What is it?
Forward is CUSAGC's annual incident hike for Scouts and Guides (10-14s). It takes the form of a ~10mile hike, with five checkpoints spaced around the route where challenges allow teams to earn points. Two trophies are available to be won; one for Scout Association teams and one for GirlGuiding UK teams.
Teams are of 4-6 members, with the option of having an additional chaperone to help with navigation (a decision made and arranged by the team's Guide/Scout Leader). Teams must decide their route based on 6-figure grid references given to them when they arrive at HQ on the day and complete the route within a 7-hour time limit, including stopping at the activity bases to earn points. Start, and therefore finish, times are staggered, the first teams usually leaving HQ at about 8.30am, and all are back before dark. In addition to challenges, and completing the route, teams are also given a quiz sheet with questions related to the route and puzzles in order to gain valuable extra points.
Checkpoint challenges require good communication and teamwork, and are often very fun – for both the participants and the CUSAGC volunteers running them! The first aid and crime scene investigation bases make an appearance every year, alongside a whole host of other challenges, as well as a whole host of silly-but-fun challenges! In previous years teams have been asked to take part in nuclear disarmament, pitch tents blindfolded, make spaghetti towers, herd sheep, transfer Smarties using straws, tie themselves in knots, copy Lego models whilst blindfolded and much, much more!
Teams are provided with hot drinks at the middle checkpoint and a hot snack and drinks on return to HQ. Trophies are awarded once all the scores are in.
The event is fully risk-assessed, insured and run conforming to SSAGO rules (which are a combination of The Scout Association and GirlGuiding UK's) on safety and safeguarding. We have recently had this all approved by the Cambridgeshire Scout Activities Team, and would be happy to provide details to any interested parties. Landowners, parish councils and the police are always informed.
Where is it?
Forward is usually held within easy striking distance of Cambridge - in 2013 we returned to Balsham near the Cambridgeshire/Essex/Suffolk border. Past locations include Toft (2012) Waterbeach (2011) and Histon (2010).
When is it?
Forward 2013 was on Saturday 2nd March. It usually takes place at the very end of February or beginning of March, towards the end of Cambridge University's Lent term.
How do I find out more?
Come back here later in January for information on the next event, or email forward [at] cusagc.org.uk to put your name down for email updates.
Forward 2013 was a 10.5-mile hike for Scouts and Guides organised by Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club (CUSAGC) and held to the East of Cambridge, based in Balsham. The route, via West Wratting, Weston Colville, West Wickham and Streetly End had to be completed within 7 hours and included 5 manned checkpoints, each of which involved a challenge for teams to complete. Turnout was excellent, with 170 Scouts and Guides taking part in 38 teams, in addition to 23 accompanying Leaders and 30 event staff. Teams came from throughout Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, with one team travelling from Bedfordshire.
At the bases, teams had to get a very large beach ball across an obstacle course (without touching it), perform first aid on people who had been involved in a simulated car accident, work out how to get the Chief Guide, Chief Scout and CUSAGC and SSAGO mascots safely across a ravine, remember a crime scene and herd blindfolded members of their team into a pen.
Once again we were blessed with good (if cold) weather, and the ground underfoot was muddy, but a lot drier than it had been in January when we walked the route! Most of the route was across rolling and open farmland, and it also traversed a section of the Roman Road (on which navigation was, we hope, straightforward!). On returning, teams were stuffed full of hot dogs and home-made brownies.
There was close competition throughout the score table, but 3rd Cambridge Guides A stormed to victory, with 12th Cambridge Scouts A attaining a comfortable second, so taking first in the Guide and Scout categories respectively. Those teams who were not entered in the competition still put in admirable performances, with all enjoying themselves and learning something in the process. The scoring is complicated, but takes into account scores at the challenge bases, proportion of the route completed and an observation quiz. Good performance is required across the board to win, but individual teams posted very impressive scores in particular areas.
After a successful trial last year, a third of the teams started and finished midway round the route from HQ, meaning that bases were less busy and, teams had to wait less time to complete challenges. We’d be grateful for any feedback about the event and what worked well or not so that next year’s event can be even better.
We’re most grateful to all the teams and their Leaders for their participation, and to all the CUSAGCers, Leaders and others who ensured the event could happen by lending their time and experience. We hope everyone had a good time!
Forward will happen again next year; in the meantime, BREAM & CuBAA, the craft day for Beavers, Rainbows, Cubs and Brownies, will be sometime in early May and the Marathon Challenge for all Scouts or Guides over 14 (including Leaders) is pencilled in for early November – visit the Marathon page or email email@example.com for more details.
Gwilym and Hannah Thomas