Scouts: The Ultimate Alpine Adventure

posted 30 Jun 2013, 14:34 by Stephen Harrison

Awesome activities, fantastic new friendships and stunning alpine scenery, were highlights of the week as 108 scouts and adult leaders from the Houghton-Le-Spring District enjoyed an amazing Alpine Adventure in Morillon, France.

The event brought together young people from across the scout district and challenged them to push their boundaries to overcome their fears, to work together to support each other and most importantly to have a great time. This year was the biggest event ever and the increase in participants reflects the growth in young people and adults enjoying scouting in Houghton-Le-Spring district.

The 8 days abroad were certainly action packed and this year’s trip included many memorable moments. Young people stayed a night in a mountain refuge and after a tough climb through snow to the hut were able to take in some fantastic Alpine views, girls and boys supporting each other all the way. For many scouts, via Ferrata was one of the biggest challenges - traversing a cliff face hundreds of metres up is not for the faint hearted (even when you’re clipped on)!

Daniel Haughan, (11) from Washington said,

“My favourite moment was the cable car to the Aguille Du Midi and the Chamonix Luge! It was freezing at the top, but I enjoyed seeing the clouds clear to open up a view of Mont Blanc. The luge was wicked and I had a blast!”

Another highlight was white water rafting, an exciting rush of adrenalin as scouts teamed up to paddle furiously down the raging rapids, avoiding the rocks. Scouts also enjoyed some Alpine views from the Aguille Du Midi, the cable car took us well above the clouds.

Andrew Turnbull, (41), an adult volunteer from Washington, who enjoyed his first European Adventure this year said,

“Rafting was my highlight of the week - tremendous fun! Scouts worked really well together to paddle the course, in fact I’ve had one of the best weeks of my life and I’d encourage others to support scouting as an adult volunteer.”

The week for most scouts was a journey of self discovery as scouts learned how they contribute to the group, how they can support and inspire others and how they can meet their own personal potential. Many scouts signed up for the trip knowing only a few others from their own group, but by the end of the week, everyone left with new friends.

The weeklong adventure wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a large team of adult volunteers who brought unrivalled enthusiasm and commitment to the event. The thorough planning ensured the success of the week. To find out how you can join our growing adult team, please visit.

Houghton-Le-Spring District is one of the largest districts in Durham Scout County. The district has recently opened a new group to cope with the growing demand for scouting in the area and now supports 7 groups to offer adventure and challenge to over 750 young people aged 6 to 18. For more information about Scouting in Washington and Houghton-Le-Spring, please visit or call 0845 300 1818.

New Group Opens in West of Washington

posted 30 Jun 2013, 14:31 by Stephen Harrison

  • 5 new volunteers have enabled Houghton-Le-Spring Scouts to open the new group at Lambton Primary School Washington
  • Initially the group has opened a beaver colony with 16 members who will be invested (make the beaver scout promise) on the evening of the 23rd May in a ceremony at Lumley Castle.
  • The group has ambitious plans to open a cub pack and scout troop within 6 months.
  • Members of the press are invited to attend this special event at Lumley Castle, on the 23rd May 2013 at 6pm in the Baron’s Hall.

23rd May 2013: Houghton-Le-Spring is today celebrating the launch of a new scout group, the first time a new group has launched in the area in 30 years. 16 beaver scouts will make their beaver scout promise and enjoy a magical Harry Potter programme night at Lumley Castle. The 16 beavers will be the first members of the beaver colony and of the new group.

Proud parents of the 16 beavers will watch their child making their beaver scout promise and receive their group necker in a very unique location in the Barons Hall at Lumley Castle.  The neckers show that beavers are a member of 4th Washington and by making their promise, they become a member of the worldwide family of scouting. Invited guests including local councillors, teachers from Lambton Primary School and local members of the community will be attending the event as supporters of the group.

