Romania 2002

BEG's First European Expedition

The expedition will take place in July 2002 - (Target Dates Saturday 6th to Saturday 20th), but definite dates are not organised yet.

It will be for a group of 14 people in total - likely to be 4 leaders and 10 venturers aged 16-25 - again, not absolutely definite yet.

The duration will be between 10 and 14 days. Only definite aspect as yet is that we'll be doing a course run by Outward Bound Romanis which will involve team building activities, backpacking, orienteering, raft building, possibly canyoning and other outdoor activities.

We'll fly Edinburgh - London - Bucharest and then take train to Sighisoara in Transylvania where we'll be picked up by the company. Most activities will take place in Transylvania (yes, if you've heard the name before, Transylvania is Dracula country).

Costs will be in region of £550; £250 for flights and £300 other costs:- food, accomodation, activities, insurance, local travel etc.

There is also the possibility of visiting an orphanage for 2 days at end - we haven't made contact with the orphanage yet, but it is an intention.

Possible Itinerary (very provisional)
Day 1Travel to Romania
Day 2Travel to Sighisoara
Day 3Team-building Activities, Climbing Wall
Day 4Abseiling, Bivuoac, Climbing
Day 5Canyoning
Day 6Mountain Expedition - Backpacking
Day 7Mountain Expedition - Cultural visits
Day 8Raft Building
Day 9Transfer
Day 10Visit / Orphanage Project
Day 11Visit / Orphanage Project
Day 12Travel to Bucharest
Day 13Flights Home
Please be very clear, this is very much a provisional itinerary and is dependant entirely on being able to organise flights times and activities as hoped for.

Romania Participants
  • Clare Kitchener
  • Laura Shackleton
  • Jim Shepherd
  • Jim McPherson
  • Lynsey Anderson
  • Liam Cunningham
  • Laura Darling
  • Ruth Longmuir
  • Vicky McCall
  • Lisa Norman
  • Paul Norman
  • Lisa Ramage
  • Clare Richardson
  • Catriona Ritchie

First meeting of Romania Group

On Sunday 10th of February the group of venturers and leaders of the Romania Group met in the Argus Centre. Our first activity was to do ice breakers to get to know everyone. The icebreakers were a variety of different things,one involving making something musical from the words "Boom", "Blah" and "Hey", (whatever we came up with could be called many things but maybe not musical). Another icebreaker involved all of us threading string through our clothes and passing it to the next person, needless to say some of us were better at this than others. Seeing how many people we could fit on a t-shirt was another icebreaker, this was fun to begin with until some of us were launched up onto the top of people's shoulders, which was very scary and left us hanging on at the top. The final icebreaker involved us trying to pour water from spoons, into bottles, which were lying on Laura's and Clare's foreheads. Obviously they got very wet, as most of our aims were way off target.

What can we say about the next activity, except that it showed some of us how unfit we are!! We went on a run!! The run was meant to be a straightforward, easy activity, but after it some of us were very tired. It showed some of us (especially me and Catriona) that we need to do some more exercise!!! We next had lunch which turned out to be very interesting. Everyone had to lay their lunch on the table. We were then all given a number and whoever was number one went first and could pick whatever they wanted off the table! This was great, especially if you'd brought a rubbish lunch. It was, however, not as good for the person who got the last number!

In the afternoon we split into three group and went round different activities. One activity involved putting up tents, which most people were good at, another was using a compass and reading maps - we had to go outside and put black bags over our heads and try and find our way around! Some of us were good at this too and some of us weren't (Ruth almost walked over a grassy bank!). But at least we know now who we shouldn't let use a compass in Romania!! The third activity was to light a stove so we could boil water and make a cup of tea. Only one out of the three groups did this so it looks like we'll either starve when we are away or be eating cold food for the two weeks! Hopefully though we'll all be able to use a stove by the time we go.

For the rest of the time, Clare and Jim gave us information on the trip, the history of Romania and what the country is like now and what we can expect to be doing when we get there. The trip sounds amazing and everyone in the group seems really friendly and enthusiastic about it. We can't wait to go and look forward to meeting everyone again soon!

Cappercleuch Training Weekend

We all met at Selkirk High School on Friday 3rd May, raring to go, with packs so big and heavy that anyone would have suspected we were leaving home, rather than going to St. Mary's Loch for a training weekend! After having arrived at the little green hut by the side of the loch, which was to be our lodgings for the night, we unpacked and got stuck, straight away, into some games, (not literally) one of which involved running over people's legs, and trying very hard not to stand on them, which proved to be incredibly difficult as the majority of us were wearing clumpy boots. Next we were given a crash course in Romanian by Clare Kitchener, where we learnt to say such things as, "hello", "yes", "no", "my name is . . ." and many other useful phrases. However, sensing the fact that our Romanian would probably leave much to be desired, she had also included the phrase, "I do not speak Romanian!"

