On May 24th and 25th of 2014 the Scouts of 9th and 2nd Tonbridge went back in time over 400 years to discover what made Sir Francis Drake famous and what it was like to be a sailor on his great voyage.
Drake's boat was called the Golden Hinde and in the much later 1970's a working replica was created. This galleon (Golden Hinde II) is now docked on the Thames near to London Bridge and hosts overnight stays for families and groups, so how did the Scouts fare?
We arrived in the afternoon and were given uniforms of the 16th century to dress in. These denoted our rank of Officers, Barber Surgeons, Gunners and Cabin Boys (or Scout leaders!) we were then shown on to the ship and were briefed by the grizzly Barber Surgeon, a learned man with a fascination of bodily functions! He whipped the recruits into shape so we could be introduced to the Master of the ship. Standing up straight and saluting came very easily to the Scouts so we got on the right side of the master straight away, although there were some unexplained smells that concerned him later in the voyage.
Over the next few hours these characters interactively explained to us how the sailors lived and worked including how to navigate, the drawbacks (and benefits) of health care for sailors and the wondrous medical properties of Urine, including an interactive demonstration of a leg amputation, Jimi is half the scout he used to be but we ate well that night. This all culminated in a mock battle where we defeated an onslaught by the (topically) horrible Spanish, even if many people lost their sight and limbs along the way. We even had time to play a game of shove piggy shove (which you shall have to come aboard to find out about).
After a delicious authentic meal of rice and vegetables we retired for bed. The Scouts on the Gun Deck and the Scout Leaders stowed down in the hold. I could swear that when trying to sleep I could even hear the creaking of the ship on the open seas (although this may have been one of the other leaders)....
This is a fabulous night away and the actors made it absolutely brilliant. I learned a lot, was impressed by the knowledge of the Scouts and cried laughing at times. This will be a regular trip for the 9th Tonbridge, well worth the cost.
For more details about the Golden Hinde there is a website or you can call the very helpful bookings office. I am also happy to share my nights away findings with other leaders if that helps. You will learn, you will laugh and you may lose a limb!
James (written with input from the scouts of the 9th Tonbridge)
Scout Leader 9th Tonbridge