ANDREW Clough and Andrew Scott spoke to Morpeth Rotary Club members about a Scouts international challenge camp in the Crimea region of Ukraine.
They were in a party of 12 Morpeth Explorer Scouts, partly sponsored by an outdoor clothing company, but with some sponsorship from Morpeth Rotary as well.
The 10-day expedition included 30 hours of walking, tests of self sufficiency, diary keeping, carrying out a major project, setting and living on a budget, undertaking a food hygiene course and learning some Ukrainian.
They worked towards an Explorer Challenge belt and the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award. Pre-training had been arranged at Hawkhill Scout Centre at Kielder with lots of map reading that later would be invaluable.
Those taking part had to be at Newcastle Airport for 3am for a KLM flight to Amsterdam and there was then a change of plane to fly to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
At the railway station they boarded a posh, but cramped, super-train to Sevastopol in the Crimea. This is the base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet and it also has a 3D panorama of the Crimean War, a large memorial for the dead of two World Wars and a palace with a historic cemetery.
It was very hot so it was a relief to visit two villages made up of cave houses with a church carved into the rock. They had a lot of Ukrainian food, mainly with cabbage and rice.
The first campsite was in a landscape of mountain plateaus and rivers where there was much use of horses.
It was again very hot, but luckily had lots of cooling water to jump into. There were regular challenges to achieve and days of long walks where sometimes no one seemed to know the way.
One challenge was to find overgrown trig points, as in Ordnance Survey, but many had been damaged or stolen. Over several campsites and changes of scenery they included time at the ‘Grand Canyon’ of the Crimea and the ‘Pool of Everlasting Youth’.
After all of the walks, there were activities such as shooting, card games and a volleyball match against Ukraine Scouts at the Kazak Camp.
From there it was a long, steep cable car ride down to the town of Yalta for a three-night stay with a local family.
There were more visits to places of interest, including Eastern Orthodox cupola domed churches, and local challenges working in children’s centres. At Balaclava, they visited the sports hall and the Cold War Soviet nuclear submarine base and underground store for radioactive material. The Soviet maps of the area had been changed so that the site did not appear to exist.
Back at Kiev, they had time to see the gold domed churches and the great war memorial.
The two Andrews wished to thank their support team, including Laura Armstrong from Morpeth who was also at the talk.
They had learned a lot, given many presentations, experienced many life skills, won a challenge belt and gained lots of material for their CVs.