In 2015, the 5th Islington Scouts were joined by a patrol from Italy called Pistoia 2 Scout group, for their spring summer camp. The two patrols had a brilliant time together and at the end of the camp Pistoia 2 invited the Islington Scouts to join them for one of their summer camps, which they enthusiastically accepted. The 5th Islington patrol were awarded a grant of £750 by the Jack Petchey Foundation, which not only helped to cover the cost of transportation of the trip, but also covered the costs of the gifts that the Islington scouts brought to their Italian friends.
In a last minute turn of events, the week before the patrol left they had a request from another Pistoia scout group (Pistoia 4) who had heard about their trip to Italy and asked if the patrol could spend some time with them at their camp so that they too could meet the English scouts and participate in the international experience. Therefore they made amends to their plans so that they could visit both of the Italian patrols during their trip.
On the 31st of July, four leaders and eleven scouts set off on their Italian adventure. They arrived to beautiful weather in Pisa and spent part of the day sightseeing and eating authentic Italian pizza. The group then travelled by train to Pistoia, followed by a two hour hike to their camp for the night. The next day they travelled to the Pistoia 4 campsite, which was nestled in the beautifully scenic Pistoia Mountains. The Union Flag, which was funded by the Jack Petchey award, was gifted to the Italian patrol and then raised, before the two patrols enjoyed a variety of camp activities together. The day ended with a big campfire and the singing of songs in English and Italian.
After presenting Pistoia 4 with their group scarves and badges, the 5th Islington patrol then made their way to the Pistoia 2 basecamp, which lies even further into the mountains. They arrived at the camp to more warm welcomes and presented Pistoia 2 with another Union Flag. The next five days were jam-packed with activities, which included an international cooking competition, a hike to the Gelato shop, water slides, sleeping under the stars and a talent competition.
The final evening in Pistoia was spent around a huge camp fire and BBQ with singing and dancing into the night. On their last day, goodbyes were said and group pictures taken, with more exchanges of scarves and badges between the patrols.
The scouts really enjoyed the trip, each highlighting their favourite moments. Leela commented “I learnt some new recipes which I really want to try at our camps. Their food was lovely.” Rex said “The hike and sleeping under the stars was cool”, whereas Hamish found the cultural exchange the best part, saying “I learnt a lot of Italian and about Italian scouting and made some new great friends”
Barbara Garner, the 5th Islington’s Leader Award winner, said “The grant was a great help in pulling off a great camping trip that not only enriched and benefited the 11 young people and 4 leaders we took with us but also the 80 Italian young people and their leaders that we met and shared the experience with. We look forward to many years of strong ties with our Italian scouting family.”
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