As is tradition for HSX, December saw the group once again converge on Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre for our annual Christmas celebrations.
Saturday morning saw participants divide into 6 teams for the adventure race, a 3 hour orienteering race across the New Forest with teams trying to gain as many points as possible. This year the race was “expertly” organised by Andy Humphreys, Josh Hicks and Alan Braithwaite, who had promised us a slightly different event from years gone by. One by one the teams converged at the back of the Mountbatten Lodge for the 10:00 start time for the race, provided with map for each pair, and given a quick briefing. Unlike previous years, we were told the finish of the race wasn’t to be as simple as expected, with the finish line being at Ferny Crofts legendary Assault Course!
At 10:00 the klaxon sounded and the teams dispersed, each heading in different directions, depending on their chosen route choice. The routes were incredibly varied this year, and unlike in previous years, it didn’t seem possible to get around the entire course within the allotted time, so route strategy would prove criterial to gain maximum points (and more importantly avoid the dreaded 2nd place!!!).
Around 13:00 the teams began arriving at the assault course, absolutely cream cracked after the last few hours’ exertion, only to be told we weren’t finished yet… Brilliant! One by one we were briefed that the finial element to the race would involve a timed circuit of the course in our teams, with 30 points available for the fastest time, 20 points for 2nd place and 10 points for the 3rd fastest time. Having put in a good shift in the run, we all knew it would be important to dig deep for one last push… easier said than done, when you’ve already covered around 15miles!!!
Upon completing our laps, we each headed back to the Lodge for a cup of tea, chow down some lunch and thaw out with a ‘warm shower’… well Ferny Crofts version of a warm shower!
The afternoon was passed comparing routes, fixing tents from stores, decorating the hall and preparing dinner… a 4 course banquet!
In the late afternoon the numbers swelled, as we were joined by more HSX members as well as special guests. As the atmosphere grew we were invited to take our seats, and one by one the courses were served. The evening was spent catching up with friends, swapping stories, and more importantly conceiving plans for adventures in 2015 and beyond! After dinner, our illustrious leader MC Kinger took to the stage for the usual Karaoke, which continued late into the night… and well into Sunday morning!!!
After a monumental tidy up on Sunday morning, we all gather for the HSX Christmas forum… our annual meeting to reflect on the achievements of the last 12 months, inform the group of the progress made behind the scene and our plans for the up-coming year! Towards the end of the forums we had presentations from Steve Knaggs on a sport climbing trip to Kalymnos in 2015, Bakewell launch his plans for the 2016 expedition to Cambodia and Oliver Robinson also provided an update on the progress of the HSX Antarctica team. The forum also saw Chris Slater outline his plans for an expedition to Patagonia, planned for December 2017.
With much excitement and anticipation for the year ahead the forum closed, groups broke up for quick discussions on differing aspects brought up in the meeting. After lunch and tidying the hall we parted on our merry ways, excited for what lay ahead.
I’d like to take this opportunity for wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all the best for your adventures in 2015… whatever shape or size they may take!
Yours in Scouting