Chigwell Row News - Autumn 2019

Written by Yvonne Scott, Warden, Chigwell Row

The early part of the year saw the installation of a new kitchen and boiler in Oaklands Lodge; what an improvement! Our fuel bills have reduced & there have been favourable comments from our users. The project took a while to complete but it was worth it to ensure that a good job was done. Why not bring your unit in 2020 & see for yourselves!

Two counties have held successful adult leader weekends offering a mixture of training opportunities alongside site activities. Many people passed First Response and A Safe Space trainings, making good use of Chigwell as a training venue as well as trying out bushcraft - some for the first time! - and gaining confidence to pass skills onto the girls.

Our volunteers spent much time revamping the crazy golf course. Our young volunteer team worked with the adult team to learn new skills such as mixing concrete and laying paving. Bricks for the edging and base, Astroturf for the top and bark for the floor surface were all obtained with the help of donations from local companies. The girls have enjoyed their efforts throughout the summer months, including ‘Turtle’ who started life as a donated bootscraper in our office and is now living out his retirement as an obstacle on hole 8!

Our youngest & newest member of staff, Curtis, joined our team in April. He has made a huge impact on our outdoor work as well as leading activities with groups throughout the summer. He is already a proficient archery instructor and is working towards his climbing qualification during the winter months. His time spent with the young volunteers at the weekend assisting them and empowering them to take on jobs is starting to show as their confidence and skills increase each week.

Having received a donation of an amazing hedgehog house from the RSPB we are currently working with a local hedgehog rescue centre to create wildlife corridors and encourage the hedgehogs to make Chigwell their home for life. This is an exciting project being led by Curtis as part of his Queen's Scout Award and has encouraged a young student from Capel Manor College to do her work placement with us for this year looking at Countryside Management. Her one day a week volunteering has made a big impact already and we hope we can continue a good relationship with the college in the future.

Our top four activities still continue to be climbing, crate challenge, water zorbing and zip line. However, bushcraft type activities are on the increase this year as leaders explored the “new” programme and utilised the expertise of the Chigwell Row team to assist them with various skills builders and UMA’s. The RSPB “Brilliant Birds” box continues to be a popular resource, giving Middlesex East County the idea of holding a successful day based on activity ideas within the pack. Why not try this with your unit /division/county in 2020? Book now!

‘Friends of Chigwell Row’ continue to raise funds for the site, holding many lunches and suppers as well as a cream tea. We are grateful for all their efforts and support at our events.

Some staff and volunteers attended the funeral of Mark Wilkinson, a long-standing volunteer at Chigwell Row. His archery and all-round climbing instruction, training in First Response as well as regular camping and contribution to campfires leaves a hole in our team which will be hard to fill. A sense of humour goes a long way on a cold rainy day of activity instruction and Mark taught us all to laugh at ourselves and bring humour into difficult days.

“Come 2 Camp” was again a successful weekend seeing over 350 Guides and Rangers having the opportunity to camp and take part in adventurous activities for the weekend, some of whom would not have had that experience had they not attended the event. We worked together with BASC, the governing body for shooting activities, to allow young people the opportunity to try clay pigeon shooting on-site and to facilitate discussion about gun crime and how to keep themselves safe. All our site activities were running during the weekend and we finished Saturday evening with a “not so silent” silent disco! Sally Kettle, one of our region ambassadors, spent the weekend with us encouraging the girls to face challenges and gain the 'I'm an Adventurer' badges. She judged the teddy rafts on Sunday morning and listened to 40 patrol teddy cheers and watched a long parade of banners before deciding on the winners.

Brownie and Rainbow Day was the last sunny day of the autumn and we were extremely lucky as the run of hot weather broke into pouring rain the day after! Over 800 Brownies and Rainbows enjoyed a “spacewalk” themed day, climbing, bouncing and crafting as well as aiming rockets into space, so watch out NASA some of these young adventurers may be applying soon…

It was lovely to welcome some new faces this year including a brand new unit only opened two weeks before the event! We hope you will come again and help us to celebrate the 50th Brownie and Rainbow Day in September 2020.

The 2020 price lists are on the Girlguiding LaSER website

Please make a pledge to bring your unit/division/county to Chigwell Row; it would be fantastic if we could increase our user numbers for 2020!

The girl events dates for 2020 will also be on the website shortly. Bookings for these will open in January 2020.

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