The Gilwell Reunion 2018 was the 92nd Reunion to be held at Gilwell Park and celebrates 99years of Gilwell Park.
Gilwell Reunion is an annual event established to mark the first Wood Badge course in 1919. The event has run every year since 1921 (except for four years during the Second World War) and is an opportunity for adults in Scouting to experience an active, educational weekend and to meet up with friends old and new from across the globe. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about projects and programme activities, share knowledge, network and have fun!
Well that’s the official description from The Scout Association describing What Gilwell Reunion is all about.
But in reality what’s it really like?
It is just an excuse for a Leader’s to get together without young people and have a catch up with friends and then have a few beers around the campfire? or is it an educational weekend, refreshing yourself about the latest POR or reminder about safeguarding? Maybe leaders attened to get new programme resources for example? Well I would say all of the above to be perfectly honest.
Some leaders just want a weekend away to recharge their batteries ready for the new scouting year which generally starts just after Reunion, but for other leaders they attened to learn new ideas, POR, attend some amazing presentations in subjects ranging from how to get new volunteers to the latest updates about GDPR. There’s a massive amount of learning resources and experiences at Gilwell Reunion over the weekend.
But for me, I was there to help on the Bushscout Area. Our base was under 2 huuuuuuuuge parachutes, teaching Practical Skills to Leader’s. Maybe for some leaders it was refreshing their fire lighting skills but for many the came to learn new practical skills with us such as Tracking, Pigeon prep and knife safety.
We had a nice steady constant flow of leaders wanting to learn new skills with us.
I was teaming up with Val and Derek to run the fire lighting base. Val and Del was teaching the art of the bow drill, chemical reaction fire lighting and the amazing coffee tin rockets to name a few things. Where as I was teaching basic fire lighting, natural tinder and gave some programme ideas to run back at the Scout Hall such as making your very own fire lighters using a week’s worth of belly button fluff and some melted down candle wax.
Myself and The old man-Terry, built a traditional wood grading pile which got alot of attention over the weekend as not alot of people spend time grading their wood – belive me this is a must when fire lighting.
We had a busy stand all day on the Saturday. Our Pigeon prep and cooking skills sessions seemed to prove very popular sessions as did our tracking and knife safety sessions.
My Fire Lighting based had a nice regular stream of people. Some leaders having previous fire lighting skills but wanted to brush up their knowledge or wanting to see what new tricks they could learn such as lighting a fire using your own pee, another popular technique was a kitchen roll filled with a month’s supply of my belly button fluff – really this was a kitchen roll filled with lint from the tumble drier and melted wax poured over it and not forgetting what is proving to be our famous “Birthday Cake”.
I managed to sneak away for a hour or so to look round the rest of the reunion show and picked up some new programme ideas such Conker Championships in the autumn and rope making. I even bought a new Scout Leader’s shirt as mine is looking rather worn out and scruffy.
With a few badge swaps, I came home with some new badges and also a rather special Elvis Presley guitar pick given to me by some American Scout Fellows all the way from Memphis, Tennessee. Which was once owned by the singer and actor Elvis Presley and where he is buried.
Saturday evening saw some of the Bushscout Team head down to the Pub on Essex a chase and sample 1 or 2….or 3 pints of different ales and Ciders. We also started a new Challenge – The Scout Selfie challenge, which meant we had to take selfies with a selection of High Profiled Scout members such as Tim Kidd, Matt Hyde and Alex Peace Gadsby.
On Sunday morning we got out of our hammocks and feeling a like a grizzly bear we got our area ready for the morning teaching sessions. These sessions included guest appearances from Tim Kidd and Chief Exec Matt Hyde, who informed us he is now training to become a Scout Leader in his home county of Hertfordshire and not forgetting Dwayne Fields who is our new Scouting Ambassador. Dwayne is known for being the first black Briton to walk to the North Pole, Dwayne is also a former Cub Scout and an advocate of the power of Scouting to help young people develop skills for life.
Loved your base, Great work that you all do – Tim Kidd- UK Chief Commissioner
Bushscout is exactly what scouts is all about – #skillsforlife – Matt Hyde – CEO for UK The Scout Association
All in all it was a great weekend. It was lovely to meet old Scouting friends, making new Scout friends and chatting to leaders who already follow my blog and vlog posts.
Next year Gilwell Reunion 2019 will celebrate 100yrs Gilwell Park , so make sure you put the date in your diary now. It’s going to be a whopper event. The date is Friday 6th September to Sunday 8th September 2019