Operation Frostbite Camp 2019

Great Tower, Lake District

On the last weekend of January, the 48th, 58th and 61st Scout troops had a joint camp known as Operation Frostbite. During our planning meetings we decided to push the boat out a bit with this camp and we hit upon holding it at Great Tower in the Lake District including an expedition hike and overnight stay in Millican Dalton’s cave further north at Grange.
So on the Friday evening we set off for the Lakes with a mini bus loaded with Scouts and two support vans loaded with kit and even more Scouts. Once we had set up camp, done battle with the rocky ground and re-straightened numerous bent tent pegs it was time for supper and bed.

The following morning after a hearty cooked breakfast the Scouts carried out various activities: they did fire lighting including axe and saw work and were shown how to prepare game for their evening meal “pheasant casserole”. Our camp vet, Hugh, was on hand to give a dissection demonstration which everyone found very interesting. The Explorers led groups orienteering around the camp site which helped the Scouts hone their navigational skills.

Saturday afternoon consisted of the most important activity of all “kit check”. Some of the leaders had the epic task of checking each Scout had the right kit and it was correctly packed into their back packs for the hike to the cave. As well as their kit all the Scouts had to carry their own breakfast and enough water for the journey there and back.
After the casserole it was time to get the wagon train rolling again and head to Grange, the starting point for our expedition. The hour or so drive had an unusual quietness about it. The Scouts possibly feeling a mixture of emotions: fear, excitement, expectation. Or was it the worry that they may have to use the second carrier bag in their back packs, and then have to carry the contents back down the mountain!!

The hike to the cave was not very far but it had a steep and rocky gradient. It was late at night and the inclement weather did not help matters. The teamwork from everyone was a joy to behold; from carrying other people’s kit to lighting the way for less confident Scouts and there were many words of encouragement and praise. Scouting is inclusive and open to anyone. All of the Scouts have differing abilities and it was inspiring to see the effort and determination shown by those less able and the support given to them by their peers. They were an inspiration to everyone.

When we entered the cave we could not believe what we saw. The cave was enormous, it could have easily held a group twice our size. Once the bivvi bags and bed rolls were unpacked it was time for bed. The cave soon fell silent as everyone tucked themselves in for the night. Maybe, like me, they thought for a while about Millican and how he had spent so much of his life there in such unexpected comfort. In fact it was so comfortable that it wasn’t long before the gentle sound of dripping water was drowned out by the mystery snorer.

Sunday morning was quite a relaxed time, there was no particular hurry to leave. We brewed up and heated our breakfasts using portable stoves, Kelly kettles and trangias. After packing our kit away and taking photographs we reluctantly had to leave. The daylight hike back to the vehicles allowed us to see the beauty of the area we had stayed in, from the huge snow-capped mountains rising above us to the fast flowing river keeping us company for most of our descent.

Once back at camp it was time for a quick lunch and then we packed away all the tents and kit. This is when a Scout leader faces their biggest challenge of the camp; helping Scouts get their sleeping bags back into the stuff sacks, desperately trying not to swear and asking the same question over and over again “Are you sure it came out of this thing?” (We should get a badge for this). With the vehicles loaded up and one final litter sweep of the site we were off and heading home, taking away our memories and leaving only foot prints.

I would like to thank: Keith and Phil, Hugh and Paul C, Paul H, Iain and Scott, and the Explorers who organised, ran and helped out with this camp. Our young people have had experiences and learned skills that they just would not get anywhere else other than in Scouting. “Skills for Life”. Well done everyone.
Quote of the camp “I was just lying there looking up and thinking “I’m in a cave!”” (said in a Glaswegian accent).
Leigh Walton. A.S.L. 58th Southport.