The colony is the first section to be opened by 4th Washington Scouts and is based in the west of Washington. The colony gives more children in the area the chance to make friends, play games, go on visits and help others.

Since their first night in April, beavers have already found out what it means to be a beaver scout, visited the local fire station, learned about the emergency services and enjoyed a Lambton Worm themed adventure. In the next few months, beaver scouts can expect a new adventure every week including attending a “sleepover”, an amazing first night away from home.

The group meet every Thursday at Lambton Primary School and the school has welcomed the group into their new community centre providing a fantastic facility for beavers to be creative, to play games and to have fun. Support from the headteacher and school governors has enabled 4th Washington Scouts to quickly establish in the school and begin an active programme for beavers.

As well being supported financially by Gentoo and Sunderland Council, the new colony has been made possible by new volunteers coming forward to take on leadership roles in the group. Now established, the colony will soon double in size, however, we still need more adult volunteers as there are over 200 young people waiting to join scouting locally.

Rebecca Matthews (21), a  volunteer from Albany, Washington said:

‘Scouting is something new to me, which I had anyways knew in my local centre but it’s something I didn’t know anything about. Since starting only 4 weeks ago, it’s boosted my personal confidence and I really enjoy being part of a great team.’

She Added: ‘The chance of working with young people and making a positive difference to their lives through scouting, awards and badges, is great to be part of. I love it. ‘

Councillor George Thompson, A local supporter of scouting, said:

‘It’s thanks to volunteers like Rebecca Matthews that we are able to offer scouting to more young people in Washington and I would ask anyone with time to spare and a desire to help young people to think about volunteering with the scouts. Volunteers can give as much or as little time as they can to help.’

To find out more about volunteering opportunities in Washington, please visit, or call 0845 300 1818.

Growing the Adventure: More than 750 Enjoy Scouts in Houghton-Le-Spring District

posted 21 Apr 2013, 14:15 by Stephen Harrison

Thanks to the enthusiasm of our 124 adult members, scouting has grown again in Houghton-Le-Spring with a further 74 young people joining the adventure. Overall that's a fantastic 13% rise on 2011.

The news comes as details of The Scout Association’s annual census are published today with total UK membership now standing at 536,787. The continued growth of scouting in Houghton-Le-Spring  - the twelfth consecutive year of expansion - has helped cement Scouting’s position as the largest co-educational youth Movement in the country.

A large part is of this growth is due to the district opening new provisions for young people aged 6 to 8 in the west of Washington and Hetton-Le-Hole to meet demand for scouting locally. The district has been able to do this as a result of new volunteers coming forward to take on leadership roles in scouting.

More and more of our adults are choosing to volunteer flexibly just like the Duchess of Cambridge, one of Scouting's highest profile volunteers. Flexible volunteering allows adult volunteers to give as much or as little time as they have available and to fit scouting around their busy lives. We hope the Duchess’ involvement in scouting will inspire other adults to get involved in Scouting and to help us to continue to grow the adventure.

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, thanked volunteers across the country:

"Like me I'm sure you fit your volunteering around a very busy lifestyle, but my mum used to say if you want something doing ask a busy person. I'd really like to say a massive thank you to you on behalf of all the young people who benefit from Scouting. It's basically because of what you do. Together you make the adventure possible."

“It’s great that so young people and adults are joining the Scouts, more than ever before, and I am sure this increase has had much to do with the Duchess of Cambridge becoming a Scout volunteer last year.

“The Duchess is an incredible role model for young women and she helps us show that Scouting’s not just for boys. She’s also such a generous volunteer and everyone is so excited to have her in the Scouting family. Many people have followed her lead and are getting involved and enjoying the adventure!”

The Duchess yesterday celebrated the achievement of over 400 Scouts and adult volunteers at Windsor Castle. The event recognises the outstanding achievements of both young people and adults in scouting. Our district commissioner, Jonathan Chicken received the Silver Acorn, an award for outstanding contribution as to Scouting as a volunteer. Chief Scout and international adventurer Bear Grylls also attended the event at Windsor castle.

