Friday 26/07/2019: Travel
The Scouts arrived at LV community hall at around 22:30hrs for a final meeting and summary of the journey, campsite and activities they would be doing in Holland. We efficiently loaded the coach with our bags and took on-board rucksacks containing breakfast, lunch and any other food we wanted for the journey.
We finally left at 23:30hrs, boarding the bus, saying goodbye to parents and waving farewell to Bicester.
After around three hours travelling in the night, the coach stopped at a village to pick up the Guides from a school. Fortunately for them, they could have slept before they came to their meeting point as it was then 01:00hrs in the morning.
Saturday 27/07/2019: Arrival
Just before dawn, the coach stopped at a service station so the Scouts and Guides could go to the toilet (still in Great Britain), then at 05.15hrs we boarded the Eurotunnel to cross the channel; this made the bus bounce around a lot and some people (Scouts, Guides and Leaders) fell asleep during the crossing.
We arrived in France then crossed into Belgium before the coach stopped for breakfast. From there, it was a 4 hour drive to Buitenzorg in the Netherlands.
We arrived around 12:30hrs, unloading our bags and then let on the Scouts, who were going home packed and ready to leave the site. We picked tents to sleep in, and who slept where. A delivery van then arrived with food from a supermarket called Jumbo (Dutch equivalent of Tesco). After the long drive, the Scouts had a nourishing lunch to re-charge their batteries.
We then had a walk around the town of Baarn, seeing the ornate train station and the clean and modern town centre.
Afterwards, we had dinner and washed up just as it started to thunder and rain. For the rest of the evening, the Scouts played card games. We then went to our tents for bed – travel weary but with a sense of excitement of what was to come.
Sunday 28/07/2019: Photohike, swim and golf
It was an early start for the Scouts, as we looked forward to our first full day! We had breakfast and then went straight to a photo hike. This consisted of 5 groups of four, each having one leader. We were given a map of the town and a set of pictures in order of where we should go. The groups left at 5 minute intervals so there would be no collisions! There was a clear route. However (not the fault of anyone), some of the places where the pictures were taken had changed over time. So some groups got lost and needed help. However, everyone managed to succeed and got back to the camp site.
We then had lunch after the hike, eating some tasty sandwiches and crisps. Next, we took a walk to a local outdoor swimming pool where the Scouts and leaders swam in the pools, diving and playing with a ball.
Afterwards, we got dry and had a game of mini golf next to the pool, which had courses with various obstacles and mechanisms. The winner was undecided thanks to some dubious scoring!
After an enjoyable afternoon, we came back for a Chinese dinner cooked by the boys and then some table games the leaders had brought with them. After a jam-packed and excited day, the group fell asleep before the clock struck eleven.
Monday 29/07/2019: Geocaching and cycle to Spakenburg
We woke up to a cooked breakfast of eggy or fried bread and an option of juices and then divided into four groups to go geocaching around the campsite. This involved getting electric GPS’s to plot co-ordinates around the site then finding them. The destination would have the next co-ordinate on a metal plate which would then lead to the next destination. On the first co-ordinate destination, everyone ended up in the same place but could not find the metal plate. After around 20 minutes, Edward A went to ask Richard (the site manager) for help, and he came and revealed the metal plate, which was hidden inside a tree trunk!
The following plates were easier to find, however on the fourth one all the Scouts and the leaders couldn’t find the plate; after 30 minutes we finally surrendered. (Later Mr. T and Jim went and found the plate which was inside a log storage hut, hidden in a box!).
Following the geocaching, the Scouts got bikes from the main site and cycled across the flat Dutch landscape to a town near the large river. At the town, each group were given €25 to spend on a lunch which they could go around in their groups and buy. Some went to the well-known Lidl, others to Jumbo and the rest spread across the High Street. After acquiring our lunch (which was either healthy or unhealthy!), we cycled to the nearby beach and ate. We also had some time to paddle in the water which was great!
We biked back to the campsite via a windmill for a meal of well-earned spicy sausage and pasta made by the scouts. We ate in the mess tent and then played a wide game involving running around in the forest and playing tag. After an exhausting day, some boys had showers and others went straight to bed, remembering to brush their teeth!
Tuesday 30/07/2019: Amsterdam
The boys and adults woke up very early for a quick breakfast and to pack their day sacks to go to Amsterdam. We left for the station at 09:00hrs and boarded a sprinter train from Baarn to the capital.
Central Station was like London Marylebone, although it was larger and the outside more decorative. We split into the same four groups and, accompanied by an adult, wandered around the areas near the station weaving through the busy streets of locals and tourists, looking at all the old and new buildings and taking in the Dutch atmosphere.
After an hour or so, we all met up and then started to walk to the port to board a ferryboat. We walked through Dam Square and past Madam Tussauds to the shuttle docks where we boarded a free ferry that goes across the main river to a district of Amsterdam separated from the rest.
From there, we walked to the pancake boat. Our group was given an area of the boat and we sailed up and down the river for 75 minutes. Some Scouts said they were going to eat 10 or 20 or 30 pancakes, however most only ate 1 or 2!
Arriving back to the port, we then went on the shuttle boat and travelled last minute by tram to the Anne Frank Museum. The Scouts were introduced to the events that occurred in the house and how the family and their friends stayed hidden for so long before eventually being discovered. We then toured around the house; all the areas and rooms used as hiding places and the ones which were not. The Scouts greatly respected the house and the events which took place there.
