For many years, Venture Abroad has been passionate about working to enrich the international travel experiences of Scout and Guide groups.
So what better way to find out the real benefits groups are getting from international travel with Venture Abroad than by talking to the Party Leaders themselves?
It was great to catch up with Brian Hobden, Party Leader of Royal Tunbridge Wells Scouts, to find out about his group’s international adventure in Kandersteg, Switzerland last summer.
What inspired you to take your group on an international adventure?
“We often speak to our members about Scouts being part of the worldwide family of scouts, and that’s as far as it goes. Apart from the Jamboree selection event every four years, when we select two young people to represent the District at the next World Scout Jamboree and disappoint several other unsuccessful candidates, international scouting does not really feature in any significant way. It was after a Jamboree selection event that we decided we needed to offer International Scouting for all – but where to start?”
Why did you choose to contact a trip operator?
“As with many other organisations, our volunteers are busy people, often having two or more roles in Scouting as well as being involved in other organisations, not to mention employment and family lives.
It quickly became clear that organising an International trip for a large number of people was a difficult task, and one none of us wanted to take it on. After a little research, we contacted Venture Abroad – they really took the headache out of the organisation of the trip.”
What did you want the group to get out of an international trip?
“A true international experience where our young people could mix with Scouts from other countries, experience adventure that is not possible in the UK and see a different part of the world – a Scouting Adventure.”
It seems it didn’t take long for Royal Tunbridge Wells Scouts to get involved in camp life: Brian explained how, within a few hours, the group were playing with scouts from across Europe – the international language being football!
How did you find the organisation in the lead up to your trip?
“Venture Abroad quickly identified Kandersteg International Scout Camp as an ideal location. After a bit more research, it was evident that lots of groups undertake their own planning and organisation to attend Kandersteg from the UK, but we simply did not have the time. We need not have worried – Venture Abroad to the rescue!
In a nutshell, VA took care of everything. All the travel arrangements, catering and equipment sorted, all we had to do was gather the numbers and organise payments – and VA helped there too, providing an easy-to-use presentation which we were able to adapt for our needs, to show young people and their parents the plans for the event.”
How did you find the support out in Kandersteg?
“We were greeted by the VA Rep on site, our tents were ready, and so was lunch – we were the envy of other groups who had done it themselves, who then had to pitch tents and organise food. Our rep, Lewis, spent time with the leadership team explaining the site and showing us round. Everything was so easy.
Lewis remained on-call throughout the whole week, accompanied us on some trips, such as the trip to the Jungfraucjoch where some of the train changes may have been a little complex with a party size of 51, and provided lots of useful advice throughout. When one of our members needed hospital treatment (nothing serious thankfully) Lewis was again on hand and accompanied us to the hospital to ensure we found it OK.”
How would you sum up your experience?
”From my perspective, the trip was an outstanding success. A number of young people have stayed members of Scouting and are now progressing into leadership roles purely as a result of the trip.
Having completed the experience with Venture Abroad, would I be tempted to go it alone next time? No! The first thing we did when we got back was book for four years’ time.
It was an international experience to remember, which for us was only possible with the help and expertise of Venture Abroad.”
What it’s all about…
51 young people witnessed first-hand the international element of Scouting, truly understanding the meaning behind the words: A Scout belongs to the world-wide family of Scouts. They overcame challenges that they never would have experienced in the UK, including a challenging hike in the Alps which many were hesitant to complete but after doing so, described it as “the best thing in their life”.
If you would like to find out more about our international opportunities and give your group the adventure of a lifetime, visit our website or call the team on 01332 342 050.