18 scouts, 9 leaders and parent helpers from the Old School Rooms Troop of 1st Stoke Gifford OSR Scouts have recently been on Easter holidays Camp to Cyprus to revisit the 48th Dhekelia Scout Group and make new friends and learn a little about the differences in the 2 countries scouting.
The troops previously met up in 2013 after a few years of swapping troop magazines and emails.
This time the scouts travelled to Birmingham airport to make the four and a half hour flight to the island. This part of the journey took a couple of hours and the excitement in the coach was electric. Once at the airport and through the checkin and security there was some time to relax before boarding the Jet2 plane. The flight was again exciting as many of the party hadn’t flown before, the time went by quickly with food and lots of chatting. At Larnaca after bags were collected from the carousel it was onto a local coach and off to the scout campsite at dhekelia and meeting with the 48th scout troop leaders before bed.
The next morning was an early one as the excitement to see where we were and what we were going to be doing was almost making the scouts burst. All our meals were supplied by the British Army camp restaurant this giving us more time to enjoy ourselves. Then orientation of the site and local facilities plus of course meeting the local scouts. The rest of the day was spent getting to know one another and sorting our equipment.
The second day was not so early with a trip to the Trudos mountains and a monastery, we had our packed lunch at the top of Mount Olympus some 6,000 feet above sea level where the Temperature was about 17 degrees cooler than at the campsite and snow was all over the ground. During the coach journey we had chance to see some of the island. Talking about temperature in Cyprus it was a comfortable 22 degrees Centigrade.
The next day we visited the ancient capital city of Salamis where we went through the green zone and crossed the border into Northern Cyprus controlled by the Turkish Cypriots . We went to Famagusta beach front to see the ghost town which was evacuated during the invasion by Turkish forces. The hotels are all bombed out and deserted. Then onto the main town for sightseeing and shopping for souvenirs and of course an ice cream after an hour or two it was back through the border back to the Greek territory and an evening hike to a local military cemetery and memorial to pay our respects and read some of the many child and baby graves which were the result of deaths in the Army Camp hospital.
On the Wednesday it was another early start with the whole troop travelling to Fig tree bay at Paralimni half going sightseeing and the others going Scuba Diving with a PADI dive school. After a lesson in safety and diving protocols there was a quick written test and then we kitted up and went to a local bay to scuba dive in the Mediterranean Sea. What a fantastic time as we saw hundreds of fish feeding them with bread rolls. The groups swapped over after lunch and then travelled back to the campsite for dinner. Big Thank You to the Taba dive school staff for giving us such a fantastic experience also the free underwater photos and videos were a bonus. That evening was a film night with popcorn and fizzy drinks.
The forth day we built three rafts which we intended to race around in the beautiful Bay Area in front of the campsite but it was a little rough and so we strapped 2 rafts together and did time trials instead. That evening we set the scouts challenges in 3 bases which included problem solving, pioneering and skill which needed them to communicate well and work well as a team!
On the Friday we woke especially early to go fishing and crabbing with some success then during flag break we invested into the troop our newest member Evie a ceremony we are sure she will never forget especially in such a beautiful location ts took part in an Easter Egg Hunt and later we all attended the local beach, having taken the remaining litter picking bags and boxes of disposable gloves from our litter pick in Stoke Gifford, with the intention of doing a beach clean to payback to the community. This all following a great inspirational talk last year from Anne Baker a member of the UK Exxpedition Challenge re plastics in the ocean. The scouts really wanted to help the environment with a beach clean and the weather was great and what a fantastic place to do it we were joined by some of the 48th Dhekelia scout troop leaders and as a reward for all our hard work we visited an air conditioned bowling alley for a few hours and the local scouts joined us and then camped overnight and of course no camp would be the same without a camp fire plus sketches jointly with the dhekelia troop which was terrific, learning new songs and making smores which we swilled down with hot chocolate.
Our final day was sad as we were leaving new friends and a wonderful campsite. We decamped and after lunch re-ran the skills base activities hoping the dhekelia scouts would improve the results. We had dinner and after flag down and a short presentation where we added to our 2013 plaque we said our goodbyes leaving for the airport and getting back to Birmingham in the early hours. The trip back was definitely different to the outbound one and when we reached the Old School Rooms for parents to collect us although we were all glad to see loved ones all we wanted was our beds.
What a fantastic camp again!
Lots of people made this happen and without the leaders and parent helpers giving up their time to support us it would never have come to fruition. The scouts paid for the flights to and from Cyprus but all the activities and trips were paid for by a lot of hard work fundraising since the last camp and that will start all over again for a future return camp as soon as the new Summer term begins.