It was Jim McPherson's turn next, to educate us in the realms of map reading - one of the tasks involved looking for all the sites of interest along a particular stretch of the River Tweed from a map, and then presenting our finds in an interesting way. In our group, with Paul and Liam being the only blokes in it, we naturally had them crawling around the floor, pretending to be cute little frolicking lambs by the side of the river, then fish in the water, and finally, twittering birds in the trees as they flapped their arms around wildly, much to the amusement of Jim who, I don't think had seen anything quite like it before!! In the other group however, we had Catriona conducting a tour of the River Tweed in a gondola! Before we knew it, it was bedtime, and everyone was snuggled up in their sleeping bags, trying to sleep. Trying being the operative word - no-one had mentioned the fact that ear plugs were an essential part of the kit list in order to combat the snores of a certain person who shall remain nameless!!

Porridge was on the menu for breakfast, which was just as well because we were to need the energy for the morning's activities - canoeing, in which many of us spent most of our time going round in circles, (there is a great amount of energy and skill involved in this, I tell you) and also a quiz with clues spread around the loch.

After lunch we had a visit from the Sutherlands, and Ron had us sketching a landscape across the loch and then labelling it, looking at the land, not merely from an artist's point of view, but geographically too. After that, we split up into two groups - one group went with Pat to do some fitness training, the general aim seemed to be, for the majority of us, to show how unfit we all were, rather than fit. I think some private training will be needed!! The other group went with Ron and were shown the ins and outs of the Trangia Stove, then we had to boil a kettle of water, with slightly more success than at he previous training day. Our next activity saw us scrambling up a burn, in and out of tree branches, trying desperately not to get our feet wet. (Otherwise known as gorge walking) Anyone looking down on our litle escapade from above would have wondered at the sanity of our group as there seemed to be perfectly adequate grassy banks on either side of the stream to walk on. It comes as no surprise then that it was PJ (aka Jim Shepherd) who was conducting this activity!! When we all got back to the hut in one piece with a few scratches and splinters to show for our little exploit, we were then informed that we were to go canoeing for one and a half miles across the loch, to some remote bit of forest where we would be setting up camp for the night, without tents and with only the trees and wildlife to keep us company!! At this point, I began to wonder whether or not I really was crazy, as we were paying to do this! Once across the the loch, we split up into two groups to build our bivvys, while some people set about making the dinner. Alan Young who had dropped by, seemed quite intrigued at the amount of crashing and banging coming from one part of the woods, where one particular tree seemed to be swaying rather violently back and forth with someone attached, half way up it! Bivvys having been made and the dinner cooked, we all sat around the fire to enjoy the wonders of sludgy pasta with a "vegetarian-mince-and-every-other-vegetable-imaginable" sauce to go with it. (much to the annoyance of carnivorous PJ)

We rounded off the evening, sitting in front of the roaring camp fire, looking out across the loch, under a starry sky, enjoying the sound of fiddles played by Ruth Longmuir and Lisa Ramage, with occasional hoots of an owl in the background. (Aaaw, how idyllic) Then we all bundled off into our bivvys, where most folk slept like a log after such a tiring day. (with the exception maybe of Vicky who had the misfortune of having to sleep with my elbow stuck in her neck for most of the night!)

We woke in the morning to the sound of birds singing and to bright sunshine. It was to be a stunning day. Having come across the loch by canoe, we now had to get back over to the hut - before breakfast - and so, once again, we all got into our canoes and paddled off across the loch. This time however, the journey over was spectacular, and will be remembered for a long time to come ; the loch was flat calm and there was not a cloud in the sky. The sun shone brightly, highlighting the beauty of the surrounding landscape. It was magnificent.

After an egg roll which greatly helped replenish our energy levels, we then sat outside, basking in the sunlight, while listening to Sam who gave us some handy hints on how to and what to pack in our rucsacs. And finally, our last task was to produce an interesting presentation on a certain aspect of Scotland, such as education, history, culture, entertainment or sports. The leaders found our presentations highly amusing (once again) and I have a sneaky suspicion that the sole purpose of these presentations was merely to entertain the leaders. After a quick rounding off session, where we all discussed how the weekend had gone, it was obvious that everyone had had a great time. Thanks to all the leaders and anyone else who helped make this weekend really enjoyable and a great success.

Thanks for the weekend, it was great,

Lisa Norman

Heiton: Romanian Training Weekend 2

On Saturday 21st June the leaders and venturer's met at Heiton Hall at 9:15 in the morning. First on the Agenda was some rock climbing. All of us, except for PJ (Jim Shepherd) who was waiting for a very tired Ruth, took the mini bus to the natural rock formation at Berryhill where we were going to climb.

