Centenary Archery Team and the Walesby World Experience

Two years ago I was asked by the management team at Walesby Forest Scout Activity Centre, to put together a team that would be able to provide a taster to archery for approximately 3000 Scouts and Guides, this was to be delivered over a one week period, between July 27th to 4th August 2007. This was to be the week when the World Scout Jamboree Camp was to be held and Walesby Forest was to be a satellite link to the main Jamboree, at Hylands Park in Essex.

During the early months, it was difficult to recruit people to the team. This was due to several factors, the main being, people were unable to commit their time so far in advance due to work commitments and family requirements.

After a slow start and several broken promises, there were enough people to run the first training course. Two training courses were run at Walesby Forest Scout Activity Centre and the nucleus of the team began to take shape.

In January 2007, Walesby Forest provided free training facilities and accommodation to run two further training courses. On the first of these there were Scouters from South Yorkshire and Humberside, the second course had Scouters from Humberside, South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. A further course took place at Melton campsite near Hull and we now had a team.

In May we had our Team practice. This was to decide how the taster session was to be delivered and any implications that may arise from this. When this was all finalised, I was able to inform the Camp organisers that we now had a functioning team.
The first team meeting was held and it was decided that the team should be known as the Centenary Archery Team, as it had been formed in the centenary of scouting. A team logo was also agreed.

At the end of May we were informed that the team would be provided with two team polo shirts each, complete with team logo and individual names by an anonymous donor, to whom we are very grateful. It gave us a great inspiration of confidence and our own unique identity, which was something to build on.

In July I selected the team leaders and teams that would deliver the archery sessions on a rolling programme.

July 26th 2007, I and my partner Diane arrived a Walesby Forest Scout Activity Centre. Our job was to set-up the camp area ready for the members of the team to arrive the following day. On arrival the weather was awful, following the severe floods that had just been experienced across the country. On the Thursday evening a rainbow appeared and shone down onto the Archery Range, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I hoped that this was to be a good sign.

Friday 27th July, the team started to arrive and everything started to take shape. The Range was set up, a booking in desk, a queuing system, briefing and waiting areas were all put into place and complete with all the signage we were ready for the first arrivals.

Saturday Lunchtime I had to attend an Activity Team Leaders meeting, where I was told that our sessions would start at 12.30 pm this afternoon as there were people that had already arrived on the camp and had nothing to do. Fortunately the team had worked hard and everything was in place to open for business. Two teams opened the sessions whilst the other had lunch and they rotated the sessions to enable everyone to have lunch. During the five hours that the Archery was open there were approximately 400 Scouts and Guides that had a go.

Sunday was our first official opening of the activities and archery was available to anyone that queued. The morning session was extremely busy, but as the weather warmed up the afternoon slowed down as people sought the shade. Almost 600 passed through during the day and we hit our target of 100 Scouts and Guides an hour.

Monday got off to a slow start as the day trips to the World Scout Jamboree at Hylands park, a visit to Alton Towers and a day trip to explore Nottingham all departed. Again the afternoon sessions slowed as the temperature rose and this was to happen each day for the rest of the week.

Tuesday daytime passed as yesterday so one of the teams was given some time off to explore the Walesby World Experience. In the evening we ran one of our special sessions, this one was for Scouts and Guides with special needs. The numbers for this session had been capped to enable the instructors to spend the necessary time with each participant to enable them to have the best possible experience. As none of the instructors had been assigned to the evening sessions, a list was put up for volunteers to assist. The result was that every instructors name was on the list and they all had to wait their turn to instruct. The outcome of the special needs session had a major impact on members of the team, given the fact that they had all been trained to instruct special needs, very few of them had had the opportunity to do this. The senior instructors took the lead and directed the other instructors on the best ways in which to deal with each person. The end of the session came when the light started to fade and we were unable to continue to shoot. A short debrief was carried out and everyone was on a high with the experience and the joy on the faces of the participants. Everyone agreed that this was the most enjoyable and rewarding experience of the week.

Wednesday was to be an early start. Breakfast was at 6.00am, our own Group, 3rd Doncaster (Rossington) arrived at 7.00am and we met them at reception where they had to register. Our own Scout Group and the Archery team all joined together and made our way to the main arena, where everyone was to renew their Scout or Guide Promise at 8.00am, followed by a continental breakfast and the signing of a white neckerchief which was given to everyone attending. After this event the archery team departed from the main arena to set up the archery range for the day ready for everyone to come and have a turn.
Wednesday evening was to be the turn of the Scout and Guide leaders to have their session. The purpose of this was to take the leaders and give them a short break away from their charges and to enable them to both let off a bit of steam and have a good time. The session went extremely well with leaders from different countries coming along to have a go at archery. Once again time got the better of us and the light started to disappear. The session was closed as the instructors were given five minutes to shoot a demonstration and impress the Scout and Guide leaders that had taken part.

Friday evening was the closing ceremony and we joined all our new friends in the main arena where there were some highlights of the events that had taken place during the week were shown on the big screen. This was followed by the collection of flags and a spectacular firework display. What a fitting end to a fantastic week.

During the week we recorded over 2,950 Scouts, Guides and Leaders had all come and had a go at archery.

Saturday was to be the day we went our separate ways. A weekend chill out and debrief had been arranged for the weekend of September 14 at Melton Scout camp and phone numbers, emails and addresses were all exchanged.

Melton Camp Debrief

Most members of the team were able to attend this weekend. Items for discussion were to focus on the special needs session and the future of the team.

It was agreed that the team was to stay together as a multi county Scout and Guide Archery Team. It is to try and instruct at one major international camp each year and county and district camps where it was requested.

The special needs session was disseminated at great length as we had been fortunate enough to be able to video some of this. Video footage has proved to be a fantastic learning tool for us.

Other things that were agreed were the team structure, team uniform, training and code of conduct.
Our main hurdle at the moment is finance as at present each member is contributing an equal share of the cost for each event and there is no money coming in. If the team takes off as the members wish, then there needs to be some form of financing for new equipment, maintenance and repairs.

Rob Handley