1st Finchampstead Scouts
Chairman’s Report May 2009
It’s been another fantastic year for 1st Finchampstead Scouts, and in our 90th year we continue to go from strength to strength. We’ve had some major successes but I will leave it to the Leaders report to summarise what they’ve been up to.
A huge amount of work went into refurbishing Finchbase and installing the traversing wall just after Christmas, and as you look around, you can see one of the reasons why we’ve just been named as the fastest growing Scout group in the country. Whilst I’m mentioning the wall, I’m pleased that Chris Brett, our President, agreed that we could dedicate the wall in memory of her late husband Don, a stalwart of Scouting over much of his life.
We’ve generated extra capacity by enlarging some of the sections and following on from the second Scout Troop (Friday evening) we added a second Beaver colony on Saturday mornings. We do however still have a large waiting list and we do have some problems with progression between sections and the lack of available Explorer places for Scouts who leave.
Of course it’s not just the environment which makes us popular, no child after all is forced to come (as far as I’m aware!); it’s the enthusiasm and dedication of our leaders which make the group what it is. No one associated with 1st Finch Scouts gets paid for what they do; they give up their time and in many cases part of their annual leave from work to train for and to run the various activities which keep your children coming back for more.
Behind the scenes there is a small core of individuals who also give up their time and energy either as part of the Executive Committee or as an extra pair of hands when for example, paint needs splashing around, a marquee needs putting up or down or when in helping a camp run smoothly. Some of them are moving on from their roles including Jackie McGill (Treasurer) and Dave Clough (Finch Base manager) and Isi Kent has also indicated that she will want to step down as Secretary in due course. So once again, I want to place on record my thanks to them and all of those who help run this group.
We heard last week that the Heritage Lottery application to redevelop California Country Park (which would have included new facilities for us) has been rejected. This leaves us back at square one in terms of our building and our lease on the land it stands on. It does at least remove one complicating factor in our discussions with the council, though I doubt that any decisions will be arrived at in the near future.
After much discussion, we decided to buy a minibus out of our existing funds and it’s already proving to be an asset to the group. It was bought out of funds originally put aside for building development and we will therefore need to put more effort into fundraising. A number of the leaders will be staging a sponsored attempt on the 3 Peaks Challenge; Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, in theory within 24 hours. Anything you can do to try and help raise money for this either as individuals or through your employers will help.
That brings me on to the challenges we have and what you need to do to help. On the face of it, we are a growing vibrant group with loads of willing leaders and to a certain extent that is true. However, although we are an old group (90 years) many of our uniformed leaders are relatively inexperienced and need time to meet the requirements needed to run some of the more adventurous activities we can offer. If anyone out there has experience you can offer us (e.g. sailing, climbing or anything else!) we want to hear from you. It wouldn’t be a long term regular commitment – perhaps just an evening or two a year. At the same time, if you are interested in a formal uniformed role, don’t hold back whether you have experience or not!
In the background, it is the same faces we see at every event helping out. There must be well in excess of 200 parents of 1st Finch Scouts, Cubs and Beavers out there and yet at most, only about 30 of you have any involvement in the group. This cannot go on for ever. As the group grows, the challenges and workload change and we need to change the way the Exec Committee works and be much clearer on who is responsible for what. We can only do that with fresh blood.
I know you are all busy people (most of the leaders of this group have full time jobs and families) but we need some of your valuable time to keep us going. We will work to your strengths, to your time availability and aim to give you a small (or at least manageable) clearly defined role which could make all the difference to your children.
So in conclusion, I am going to shamelessly misquote John F Kennedy: “Ask not what 1st Finch Scouts can do for you (or your children), ask what you can do for 1st Finch Scouts.” Come and see me or one of the other leaders after this meeting, or call me or email me, because if you don’t, I can’t guarantee that this wonderful opportunity will remain here for our children into the future.
Chairman 1st Finchampstead Scouts
0118 973 6855
It has been a fantastic year for the group. We have opened a new Beaver colony and a new Scout troop which has enables us to open up many more places to young people in the area and reduce our waiting lists.
As a result of this we have been recognised as the fastest growing Scout group in the country, an accolade that saw us get national press coverage in the Daily Mail and we are also doing some local media coverage which is good for the group.
At the start of the year we had a delay to the start of the term due a major refit of Finchbase where we have put in a traversing wall which all sections have enjoyed using. The wall has been name after the late Don Brett a great supporter of Finchampstead scout group and Wokingham district scouts.
Camps, as ever, have played an important part to the year. The Cubs had a very successful Harry Potter themed camp at Longridge. The Scouts had a great summer camp in the Forest of Dean and have followed that up with an Autumn Camp at Fernycrofts, where they were in danger of being washed away, and then Eastrek at the same location.
The highlight of the year must be The Three Towers Hike. Finch entered four Scout teams 3 of which were placed in the top 5, out of 50 entrants, including the winning team so well done to all the scouts who trained so hard for this. In addition credit should go to the adult teams who did very well to come 2nd and 3rd out of 20 entrants.
At the end of June a team of leaders will be doing the Three Peaks Challenge [the highest mountains in England, Scotland & Wales in under 24 hours]. This is to raise money for the group and we hope that people will give generously.
Each section continues to put a lot of emphasis on the members gaining both challenge and activities badges which is good to see.
None of this happens without a lot of effort from the adult leaders and we would like to thank them all for the time and energy that they all put in to making each section so successful. It is particularly pleasing that we have more warranted leaders this year and also a growing number of adult helpers. We would also like to thank the older scouts and explorers who help out at Beavers and Cubs. This gives them good experience, helps the leaders and also creates a good link between the sections.
As we continue to grow as a group with the prospect of having to open a 3rd Scout troop within the group we are again on the look out for your adults or parents to come forward to help out this could be in uniform or not, if you have a skill that you may think that may be useful to the group please let us know.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the executive who provide so much support in helping us to run the group.
2009 is the groups 90th birthday and we will be holding a celebration party at Longridge in October so watch this space for more details of that.
More up and coming events that the group will be doing this year
The cubs and beavers are off to Gilwell Park for a funday
The scouts head to Devon for a week long camp by the river Dart
The cubs head to Walton Firs for cub camp
The scouts will have a weekend camp in the autumn and another Easter walking trip and will be back to defend the trophy in the 3 Towers hiking competition
The cubs have a full list of district events that they enter during the year.
The cubs are also taking part in Cubjam at Gilwell Park
It is a pleasure to be part of such a successful group and we all look forward to a great 2009/2010.
Simon Gosden Dave Judge