Time for some thoughts on Camp 2013 – Prague.
For the last while, Douglas has had a “serious”camp about once every 4 years or so. In recent past we went to Rome & Kandersteg & these were superb.
About a year ago, while at camp in Boyle, we decided that 2013 should be another “serious” year. We had never used Jeka before, but chose to do so. This was a decision we were not to regret. After some consultation with Shaun Taylor in Jeka, we decided on Prague as our destination.
Having decided where we were going, and announced it to the group, we were left with the decision of how we would travel – air or overland. There are benefits of both. The biggest influencer on how we would travel, would be based on the numbers travelling. Initial numbers seemed good, so we decided to travel overland by coach.
Jeka are a non-profit organization, based in Belgium. While we would know them as an organization offering good value holidays to young people, they are also involved in providing much needed aid to people in the third world, most notably the Philippines and Brazil.
Throughout the camp process, we found Jeka to be wonderful to deal with. At all stages of the planning, Shaun Taylor and his colleagues were there to help and advise. Once we arrived at camp, Wim took over to make sure that our every need was sorted.
Basically, Jeka arrange so much of the camp for us. They arranged the accommodation, the food, and the activities. The accommodation was just great. Our hostel (Mucha) was in an area called Dobrichovice. This is a small village about 25km’s outside Prague. The village has a selection of shops & restaurants, and a railway station nearby, offering easy transfers to Prague & other areas nearby.
The hostel offered everything we needed. There were three floors of accommodation, containing between 2 & 8 beds. On each floor were a few toilets and showers – plenty to cater for the group.
Downstairs we had a large kitchen with fridges, freezer, large industrial cooker – all more than adequate for our needs. We got the hostel in a good condition, and were delighted to leave it that way too.
It is really great having your “own” hostel. To be able to turn the key in the door when you’re leaving, gives a really great feeling of security!
The food supplied was of a really good quality – and there was lots of it. Having a full kitchen available to us meant that we were able to have menu’s that would not be possible on an “ordinary” camp. (Roast Pork over a campfire just doesn’t work out too well!!) Quantity wise too, there was plenty of everything available to us.
The activities offered to us & availed of by us, were just amazing. We took part in:
- Mountain Biking
- Two day canoe trip with overnight camping
- Rock Climbing
- High Ropes
- Bob Sleighing
- Beroun Water Park
The activities were challenging, fun and great value!
In addition to this, we spent a day in Prague and also did some hiking in the local forest.
We travelled with Celtic Link ferries. These were a somewhat “unknown” entity to us before travel. They were amazing! Throughout the booking process, and the journey itself – nothing was too much trouble. On board, they gave us our own private room of Pullman seats. This was an unexpected but wonderful benefit. Meals were great, embarking and disembarking was quick, EVERYONE was friendly. Suffice to say, if we need a ferry again, Celtic Link will be our first choice!
Traditionally, Douglas Scout Group has always used Counghlans Coaches, and through them we booked Mannings Coaches of Croom for this job. This worked out so so well. Tommy Manning and Michael Coughlan drove us to Prague and back with a just amazing spirit and attitude. It’s easy to say that driving was the smallest part of what they did for us! They were just an amazing contribution to every part of the camp. We can never thank them enough for their genuine friendship.
The coach we had was a Volvo 9700. It was a fantastic machine. Comfortable, with toilet, DVD screens, fridge….. you name it, it had it! We were truly spoiled!
While the journey was long, it was really enjoyable! In these days of budget airline “pack em in” mentalities, it was wonderful to go on a real roadtrip. Also, having the coach with us was just amazing. No worries with luggage limits, bring what we wanted with troop gear, no problem getting to or from activities, no problem’s with airport security. All in all – no problems!
On our way home, we left Prague in the late afternoon, and drove at our leisure through to Paris. By early the next morning, we were outside Disneyland Paris – a small “surprise” destination that nobody knew about in advance! To say the screaming was loud, would be an understatement. A great day was had by all in Disney. That night we stayed in a Premier class hotel outside Paris. The next morning, we left and headed for Cherbourg – stopping along the way at some of the Normandy sights, and then at a Hypermarket in Cherbourg before boarding the ship for our voyage home.
Accidents and Incidents
Thankfully, we do not know where the doctors surgery / casualty is in Prague – we didn’t need to!! While Jeka were available at all times if we had had an emergency – we didn’t even have to open the first aid kit really! Happy days…..
At this stage, all bills and outstanding debts of the camp have been paid. We charged €700 per person for the camp. Did this cover the costs? Regrettably, no! All camps have to start off with costs being estimated. Normally we get this fairly close. In this instance, a lot of our estimates were “under” – which has resulted in the group covering quite a large amount of the costs. Lot’s of fundraising in the months ahead!!
Camp 2013 has been a huge success. This is primarily down to the people involved.
The young people, Scouts and Ventures, at this camp were amazing. It is many years since we went to a camp with such confidence in the behaviour of the young people at camp. That confidence was well deserved – thank you all.
To the slightly older people :-) The adults at camp all worked in that amazing fashion of Douglas Scouters. We have fun, while working hard to make everything a huge success. The gratitude of the group must go forever to:
- Conor Crowley
- Nick Swanton
- Niamh Fullam
- John Cleary
- Stephen McCarthy
- Wendy Swanton
- Vickie Swanton
- Cian Swanton
- Gavin Shanahan
- Ciara Hosford
- Kevin O’Donoghue
and as mentioned before, huge thanks for Michael Coughlan and Tommy Manning.
A particular thanks goes to Siobhan Hodkinson, for coming out all the way from Cork just to go canoeing!! It was great to have her there along with Ger, Eoin and Emma – as it was to have Mary & Nisha Coughlan with us. All added greatly to the trip!
Huge thanks too to the various members of the Group Council for their contribution & support before and during the camp, especially to Billy and Margaret Desmond who were there as ever helping along the way!
That’s about it! Apologies to everyone whom I’ve forgotten! No slight is intended – just old age on my part!!!!! It’s always the risk when you start thanking anyone – if I have forgotten you – thank you too!
As a parting note, if any other Scout groups are reading this & thinking of a similar trip, get in touch. I’d be only delighted to chat about all and any part of the trip with you.