Following this, we were treated to a McDonald’s dinner in the capital and then visited various souvenir shops (which was an interesting experience).The Scouts had chance to buy some excellent things to take home with them. We hiked back to the station and boarded the train home to Baarn. After 12 hours of walking and being in the continental sun, we arrived at the campsite for a wash and a well needed sleep.
Wednesday 31/07/2019: Military Museum
Well-rested, the Scouts got up for a cereal breakfast that would be well-needed later, as we were later cycling to the National Military Museum. Starting at 09:30hrs we cycled using the well-made cycle lanes to a small restaurant where the Scouts and leaders were treated to a traditional pancake at around noon. The route went off the cycle lanes and on to rough ground, the rest of the way going up and down hill, eventually arriving at the museum at 13:30hrs.
We were allowed to split up into small groups of whomever we chose, to explore the museum. The building was a large modern multi-storey facility that housed huge planes and machines used by the Netherlands, the Soviet Union and many other countries utilised in a variety of conflicts.
It also had various exhibitions about Holland’s rich military history, all of which the Scouts explored for a few hours.
We then came back to the front desk to eat our packed lunches. After finishing lunch, the Scouts cycled back to the campsite, the older Scouts cycled ahead with Jim to make it back before the owner of the bikes arrived to collect them. During the cycling to and from the museum it had rained heavily; however due to the sun and wind we were almost dry by dinner. For the rest of the evening, we played games in the mess tent and then had warm long showers, before going into our tents for the night.
Thursday 01/08/2019: On site and swimming
Following the bike ride, the Scouts had a leisurely start to the morning, as we didn’t need to be up for anything. We had a cereal breakfast in the tent, then we split up into older and marginally older, and younger Scouts.
The older group of Scouts did clog painting first while the others did archery. After lunch, we swapped over. The painting done by the Scouts and leaders was excellent and had a variety of styles and themes, while many of the boys had impressive archery skills.
After lunch, the sun came out so we decided that we would like to go back to the Bosbad for a swim. The water was a bit colder than it had been on Sunday but we all had a great time jumping off the springboards and playing with our friends. We then walked through the forest and back to the campsite, chatting with our mates and looking at the frogs and a huge ant’s nest!
Whilst the spaghetti Bolognese dinner was prepared by the Scouts on duty, the rest of us played games. That evening, Jim led a game of non-stop-cricket which the German Guides came to watch. We played further games until nightfall, and then retired to our tents, sleeping through a rain storm
Friday 02/08/2019: Utrecht
For our final full day, we woke up promptly to have a quick breakfast and pack a day’s lunch, we then walked to Baarn train station to catch a train to the city of Utrecht.
When we arrived, the first thing we noticed was how modern and clean the city was and the architecture of the city’s station and buildings. However, walking further into the grand city it became more apparent that the city was a lot older; as we went through the 14th century Dom tower the ancient areas of the city.
We split off into the same 4 groups and were given time to walk around the streets near Dom Tower, admiring the rivers and canals that connected the city but also the antique buildings. We met back at the Dom Tower for lunch and then went souvenir shopping and to absorb the atmosphere.
It was then time to walk back to the main station.
We then walked for a while alongside the river to Kartfabrique. Firstly, we did a crystal maze/puzzle solving game where we got into groups and had to do various challenges in over 30 rooms to earn points. Some of the tasks included: the floor is lava, climbing ropes and mental puzzles!
We then had a game of laser tag, everyone getting their own individual scores printed out!
After doing both of these exhilarating activities the Scouts had drinks at the Kartfabrique restaurant before boarding a train back to Baarn.
As a final treat, we had dinner at the Peterhof restaurant in Baarn, where we had a choice of burgers, meatballs, schnitzel or kebab, followed by an ice cream which all the Scouts seemed to enjoy!
After walking back to Buitenzorg, some of us played games in the mess tent, while others talked to the Guides at the camp fire. Eventually, everyone fell asleep.
Saturday 03/08/2019: Packing up for home!
Everyone on the Scout and Guides site woke up early and had a cooked breakfast. Following this, we started packing bags, clearing out tents and cleaning them, having final washes and making lunches.
At 11:00hrs we were all given our Dutch woggles which we’d picked from the site shop, and had our pictures taken with the site leaders Richard, Inga, their son Dimitri and then with the Guides. We also said farewell to Rory and Finn.
After the coach arrived and emptied new campers, the Scouts and Guides loaded our bags and then boarded the bus. We thanked the site leaders and the coach set off. It stopped in Belgium around 3 hours later for a toilet stop and lunch. Most Scouts bought a Burger King and some drinks and then another 3 hours later crossed through France.
Arriving at the Channel tunnel, we showed our passports and said goodbye to mainland Europe before welcoming the UK.
After more hours of driving, lots of films and another service station stop, the coach (now in the dark) dropped the Guides back to their home village and the Scouts said their goodbyes to them. Two hours and thirty minutes later we arrived back in Bicester.
Throughout the journey, we managed to watch 4 films whilst crossing through 4 countries in Europe. Everyone was pleased to be back in Bicester, but greatly adored their time in Holland.
A big thank you to Mr.T, Rama, Jim, Rosie, Inga, Richard, Dimitri, Abbie, the various bus drivers, the rest of the leaders at the camp site, the parents and the many others who were involved in the trip from all the Scouts and everyone, for making it a memorable, fun, exciting, adventurous, and exuberant trip that will be forever in the 1st Langford Village Scout Group’s history.
Elliott – August 2019