the whole day out.
The first destination was Poole Quay, where we could see the Baden Powell statue, historic buildings and waterfront. From here we took the ferry to Brownsea Island. This was very important to our visitors as it is of course the origin or the world Scouting movement. We were lucky to see some of the natural wonders including red squirrels and baby peacocks. With the heat, plenty of breaks were needed though; so, the Scouts enjoyed a picnic lunch and a spot of colouring!
It was an extra special occasion for two Longham Scouts who got invested at the Scout Stone on the island. During this ceremony, they were also ‘invested’ as honorary members of the Roma 51 group, making it an occasion hard to forget.
Cooling off was then the priority, so Roma & Longham enjoyed a little party at Sandbanks beach. Jumping into the cool water was a must for all and some decided to stay in for hours because it was so comfortable and enjoyable.
Keeping with tradition, dinner was Fish & Chips enjoyed by everyone. The Italians were particularly keen to try the Curry Sauce, Mushy Peas and Pea Fritter. Our Scouts learned the Italian for ‘milkshake’ was… ‘milkshake’!
Upon returning to the campsite, we all took time to relax around the campfire. During this time, our Scouts introduced various other traditional foods to their guests including snacks like pork scratchings and twiglets. It was also an opportunity to try unique drinks like dandelion & burdock. They found the ginger beer a bit too ‘picante’ to enjoy though!
Sunday was a day of extreme activities on the stunning Jurassic Coast. Longham & Roma worked together to build trust and friendships, taking part in rock climbing and coasteering activities.
The rock climbing presented some of the most impressive and challenging rock faces that our Scouts have ever encountered. These included overhangs and sections with very few hand-holds. The instructors were first class though and taught them sufficiently to have the skill and confidence for many to get to the top.
The coasteering took the Scouts on a swimming tour of coves spotting fossils and climbing over rocks while waves came in. It got progressively more difficult according to the confidence of each of the Scouts. This included several opportunities to leap from heights into the sea. Again, the superb instructors (some of whom were ex-Royal Marines) made them feel comfortable and secure the whole time. They taught them the importance of doing this activity safely and the risks of doing it without experienced professionals.
After such an exhilarating and exhausting day, it was time for the Italians to treat us. They taught some of our Scouts how to make a traditional fried pizza. This was a great way to close the camp and say goodbye to our Scouts over good food and company.
With our Scouts back at school, the Italian Scouts used their remaining time to tour some of the local sights with Longham Leaders becoming tour guides. They got to see Salisbury, the Magna Carta, a traditional sweet shop and a fleeting view of Stonehenge. Their final day comprised of a whistle-stop tour of London and battling further problems with the British transport system. Thankfully, they made it safely back home with bags full of souvenirs and plenty of great memories.
Many thanks to Elisa (Roma 51) and Daniel (Longham) for organising this memorable event. Also, many thanks to all the parents that gave up some time to assist with all the logistics.