The Norwegian guilds play an important task in supporting the Norwegian guides and scouts at “Camp Villmark”, a big outdoor-equipment trade fair that is held in the large exhibition hall in the town of Lillestrøm, near Oslo. Back in 2016, the trade fair management offered the Norwegian Guide and Scout Association (NGSA) an exhibition area free of charge, in which to present scouting activities.
NGSA realised that this would be an excellent opportunity to promote scouting, and as of 2017, “Barnas Camp Villmark” (Children’s Wilderness Camp) has been part of the event. The local guides and scouts – mostly rovers, rangers and scout leaders – offer children visiting the trade fair an opportunity to try scouting activities, such as cutting wood, splitting wood, building a wood fire (but not lighting it, due to the fire hazard), making an “insect hotel”, administering artificial respiration etc. The most popular activity is canoeing in the huge plastic-wall pool adjacent to the scout camp, which is offered when at least five other activities have been attended.
Although there is an entrance fee to the trade fair itself, there is no extra fee for trying the scouting activities, and the event is a great success. This year, NGSA invited the country’s second guide and scout association, the YWCA/YMCA guides and scouts, making it a joint effort. This was a wise decision, not at least because the number of children visiting the camp reached a record number of more than 2000. As usual, all of them left the camp with a large smile on their face and a card full of stickers that demonstrated which activities they had tried. (One or two also had at piece on sticking plaster on their hand, but considered that a valuable lesson from learning how to use a knife).
Already in 2016, the local guide and scouts realised that they would not have capacity to provide both a sufficient staff of instructors and the people to prepare the necessary staff food. They therefore invited the St. George’s Guilds of Norway (SGGN) to operate the in-house kitchen and prepare and serve the meals. SGGN gladly accepted the invitation, and since then, Guild members have staffed the kitchen and the adjacent dining room – and also provided extra instructors when the queues of eager children became too long.
Not only is this activity very enjoyable, but we consider the close cooperation with our two guide and scout associations an important element in our efforts for future recruitment – an issue that is becoming increasingly important.
(Text: Knut Jorde, Photos: Ivan Chetwynd)