Night Owl

Friday night was the annual Girl Guiding and Scouts competition known as Night Owl. Groups of guides and scouts in varying categories have to navigate a route in the dark, completing questions and activity bases along the way and they score points based on things like completion, team work, observation etc. and the team with the highest number of points wins. 

I first became an occasional helper volunteer because my mother-in-law is a guide leader for our local group and asked if I’d be interested in participating. This was several years ago and have done night owl almost every year since. When I describe my evening to people (supervising a group of teens around the countryside until about 2am) it sounds horrendous but it’s actually great fun and is an event I’ve volunteered to help with for many years and was in fact what first got me into hiking. 

Whilst I’ve walked with others in the past me and Pete have been teamed up to walk together with a group for the last few and have managed to make a reputation for ourselves - we heard about the girls arguing about who wanted to walk with us and played rock, paper, scissors as the decider on who would get us! We thought this was hilarious and felt very loved but Pete’s mum was somewhat insulted they didn’t want to walk with her! 

We were with a younger team this year and the most quiet team we’ve ever walked with, they are normally super sugar loaded and very loud! They needed some pointers to get them started which is fine for a younger team but we worked on getting them less reliant on us. One of the things I love about night owl is seeing the girls develop as we go round and this team were much the same, slow and unsure to start with but were flying through by the end, checking the map for themselves and picking up a great pace. We are happy to let them get a bit lost but will also give clues such as slowing down, map check reminders and asking them if the are sure they want to be going the way they are if they are going too far wrong.

Bases are often fun, the kids get to do an activity that work on things such as teamwork as well as getting them to working things out and we get to sit by the campfire and have a cuppa. There is always a food base where we get sausage batches too.

Me and Pete are very anti using torches when walking. Some groups keep their lights on all the way round but we tell the girls to turn them off unless needed for things such such as map reading (quite often we have to give a nudge to turn back off after map checks). It’s never pitch black and once you adjust you can see better without them. It’s easy to miss a clue that’s in shadow cast by the torch light plus it blinds walkers coming the other way by keeping them on. 

Even at night you can get some amazing views as you go round, it doesn’t pick up well on camera but to the naked eye you get some beautiful sights, silhouettes of trees and farm buildings, moonlight in ponds to name a couple. 

Once the route is completed the teams are driven back to base where the they sleep over. Me and Pete choose to come back to our own beds at this point but we will get an update message in the morning with how the teams have done and our group did really well getting second in their group!

Big thank you do the organisers and volunteers of night owl, it’s a great event and the prepping of the route, the arranging of teams, volunteers to run bases and walk with the teams all make it possible.

Kit that I wore and took is on my Instagram page if you would like to see. My new boots did a fantastic job, normally hate bedding in new boots but they were very comfy the whole night. Just need a bit of a clean now!

Dawn x

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