Sunday, November 25, 2007

Scottish Conference 2007

Above : Despite a complete lack of snow, the Scottish Olympic hopefuls pressed on with their training session on the sunday morning.

An impressive turnout from the Fordell staff this weekend with a total of 17 helpers over the two days to assist with a couple of big events. First up was a visit from a local youth football club (Kelty), who arrived on saturday lunchtime for 4 hours of activities. Most of the site's activities were on offer and despite the threat of rain early on everything went well before the early demise of the sun just before 5pm called a halt to the fun.

A total of around 80 youngsters took part in the day, along with a healthy group of club coaches, helpers and parents. In between bases, each group had the chance to have some food which had been prepared by the adults - the first group of kids rather amusingly helping themselves to all the meat sandwiches and leaving the rest with the less-popular cheese ones.

After 4 hours of activities the group moved to the wet weather hall where the club coaches had an award ceremony to give out the season's trophies.

Above : All shook up - young Elvis fan gets carried away during team-building base at Aviemore.

On the sunday, the staff split into two (not literally of course) with 8 going up to run a teambuilding session at the Scottish Scout Conference in Aviemore and the others taking care of the usual work on site.
After an unheard-of early departure of 7am, the teambuilders arrived in Aviemore just after 9am and set about setting up their equipment in the carpark of the hotel. From 10am till lunchtime the staff entertained nearly 100 youngsters who were taking part in the conference with 5 different bases requiring various forms of teamwork, agility and balance, while a bemused long-distance lorry driver watched on in wonder.

Above : Innovative youngsters demonstrate their idea for the new Forth crossing to interested politicians.

After lunch, the Fordell staff participated in the 'marketplace', where a number of different activity centres and organisations had the opportunity to showcase their products and services in the main exhibition area of the hotel. A fairly sharp exit was required in order to get back down to the site and finish off a few tasks, so it wasn't possible to catch the end of the conference, but most of the staff had the chance to wander round the other bases and stalls in the hotel first.

Arriving back at Fordell just after 4pm, the teambuilders were pleasantly surprised to find most of the jobs already completed, leaving them with just the task of checking that the tea urn was still working properly and performing a statutory taste test.

Monday, November 19, 2007

GNAS Archery Leader course

Above : Course tutor Derek passing on top shooting tips to the class.

Although it's been a fairly quiet month in terms of campers and visitors, the centre has been hosting a few training courses which have been well-attended. A weekend emergency first-aid course run by staff member Brian last weekend was sandwiched between a 2-part GNAS Archery Leader course which has been a regular feature over the past few years.

The archery course is run over 4 days, the first 3 being training and the final one being an assessment. Local archery guru Derek was the main tutor as before, with regional coach Frank coming all the way down from Aberdeen on the sunday for the umpteenth time to assess the candidates.

12 people attended the course in total - a mixture of staff from Fordell and Auchengillan activity centres, regular site users Fairbridge (Edinburgh), one local leader and local guy Steve who is planning on starting up an archery club at his childrens' primary school soon.

Above : No James, I think you'll find that your arrows are the ones which are lying on the ground next to the target.

In a pretty intensive few days, Derek covered a huge range of sessions including shooting technique, coaching, equipment selection and maintenance and safety. In between the two weekends the course members had the chance to improve their technique before the assessment and also brush up on the theory side of things.

Above : Shortsighted Tristan from Auchengillan aims for the yellow, which turns out to be the sun. Surprisingly, he hits it first time but receives minor burns whilst retrieving it.

By the assessment weekend all the participants had managed to improve their own techniques considerably, now regularly hitting the target gold instead of the rest of the target / safety net / wet weather hall roof girders (delete as applicable).

After the formal training part of the course was over, some of the residentual members took the opportunity to watch Scotland's Euro 2008 hopes evaporate, although one particular course member from a well-known west-coast activity centre had the embarrassment of having to be rescued from the roof of the staffhut after trying to retrieve his football (not that we'd be cruel enough to post a photo here)

Above : Bob catches Auchengillan staff member red-handed, trying to steal the roof off the staff-hut.

On the sunday, assessor Frank spent several hours testing everyone's knowledge and practical ability, and remarked that the group had been one of the best he'd seen in recent times. All participants received their Archery Leader award and will now be entitled to instruct sessions on their own using the skills picked up during the course.