You can find out more about becoming an adult volunteer on our volunteer page, whether you are interested in working with young people, could help with the management of one of our groups, or could help our fundraising efforts.

Scouting: Get ahead in your career

posted 14 Apr 2013, 01:35 by Jonathan Chicken


Get ahead in your career
Scouting in Houghton-le-Spring develops key skills and offers a range of experiences that give our adult volunteers a real advantage in the job market.

The UKSA has produced two new resources to help you make the most of your Scouting skills and experience in CVs, application forms and interviews.

Download the resource for adult volunteers or for Explorers and Network members to boost your career.

Fundraising is An Adventure Too

posted 24 Mar 2013, 06:53 by Stephen Harrison

Wearmouth Bridge
Zip Wire Fun
Scouting isn't just an adventure for young people, there's plenty of adventures for adults too. Steve Gibson (beaver leader at 1st Houghton) is taking on an amazing event to support the district international trip this year.

Steve is taking part in this year's Wearmouth Bidge Zip Wire event, a terrifying jump that takes him from road level of the bridge down to river level and stepping over the edge is a real challenge.

Steve is raising money for 1st Houghton Scouts and for the District International fund. Money raised will help support scouting in the area, and our international fund helps to ensure that young people can access our international events.

It's a big commitment from Steve, so if you can, please sponsor him generously, youcan make a commitment to sponsor Steve by completing his sponsor form online.

Cubs Go Capital 2013

posted 23 Mar 2013, 12:46 by Jonathan Chicken

A Capital City Adventure For Cub Scouts

On  Friday 1 November  we set off in the morning on an epic experience specially suited to Cubs aged 8-10 years old. We'll travel by coach, with on board games, music, films and fun. We'll stop regularly over the six hour journey.
We'll arrive at our accommodation, the Youth Hostel Association's
Holland Park Hostel in Kensington. We'll settle into our rooms, have tea and then head out by coach into Central London, walking from Buckingham Palace, down the Mall to Trafalgar Square. We'll walk past Downing Street, into Parliament Square before crossing Westminster Bridge to meet our coach on the South Bank near the London Eye.

On Saturday, we plan to visit the Science Museum where we’ll visit Launch pad which is packed with over 50 interactive exhibits, plus electrifying shows and lively demos! 
Later, we’ll visit the Natural History Museum to discover the gentle giants and bloodthirsty hunters that roamed the Earth and see the dinosaurs too.

After our evening meal we’re off on our coach into the West End to see the award winning new musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, showing at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

On Sunday, we pack our bags, and head out by coach around London’s sights with an accredited Blue Badge Guide who’ll take us around the famous landmarks, giving us a commentary about London's rich past, present and future.

Finally, we finish with the highlight of the weekend, a flight on The EDF London Eye.

We leave London by 2.00pm, making our way home by mid-evening. What a weekend!!

How We Manage Safety

Safety is at the heart of what we do. Families should be reassured that our adult team are
 experienced in events such as this and that our systems for managing safety are well refined. The use of our own coaches allows us to travel together without using public transport and a planned adult:child ratio of at least 1:6 ensures that cubs are closely supervised. Cubs will share single-sex rooms of 6-10 beds each in the vicinity of leaders' rooms. Our accommodation is secure and cubs will be roomed in dormitories with electronic access cards for blocks and rooms. Adult leaders'. 

We will share our progress during travel and our activity programme via social media and using our website allowing families to keep in touch with our highlights and progress.


