In 2001 we returned to the island site of 1994. This camp rivalled the Tisbury camp of 1990 for high temperatures, but there were also rainy interludes. This was to be Neil's last camp with us.
In 2002, failing for the first time ever to muster sufficient Scouts to make it possible for us to hold an independent camp, we approached 6th Hastings (Monday) Troop and were able to join their camp at Flash, near Buxton. This was back to the high hills, and the rain and clouds that go with them.
The camp was noteworthy for the number, quality and variety of activities which took place - visits to Hanley Water World, Alton Towers and Crich Tramway Museum, horse-riding, mountain biking and a long hike from Edale, over Kinder Scout and returning via Jacob's Ladder ensured that the Scouts who did want to go camping enjoyed themselves and were kept busy.
In 2003, we were thankfully able to resume normal service, and opted for the Christchurch District Campsite at Bransgore in the New Forest. It was a rather wet camp, but the activities provided at the site partly compensated for that. The boys were able to enjoy archery, and kayaking, and a day out mountain biking, nearly to Lyndhurst and back, along the woodland trail.
A visit to Splashdown at Poole also took place. For the first time, firepits not being allowed, we cooked on altar fires. The camp was notable for being Dave Thompson's 40th successive summer camp with the Troop.
2004 saw a return to Suffolk, our first visit to this part of the world since the Rendlesham camp of 1989. The 1st Bures Scout Group own an exceptionally attractive and well organized camp site at The Croft. We were blessed with good weather, and as the camp is right by the River Stour a lot of water activities, including kayaking, rafting and bridge building took place. Hiking and badge work also featured on the programme, and the boys had an afternoon in Sudbury to visit the leisure centre.
St. Ives in Cambridgeshire was the venue selected for 2005. This site was used by the Gilridge Troop in 1992, and the pictures looked really good. We weren't disappointed, as this is an ideal venue, especially for beginners, of whom we had a lot this year. Back to four Patrols for the first time since Brecon in 1996, and with a lot of youngsters fresh up from Cubs, a lot of basic skills needed to be learnt. This didn't stop us from going sailing, kayaking, cycling, etc., but coping with the very mixed weather was an experience we would have liked to postpone for another time.
By popular demand we returned to Bures in 2006, and once again enjoyed the almost limitless opportunities for water activities. Under Dave Rogers's supervision some excellent rafts were built, which did not collapse as soon as they were placed in the water - or indeed, at all - and a lookout tower appeared in an amazingly short time. An ambitious assault course completed the pioneering programme. Kayaking also took place on the river, and air-rifle shooting was organized for us by the 1st Bures GSL. Some excellent cooking produced some really tasty meals in the Patrols. We were fortunate to have the help of Akela, Acorn Clayton, for several days, and were visited by Sam White, a former Scout/Venture Scout for the last few days of camp.
The centenary year saw us back in Suffolk, this time at Boxford Spinney. This was a very last-minute arrangement, as flooding at Gloucester forced us to cancel our planned return to Cranham.
We were blessed with much good weather, and were fortunate to have the services once again of Dave Rogers and also Chris Pelling, who previously camped as a Scout in 1972 and 73, and brought along his wife Tracey as well as their two sons. Grahame Jordan also came to help.
In 2008 we decided to head in a new direction, and made for the West Midlands. Rhydd Covert is right next door to the West Midlands Safari Park, almost exactly 200 miles from home. The area is wooded, but camp sites have been made in clearings. There was once again plenty to do. The site offers a magnificent climbing tower with facilities for abseiling and traversing as well as four colour coded climbing routes; crate stacking, archery, air rifles, and a water slide provided much amusement, while off site there was kayaking both on the Severn and at Hallow on a lake, and rock climbing at Symonds Yat. The weather was hot and sunny to start with, but a thunderstorm, accompanied by a tremendous downpour, ushered in an unsettled period for the second half of camp.
At Cranham we had to contend with disappointing weather throughout. Showers were followed by rain, which in turn was succeeded by more showers, and so on. In parts the field degenerated into mud, and we had to dig a network of drainage channels and resort to liberal use of wood chips and sawdust.
By contrast, the 2010 camp was blessed with good weather and favourable conditions. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that it rained at the end of camp, and we had to strike all the tents wet. Thorrington Scout Camp offers a large range of activities and we managed to enjoy most of them - 3D Maze, zip wire, crate stacking, climbing and abseiling tower, pedal karts, raft building, etc. The Top Field is an ideal location, reached via a track over a stream and up a hill for about 100 yards, which gave the opportunity to use our trek cart in earnest for the first time for a good many years. A smaller camp than last year, but a very happy one.