Ian and Sarah Stark were there to greet us and indeed they were our instructors. Firstly Ian gave us a little talk and warmed us up with some jogging and some stretches. While instructing us he emphasized that safety always came first, he also explained the climbs and gave us details on how difficult they were. To some people's horror, rock climbing difficulty ratings start at the 'very difficult' and these ones to the inexperienced (mainly me) looked very tricky! Starting with three climbs called Cheat, ______ and _____ everyone was arranged into groups, given harnesses, helmets and instructions on how to use them. To those who had been to Alien Rock to do indoor climbing they found this a very different experience - agreeing outdoor climbing has a lot more advantages, including some magnificent views when you reached the top. After mostly everyone had had a try at the three different climbs - and I have to say everyone done really, really well - we split into 2 groups. One half went to do bouldering with Ian. This was walking along the cliffs horizontally not very far from the ground and trying not to fall off. This also entailed half-wriggling, half-climbing up a crack in the cliff - this produced some very strange techniques. I for one got stuck in the crack and had a fit of giggles and Jim McPherson doing a kind of dance under Claire Kitchener trying not to let her use his head as a leverage (and unfortunately getting hit twice)! The other half of the group went with Sarah to try the most elegant, and most evil looking, of all the climbs called Flutings.

After being drenched twice with rain and Jim McPherson doing an amazingly complicated fall/roll down _____ we headed back to the hall to receive a talk on rucksack packing from PJ. We were privileged to have an intimate glimpse inside his rucksack - finding out that PJ really, really loves his sleeping bag - finding out which items are best put in specific places e.g. heavy items to the top. After that we talked about the golden rules

Alan Young came to visit us after dinner where we discussed issues like entertainment that we are putting on for the Romanians. It was decided that we would do a musical number with country and highland dancing. Also a sketchbook of pictures, e.g. Scottish landscapes and such was to be produced for the Romanians to see what Scotland actually looks like. Also, Lisa Norman had a booklet of songs where the singers do actions - songs we can teach the Romanians which we will take with us.

PJ then talked to us about river crossing and it's dangers. We then pretended the hall was a river and then tried to cross this amazingly dangerous piece of water with techniques taught to us by PJ, which included the use of a brush. The first was where 3 people lined up holding each others hips in a chain behind the strongest person who then felt there way across the water using the stick (brush) to judge the depth of the water. The second was where 3 people hold the stick together and shuffle along the water and the third was when 3 people huddled in a triangle to shuffle along the water. PJ then proceeded to terrorize us with some horror stories about botched up river crossings, which made us really look forward to trying it.

After Alan Young took his leave we all done some country dancing with Ruth, Lisa and Paul giving us some spectacular music. It was really great fun, with very enthusiastic participants.

The whole group then went to bed, only to be wakened up again at 1 o clock in the morning with an emergency evacuation. This was our first one but we were told we all done really well - everyone with they're personal possessions getting out of the hall in about 4 and a half minutes, with only a pair of boots and a jumper left in the hall.

In the morning Rodger Hemming dropped in and gave us a talk about good practice when in Romania. Before starting Rodger took us outside and let us listen to what was around us and discuss what we may hear in Romania that would be similar - this also had the aim of waking us up. When inside the talk commenced starting with 'Effects of Fieldwork', in which Rodger explained the effects of trampling the environment around the campsite and the damage in could do. 'Access and Movement' was another issue which included points like are all the expedition members conversant with minimizing movement impact? Another was 'Effect of the Camp' teaching us to find the best area for the least environmental damage. Lastly was 'Community Relationships' - is the expedition welcomed by the community? This was a very informative talk and really helped a lot in understanding more of our responsibilities and what we may be expected to do and achieve in Romania regarding the environment.

We then took the mini-bus to the outskirts of Kelso with our full rucksacks. We then took turns of map reading to take us back to the hall. The walk took us down the Tweed - the walk was idyllic and the scenery beautiful the whole way. PJ stopped us half way through the walk and showed us parts of the river that may have been dangerous to cross. After crossing the old Railway Bridge (which was supposed to be sealed off) Laura and I decided on a quicker route to the hall that did not include the road - unfortunately this took us through a very muddy bog... but we did reach a beautiful poppy field at the end, in my opinion it was worth it!

After reaching the hall we had our lunch and Claire showed us the T-Shirt design for the Romanian Expedition T-shirts that she was ordering and we all picked what size of T-shirt we wanted. After which Claire gave us more details of the Expedition. The main talk including the Golden Rules, which the venturer's had discussed amongst themselves already, and then they were finalized with everyone's agreement and input. We then discussed the highs and lows of the weekend with everyone mostly agreed that the mountain climbing was the highlight of the weekend and the emergency evacuation the lowest.

The weekend was then rounded up with parents coming to hear the finalized details of the expedition that included the flight times, itineraries and more explanations of the golden rules. Everyone was very amused to find we were leaving at 4 o clock in the morning... All in all it was a great weekend and was great fun with lots of input from the leaders and venturer's with an undercurrent of excitement for the expedition ahead.

Vikki McCall