Surrey Explorer Scouts head off to Belgium
When the summer sun beckoned, a unit of 40 enthusiastic Explorer Scouts, plus 4 adult leaders answered the call of adventure and set off on an extraordinary journey to De Kluis in Belgium. The promise of new experiences, cultural exploration, and the great outdoors awaited us in this captivating destination.
As we arrived at De Kluis, a twist awaited us: the weather, unpredictable as always, decided to throw us a curveball. Rain poured and winds howled, but our spirits remained undaunted. Armed with rain gear and unwavering determination, we set up camp with a sense of camaraderie that only adversity can foster. This unexpected challenge became the backdrop for some of our most memorable moments.
Undeterred by the gloomy weather, we plu
nged into our packed programme of adventure. A high ropes course in the dramatic Ardennes Forest turned into an exhilarating test of our resilience. Mud-splattered trails and slippery slopes added an extra layer of excitement to our explorations. The scent of damp earth mingled with the thrill of conquering each new summit, reminding us that true adventure embraces every element.
Our trip wasn’t just about surviving the elements; it was about embracing the culture of Belgium. In between rain showers, we ventured into nearby towns such as Leuven, Bruges and even Brussels discovering bustling markets where vibrant umbrellas popped against the grey backdrop. Somewhat over-Indulging in decadent Belgian chocolates took on a new charm as we sought shelter from sudden downpours. The weather held and allowed us the opportunity of river cruise through Bruges, and a few days later the Explorers even conducted a full tour of all the ‘peeing’ statues found in Brussels. The culture of this land became a beacon of warmth during the rain!
While the weather may have been tempestuous, it only served to unite our group further. The challenges we faced became anecdotes that we’ll laugh about for years to come. Even the simple act of working together to keep our campsite dry became a lesson in teamwork and resourcefulness.
Amidst the rain and adventure, one of the most poignant moments of our journey occurred during a visit to the Menin Gate in Ypres. After a day of travelling the WW1 battlefields from Tyne Cot Cemetery to Passchendaele we headed into Ypres. In a solemn wreath-laying ceremony, we paid tribute to the fallen soldiers who had sacrificed their lives during World War I. The sound of the bugle playing the Last Post echoed through the misty evening, a haunting reminder of the sacrifices made for freedom. This solemn ceremony served as a humbling reminder of the historical significance of the places we were exploring. We were very proud of Catherine, Matthew, and Jess for laying the wreath on behalf of us.
As our time at De Kluis unfolded, we realized that the scout adventure wasn’t just about the destination – it was about the journey and the unexpected twists that made it unforgettable. The stormy weather became a metaphor for life’s surprises, teaching us to adapt, overcome, and cherish even the rain-soaked moments.
Our scout trip to De Kluis wasn’t the sunny escapade we envisioned, but it was something more: a test of character, a celebration of resilience, and a reminder that the most profound memories are often crafted in the face of adversity. For those seeking a scout journey that defies expectations and embraces the unexpected, De Kluis beckons with its promise of transformational experiences – rain or shine.
Our thanks go to Romy, Claire, and Tom who without this, the trip wouldn’t have been possible, I will also use this opportunity to thank them for their patience when their leader in charge had a broken foot and spent the week hobbling around on crutches!
Check out the gallery HERE
Robin Beeson – Belgium Trip Leader