Date: Friday 1 November - Sunday 3 November 2013
Cost: £160 how to pay
Accommodation: Full Board, YHA, Holland Park, Kensington
Travel: Executive Coaches, toilets, air-conditioning, DVD
Leader in Charge: Jonathan Chicken (District Commissioner)
Places: 90 (76 Cubs + 12 Leaders + 2 Drivers)
Meeting for Parents and Carers: Wednesday 2nd October 2013 6.30pm. where

Book Your Place

Book your place by clicking this link

Until 28th March, bookings will be allocated proportionally between our cub packs. Once that initial allocation is filled, families will receive an email explaining that we'll be releasing more places shortly. This ensures that all cub packs have a fair chance to attend this popular trip.

More Information

HLS In the City: Edinburgh'13

posted 4 Feb 2013, 15:48 by Jonathan Chicken

HLS In The City - 16th February 2013 
HLS In The CItypiperOver 100 HLS Scouts are taking over Edinburgh for an awesome adventure across the Scottish Border. Our day will start with a kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing Scotsman welcoming scouts aboard the coaches. You’ll travel by luxury coach (KJS Travel) up to the Scottish capital ready for an action packed day.

You’ll experience the best of the city as our trip takes in some amazing historical landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and Arthur’s Seat. We’ll also be finding out about the City’s gruesome past at the Edinburgh Dungeons and what lies beneath those famous streets.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, you’ll be taking in one of Edinburgh’s most modern attractions as you visit Our Dynamic Earth. The multimedia journey will take you through the planet’s past, present and future at break-neck speed. After an evening meal in Edinburgh (included in the price), you’ll come together with all of the scouts from HLS for a party. In true  Scottish style, we promise it’ll be epic!


Final Information for leaders (due Wednesday 6th Feb)


Group leaders should book young people onto the event. 
Bookings are open from 6th February 2013 and will close on Sunday 10th February. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What should I wear?
Scouts should wear i.SCOUT clothing if possible worn with a UK,  group or unit necker. Bring a waterproof coat, a packed lunch and some coach snacks for the journey. 

Do scouts need spending money?
Spending money is not essential, however we will operate a tuck shop on the coaches and there will be opportunities for scouts to buy souvenirs at all of the attractions. Scouts will need to be able to look after their own money during the day.

How Can I Check If The Trip Will Arrive Back On Time?
Parents can call 07713 161 245 to listen to a recorded message with our expected arrival time back at Washington Services.

New Beaver Colony Opens in Hetton

posted 14 Jan 2013, 05:39 by Jonathan Chicken

st Eppleton Scouts recently celebrated the launch of a new beaver colony, the first in Hetton, as 14 beaver scouts made their beaver scout promise at the old pit wheel in Hetton Lyons Country Park.

Proud beavers, their parents and members of the local community will come together for a very special ceremony to mark the investiture of the first beavers to the new Eppleton based colony. The outdoor venue will give just a taste of the adventure that will follow for the young people and has been chosen because of the group’s presence within the local community.

The colony is part of 1st Eppleton Scouts and is based at the group’s headquarters in Hetton-Le-Hole. The colony gives more children in area the chance to make friends, play games, go on visits and help others. Beaver scouts can expect a new adventure every week including attending their first “sleepover” tonight, an amazing first night away from home.

1st Eppleton Scouts has successfully grown to having 70 young people and adults enjoying scouting every week, that’s a rate of 365% in the last year. The new beaver colony completes the scouting family at Eppleton as there is now provision for young people aged 6 all the way to 14.

The new colony has been made possible by new volunteers coming forward to take on leadership and support roles in the group. The new volunteers have brought a real buzz to 1st Eppleton and with so many parents of young people and family members coming taking up roles, there’s a real community developing around the group.

Tracey Lukeman, a volunteer in the beaver colony from Hetton said:

“I gain a huge amount of enjoyment from my role working with young people and it fits nicely around my busy lifestyle, being able to volunteer flexibly is the way forward.”

She added: ‘Prior to joining 1st Eppleton, I had been involved as a parent helper in scouting and since taking on a full appointment I’ve already enjoyed a huge amount of support and friendship in the group and the district.”

