Explorers belting around the Czech Republic
Deep fried cheese, Oplatky (circular flavoured wafers) and beautiful forests will certainly feature in any comments from our Explorers who recently returned from the Czech Republic where they successfully completed the journeying and cultural parts of the first ever Telstar Explorer Belt challenge.
The challenge is open to Explorers of 16 years and over. To win the award which is in fact a silver buckle on a leather belt, contenders must travel for 50 hours by public transport or self-powered means in 10 days, complete 10 projects chosen by themselves and their mentors and last but not least, present their findings in the form of a diary and a presentation. Budgeting and planning successfully are also key considerations.
Our group chose as the main project to interview Czech people about their experiences before and after the Velvet Revolution. Not only is it an impressively mature choice of topic, but as we found out it, it involved considerable resourcefulness to first of all find likely interviewees. However at this point, the task is only partly done… then comes the need for a lot of confidence and high-level of communication skills to explain the objective and persuade people to take part.
During the ten days, we tasted a complete range of healthy but dubiously flavoured spa waters of amazing naturally warm temperatures in Karlovy Vary. Then thanks to scouting cooperation, local scout leaders in Prague introduced us to their favourite sights, sounds and tastes. We heard about and experienced the amazing success of tourism in Cesky Krumlov and negotiated several weirs during a rafting day there. The trip drew to a close with cycling around Lake Lipno and then a couple of days in the beautifully preserved nature of the Sumava National Park.
My thanks to Alana, Beth, Daisy, Dylan, Megan and Katarina for lots of laughs and no dull moments, to Nicola for enabling everyone to enjoy it to the fullest and last but not least to Martin and Rachel Hollywood for the generous loan of their people carrier!
More pictures can be viewed via the photo ALbum on the telstar website home page www. telstar.lu
2014 so far ….
The Explorers have had a busy and varied year so far so I thought it was time for an update on what we have been up to so far. To include everything would be huge but here is a taster.
We started the year orienteering in the forest near Hostert. This was a great way to improve navigational skills which become very important for the Explorers as they work towards their Mérite Jeunesse (International Duke of Edinburgh) Awards, more on this later. It was a fun afternoon and we finished the activity with the same number of Explorer and leaders we started with so that is always a plus!
Deciding that the orienteering was clearly not challenging enough for our Explorers, in October we went to Camp Lagland, a Belgium Army tank training camp near Arlon, to play the ‘Hunger Games’. As always the Explorers really threw themselves in to the activity and had great fun. Clearly fighting to the death, as in the book, was not really an option but we allowed the Explorers to safely attack one another using marker pens on the oversized white T-shirts they all wore. Points could also be gained by making allegiances, completing tasks, finding food and water etc. Our overall winner of the event was Alana, and our Katnis award for teamwork was awarded to Ida, well done both.
Having ensured that the Explorers could navigate and survive hardship we took our 10 Gold level Mérite Jeunesse candidates on their Practice Expedition. Due to time constraints this had to be done in Luxembourg but the last weekend of October ensured the weather was pretty grim and both camping and walking were challenging. These 10 Explorers will be facing their Assessed Expedition in the French Pyrenees in April, which is something we are all really looking forward to.
In November to celebrate Guy Faulk’s night, a very British tradition, we decided to hold an Explorer one night bonfire camp. The weather was pretty wet but we used the LGS Scout campground in Senningerberg which has an outdoor covered area and when the rain came down we moved our fire into the BBQ pit undercover. We had a great night and were up late telling ghost stories around the fire while trying to extract the traditional bonfire toffee from its container (not one of my best culinary efforts).
Several members of the unit participated in the Telstar 1st Aid Training delivered at the FNEL HQ in Hamm in January…
This year we have also been working with the charity ‘natur&ëmwelt’, an environmental charity dedicated to supporting wildlife. We have been to two events in November and February to help clear scrub land to encourage the introduction of the Grey partridge into the area. These are always excellent days, give Explorers saws, axes, fires and good food and they are a happy bunch.
January found us getting to know the other Explorer groups in Luxembourg at the FNEL Explorer Sports day. We had 3 teams in this event which was good fun but rather challenging. In Telstar we move from Scouts into Explorers at age 14, but in the rest of Luxembourg it is at age 15. This meant that many of our team members looked very small against their competitors, a particular disadvantage in basketball! However all 3 teams performed really well and did Telstar proud.
Deciding that if we were to keep playing with the big kids a bit of self-defence may be in order we drew on the skills of our local martial arts expert Ashley. The Explorers had a great time pretending to attack each other and hit each other with big sticks. So as I stood by with the first aid kit, they learned a few basic moves to defend themselves. I am pleased to say the first aid kit was not required and they all left the session smiling widely.
So as the Spring arrives we now move into the expedition season where Explorers will be working on all 3 levels of the Mérite Jeunesse award. In March all the leaders are looking forward to the very proud moment when 14 or our Explorers receive their awards at the Annual Award Ceremony. We will be receiving 3 Gold awards, 8 Silver and 3 Bronze, very well done to you all. More details on this in my next missive.
As ever I am very proud to be the leader of such a fantastic group of teenagers. We currently have 35 Explorers and anticipate about 44 in September. As a final note I think many parents think we must be mad to be Explorer leaders, taking their stroppy teenagers off them for the weekend, well it’s not a requirement but it does help! But really parents really you have wonderful children.
From the Explorer Leadership Team
Nicola, Sully, Tom, Lisa, Hayley, Harriet, Pierre and Brian….