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West Leeds Scouts, a mardi gras carnival – and how YOU can get involved

The summer may seem a distant memory now, but it provided an amazing opportunity for 3500 young people to celebrate their membership of the Scouting movement at the Challenge 17 Central Yorkshire County Camp, writes JUDITH HURD.

The weather at Bramham Park was (thankfully) glorious in every way.

A large contingent of Beavers, Cubs and Scouts plus their intrepid leaders from the West Leeds district arrived on the Friday to a ‘Mardi Gras’ opening carnival, where the instructions were to be loud and colourful, something which some of the leaders had clearly taken to heart!

It was a riot of colour everywhere with traditional carnival activities like hoopla, hook-a-duck, splat-the-rat, as well as a helter-skelter and dodgems for the more daring.

Young people brought along home-made musical instruments to add to the atmosphere of excitement and they were treated to displays such as fire-eating, where it was carefully stressed that such an activity was NOT to be attempted at home!

The following morning had some early risers (one pack had over half of the Cubs awake by half past five), which was just as well, given the plethora of events planned for the day.

The official opening ceremony took place after a ‘wake-up warm-up’ involving a bit of zumba, led by the seemingly indefatigable Challenge 17 team. After this, the young people scattered to try their hands at all of the activities on offer, which included ‘human’ Hungry Hippos, a caving bus, bouldering, archery, crate stacking (a perennial favourite), grass sledging, water slides, and water mazes.

There was a range of inflatables as well, such as assault courses, ‘Pillow Wars’, horse racing (‘space hopper’ style!).

As they ate their lunch, a display of ‘birds of prey’ was put on for entertainment, although one Beaver was a little alarmed to lose half a sandwich from a peckish feathered friend. In the evening, the outdoor cinema put on a film, which was followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

The final day dawned bright and clear; the young people made the most of the remaining time to try out activities they might have missed on the previous day, before starting to prepare for the closing ceremony of Challenge 17. They gathered in the main field to celebrate what had been a ‘thoroughly awesome’ (to quote one Cub) weekend.

Get involved

There are Scouting groups spread throughout the West Leeds district;

Beavers are for children aged 6 to 8 years old, Cubs for children aged 8 to 10 years old, and Scouts for those aged 10 to 14 years old. Young people over the age of 14 can get involved in the Explorers’ section with the opportunity to become a Young Leader. Adults are always most welcome, whether as an occasional helper once every few weeks, as a Charity Trustee or as a leader (training provided!).

These adult volunteers enable young people to enjoy new adventures, experience the outdoors, interact with others, and gain confidence; most volunteers say their skills and experiences from Scouting have been useful to them in their work and personal lives.

As Bear Grylls, the Chief Scout, said:

“Life is about grabbing opportunities, and Scouting makes adventure available to everyone. The prizes don’t always go to the biggest, the best or the strongest – they go to those who persevere. These are simple life lessons that Scouting teaches people.”

For more information please look at the Scouts’ website.


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