It’s all Smiles on the water

Saturday 21st September saw 19 Beavers, Cubs, Scouts & Explorers from the 1st Smiles Scout Group, led by Peter Lawton and the Smiles Leaders, enjoy a wonderful water activity day on the River Wensum. This was hosted by Marc Stacey, Group Scout Leader ably supported by the Leadership Team of the 16th Norwich Sea Scouts at their headquarters in Costessey, Norwich 

For many of the young people this was to be their first experience on, and in some cases in, the water. Not a cloud was seen in the sky but plenty of smiles were seen on the faces of the Scouts taking part. 

With the young people arranged into two groups, the morning activities were Canoeing & Kayaking. 

Having changed out of uniform & into wet activity kit including buoyancy jackets. Before getting on the water the scouts received comprehensive safety instructions from the trained leadership team. Adventurous activities with safety in mind was the order of the day. 

Just in case we needed reminding, the river is an integral part of nature and we had to share the Wensum with the local wildlife, namely a pair of swans that seemed that seemed totally oblivious to the sight & sounds of Scouts paddling away. 

After an hour on the water it was time to swap activities and to receive the relevant safety instructions then to get even wetter, if that’s possible. 

After another hour on the water it was time to get into dry clothes then to enjoy an AL fresco lunch in the warm September sunshine. 

The afternoon activities started with an assault course with a watery twist. The two teams of Scouts, in relay, had to carry cups of water over, under & through obstacles with the winning team having carried the most water. 

Then after a short drinks break it was back into activity kit, not forgetting the buoyancy jackets, and back to the river for the final wet activity of the day…. Rafting. 

Now in three groups the young people had a raft race up & down the river. Many of the scouts were to end up in the water, even those who didn’t fall off the rafts it was time to get wet…. VERY WET!! 

After another hour of fun, smiles & laughter, it was time for warm dry clothes.

In the late summer sun, there was enough time for Peter Lawton to hold a group forum during which the Scouts discussed what activities they would like to do in the future. Along with the perennial favourites like archery, shooting, abseiling & climbing, one surprising activity seemed to be very popular was that of doing a litter pick. These young people certainly are thinking of the future. ‘Our world in safe hands’. 

The young people’s families were invited back a little early as Peter had some fantastic news to share. Also Norfolk Scouts County Commissioner, Matthew Burrell and Northern Norwich District Chairman, Neville Jarvis were present to hear the following brilliant announcement….. 

The 1st Smiles Scout Group was set up as a pilot scheme in 2109 for bereaved young people but the group is to continue on a permanent basis in 2020 and on into the future. 

This news was met with a resounding round of applause and cheers from all present. 

Peter also mentioned that Gilwell had been interviewing members of the group as to what it meant to everybody concerned. Keep a look out for an upcoming article in the Scouting Magazine. 

With that a wonderful day came to a close…. but what a day!! 

 Report – Roger Childs