2023 Highlights

6 January 2024

1HP Christmas letter 2023

One of the big achievements of this year has been the affiliation of Chingford Explorers with 1st Highams Park Group. That closer relationship will make it easier for Scouts to continue scouting with the section that is designed for teenagers approaching adulthood. We are already seeing the Explorers Unit go from strength to strength under its fantastic volunteer leader team of Cameron, Andrew, James, Manisha and Julia.

This year had a lot going on. For a start, we are very proud of our 4 Explorers, Jacob, Maya, Eloise and Sam, who represented 1st HP at World Scout Jamboree in South Korea. Despite the tough conditions, they made the most of the trip, no-one will ever be able to moan about hot weather in their earshot!

The next Jamboree will be in Poland in 2027. 1st Highams Park is
committed to supporting every Scout who wants to attend a future World Scout Jamboree.

The summer also saw the first Waltham Forest District Camp at Gilwell for many, many years – and I’d like to remind everyone of Beaver team leader Sam Farnell’s incredible home-made cuckoo clock, the
centrepiece of 1st HP’s pitch!

That was followed by our annual 1st HP Family Camp at Tolmers in July, where we dodged some dodgy trees and had a rather showery, but undaunted campfire.

So all in all, it was a brilliantly outdoorsy summer!

And of course the weekly gatherings of Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers throughout 2023 covered a huge range of activities, with far too much to cover here. But here are some highlights:

Beavers had seven Bronze Chief Scout awards: Ira Clifford, Robin Erbes, Cesare Woolnough, JJ Whitlam, Jenson Hilery, Freddie Wilkin and Lowen Barnett. Congrats to all of them.

The Beavers learnt Morse Code, basic first aid and had a visit from the air ambulance. They followed a map and clues to discover an alien in the woods, went to Gilwell funday and broke with tradition to have the messy Mally water fight at the Quick.

In the Autumn they visited the Food Hub and raised over £260 by Carol singing at Tesco – a superb effort!

Meanwhile, the Cubs enjoyed a part science/part magic evening creating ice cream in a matter of minutes with just milk, salt and ice. It is hard to say what was more exciting, the making or the eating!

Highams Park Cubs love being outdoors and some of our best evenings were in the Mally grounds. You cannot beat a good fire and we’ve put them to good use burning our Guys, or burning our attempt at campfire chocolate orange cakes. We didn’t manage to burn any Cubs, so on balance we are calling it a success.

We enjoyed a magnificent end to the Cubs’ spring term with a warm evening at Gilwell Park. It was one big rush of speed and adrenaline with a super-fast slip and slide, water games and F1-standard grass sledging. Dragging the sledges back up the hill was not so much fun.

The Cubs completed their annual bike ride through Epping Forest, which is always a real treat, but the build-up was even better with a bike maintenance session at Highams Park’s very own Heales Cycles. Not only did they give all our bikes the quick once over but everyone came home with decent swag! Thank you Heales Cycles.

As for the Scouts, a judo session kicked off the year, and once we could get outside, we had a really good fire lighting session with the Tindersticks bushcraft team and a challenging orienteering course around Highams Park.

There was a session of kayaking on the lake – although of course, not all of us like staying OUT of the water… and in the Autumn a team of older scouts took part in the District weekend Expedition camp, and did a fantastic job.

The end of the year saw a return to two of the scouts’ favourite activities: bouldering at the Stronghold in Tottenham Hale, and of course the annual Chip Shop Challenge!

Last but very much not least, the Explorers, who gave themselves a new nickname. The decision seemed to take most of the year, but they ended up deciding on the Basilisks (look it up!).

Highlights included making pizza ovens out of cardboard, and a fantastic 2nd place in the Kilmuir Trophy Challenge (an amazing weekend scavenging all over London for 48 hours!).

We were also extremely excited for our two Explorers who received special awards. Harry received his Chief Scout’s Diamond award, and Jacob received the Chief Scout’s Commendation for Meritorious Conduct. Both should feel extremely proud.

For all of our sections, from Beavers up to Explorers, the achievements and the fun wouldn’t exist without the 1st Highams Park volunteer leaders, whose week-in, week-out dedication is very greatly appreciated. And of course we’ve had plenty of help from parents this year.

We also need to recognise Rob and Therese, our Chair and Treasurer respectively, who along with other members of our Executive Committee, do all sorts behind the scenes that most parents never see. Therese is stepping down after a long stint as Treasurer, but we’re delighted that Manisha Nicholls is taking her place. Thanks to Therese for wrangling those spreadsheets over the years!

Our Young Leaders are also a great asset to the group: Maya, Cliodhna, Eloise, Harry and Jacob. As ever, they do a great job of keeping the adult leaders on their toes…

THANK YOU to all of these volunteers who keep the Group alive and thriving.

We’re all very lucky to have 1st Highams Park – but it doesn’t happen without a bit of effort. So if you feel like contributing to local life, there’s always more to be done – get in touch and get involved.

Bring on 2024!