Councillor Robert Heron, said:

“It’s thanks to new volunteers like Tracey that scouting is strong in area and that more young people are enjoying scouting than ever before and it’s a real pleasure to be invited to the ceremony. I would ask anyone with time to spare and a desire to help young people to think about volunteering with the scouts. Volunteers can give as much or as little time as they can to help."

To find out more about volunteering opportunities in Hetton and Houghton-Le-Spring, please visit, or call 0845 300 1818.

Beaver Bash was a Belta!

posted 1 Dec 2012, 08:58 by Jonathan Chicken

Take 100 Beaver Scouts, a cartoon theme, lots of food, games, prizes and fun and you've got the perfect mix for Houghton-le-Spring's Beaver Bash 2012. Beavers from the eight colonies in the district, including our newest recruits from Eppleton, near Hetton-le-Hole met in Washington for a mega-party. 

Games led by young leaders included pass-the-parcel, musical statues and wacky races! Adult volunteers supported young people make friends and have lots of fun in a way that only scouts can do! The infamous 'Gangnam Style' was a big hit with beaver scouts, showed no hesitation in showing off their moves.

Beaver Scout Emily, aged 7 said "I'm dressed Cinderella, isn't it good! I've been dancing and having fun with my friends. Its been so good. I've even won a prize."

After a lot of dancing to cartoon classics the hungry beavers sat down to enjoy a well-deserved snack, prepared by their adult volunteers. 

Houghton-le-Spring District supports young people of all ages to work together with their adult leaders and learn from one another through the fun, challenge and adventure that Scouting brings. Events such as the Beaver Bash, allow the 20+ adult volunteers who lead the youngest section to collaborate, sharing their skills and talents and develop exciting programmes for young people. 

Cubs' Christmas Caper: Disney Style

posted 1 Dec 2012, 08:30 by Jonathan Chicken

Cubs enjoy being dressed up at the CaperOver 100 cub scouts from all over the district converged on Oxclose Community Academy in Washington today for their Christmas Caper, Disney style. The fun packed day gave girls and boys the chance to meet new friends whilst having a go at themed challenges that were creative, physical, team-based and of course, down-right fun.drumming workshop

Down at the track, Cars raced, whilst the search for Aladdin's lamp among the messy cub's tent continued in earnest. Jungle (Book) fever was very obvious as Just Dance Disney Party had cubs 'swinging along' whilst Tigger (looking remarkably like John, 1st Herrington's volunteer Cub Scout Leader) dished out the bush-tucker trials. Daniel from 3rd Washington drew the short straw and ate a meal worm. His video says it all!

Josh, aged 9 said, "I've really enjoyed making things today. I spent time at home with my mum making my Monsters Inc costume, and I'm really proud of that. Its been really good fun and I love being with my friends in cubs."

Creativity and learning were not missed off as Mary Poppins helped cubs explore fossils and minerals, Lion King young leader Chris led a drumming workshop and Mickey Mouse calendars were assembled. Fishing with magnets meant cubs could test their dexterity Finding Nemo thanks to 1st Eppleton, and dinosaur onesy-wearing young leader Jack asked cubs to dig deep in Tangled spaghetti to find lost treasure.Tangled 

Keeping a beady eye on proceedings was Cruella De Vil. Cubs were relieved when they realised that no puppies were at risk when they spotted the striking resemblance in Cruella to our volunteer event organiser, Gemma Younghusband. Gemma welcomed Durham's Assistant County Commissioner, Ian Cooper, who made a surprise visit to oversee the action. 

COMING SOON: More photos of the event

Houghton-le-Spring District supports adventure across seven scout groups and over 700 members. By working together in larger teams, adult volunteers are able to deliver large events such as the Cubs' Caper. Through fun, friendship and activities, young people recognise that they are part of the UK's largest coeducational youth organisation. Currently, more young people want to join us than we have adult volunteers to support. 
To find out more, click here.


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