What a year 2021 has been with the impact of the pandemic on us all. Personal lives, jobs and hobbies plus friends and families have all been affected in some way.

Although the pandemic continues, it’s been great to finally see Young People again enjoying the site and its activities, albeit only for 6 months of the year. Hopefully 2022 will see us settling into the new normal, whatever that looks like.

For the first half of the year, the site remained closed, in line with Scout Association guidelines. We eventually managed to open in the early summer, for evening and weekend bookings, for use of the main field, jungle trail and campfire circle. This proved invaluable for many local Groups, providing outdoor space for their members to just enjoy being outside again. A big thank you to our volunteer staff and committee for jumping through the many necessary hoops that allowed us to open. We also managed to hold a face to face AGM, together with my postponed “Meet the new Chairman” event.

After a change in Scouting status, we finally welcomed our first residential visitors in the summer, albeit with limitations on group sizes. A very welcome sight for all, our first campers for 18 months.

Come September, bookings were plentiful, as some form of normality returned to Scouting. Buildings and activities were well used. Our staff rose to the challenge, and enjoyed looking after our visitors. Thank you all.

Despite the site being closed, our volunteers have been busy, doing the regular maintenance tasks needed to keep the site at it’s best. With no campers, the main field has been harrowed and regularly mowed (well it was until someone had a mishap with the tractor mower and a fence post!!), fences repaired, the Clarke Hut redecoration has been completed and the curtains replaced, electrics tested and repaired, buildings deep cleaned plus many other jobs. The much loved corner seat in the Mervyn Walters staff building has been reupholstered and now has matching cushions, and the main access road has been repaired. There is rarely an idle moment. We also enlist help from Explorers where possible, and are keen to continue to do so.

Behind the scenes, things are already happening on new developments, activities and ideas for 2022. Staff have made a start in converting the old unused showers into washing up points for our D of E campers, ideas are well advanced for a new activity and there are plans to improve the gents toilet block. As a result of very careful and diligent management of finances, we are in a position to be able to reinvest back into the site.

One of our main challenges for 2022 is to recruit more people to become involved with the site. We’re fortunate to have a group of very dedicated supporters, but over time, this number is reducing (and many of us are not getting any younger!). We can use whatever time people can give to us. Could I ask you all to spread the word, sell the site and let us know of any interests, so we can follow up. As an idea, are there any, or do you know of any retired scouters, that fancy forming and joining a mid-week maintenance team? I know we can supply plenty of tea and biscuits to keep you going, and you would get to enjoy the site and make new friendships.

Finally, to all those of you that have or continue to give your time and support to the campsite, a big thank you and I hope to see you all in the New Year, ready for the new season.

I hope you and your families have a great Christmas and New Year.

Phil

Oaks Chair

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