Hiking Camp @Sai Kung
It was the first time in a long time that three sections of the 1st Hong Kong Canadian Scout Group gathered to participate in a scouting activity together. With the guidance of newly appointed Scouter Ryan, the Rovers, Scouts, and Venturers, all went on a 2 Day 1 Night hiking camp on December 18, 2022. This scouting activity had its ups and downs, but overall, it was a wonderful learning experience for us from the youngest scout to the most senior Rover.
The preparation for this hiking camp was extensive and rigorous—the Scouts and Venturers were tasked to complete the Route Chart, Equipment List, Meal Plan, and Emergency Contact List weeks prior to the day of the hiking camp. They used the previous Venturers’ hiking camp plan for reference and planned out every detail. Their hard work would ensure a safe and well-prepared scouting activity for everyone in the group.
After Scouter Ryan mapped out the trail for the 11km hike, the Scouts filled in the rest of the route chart with details such as the bearings, distance, and altitude. We planned to meet at Sai Kung Pier before heading to our starting point: Yung Shue O. From there, we would head along the coast towards Sham Chung Wan and then turn east to settle down at the campsite by Lai Chi Chong Pier. After staying there overnight, we would muster our energy the next day to finish off at Hoi Ha. However, like any major event, even the most elaborate, well thought-out plan can be disrupted by the unpredictability of life. Or in this case, a buyer who decided to take the campsite for themselves.
D Day - Expect the Unexpected
It started out as a promising but cold Saturday morning as we all gathered at Sai Kung pier, bulky hiking bags on our backs, dressed warmly in our best hiking gear, with a BP (Baden Powell) spirit to match. The overcast weather showed little signs of rain, so we were ready for the hike – until we received a call from Scouter Kevin, who left earlier that day to visit the campsite. He reported that the campsite we originally planned to stay in was no longer available as it had been bought and became private property.
We were all in disbelief when we heard the news, but we couldn’t idle for long. From there, we formulated a new route plan that would take us on a different hike to another public campsite in Sai Kung. As soon as a consensus was reached for the new plan, the group immediately took action while Scouter Kevin made his way to the new campsite.
We took the minibus straight to Hau Tong Kai campsite. We briefly scouted the area and took some time to reassess a new route chart on the spot. Under Scouter Ryan, the Venturers and Scouts learned how to use their compass to find bearings on the map to help our navigation on the trail. Once they were satisfied, we wasted no time and took off to the new trail immediately.
Day 1 Hike
At the beginning of the hike, Venturers took charge of navigation. With the fresh knowledge of how to use a compass and map, they seemed hesitant and uncertain at first when approaching every fork on the trail. Over time with the help of the experienced Rovers, we finally found our way to the peak of the hill.
We were rewarded with windy and slightly overcast weather up there, but it felt like an accomplishment nonetheless. The uphill hike was warm enough that we didn’t mind the cold. We took in the distant sights of the blueish islands in the east, and the pale gradient of the sea below. Even the unexpected wrench in our plans and the burden of our hiking backpacks couldn’t dampen our spirits.
As we ventured further down the trail, the clear path was gradually lost among the many tree branches and bushes in our way. It made the hiking experience thrilling and exciting. We let go of our doubts and continued to shoulder our way through the path. However, our doubts and suspicions began to creep in as the hike became more and more strenuous. We were sliding, ducking, and bush-wacking our way through, that many of us began to question. Scouter Ryan finally halted us on the way of sliding downhill on our bottoms, the doubt and suspicion began to creep back in. That was when we started to realize (but hoped not to admit) that we may possibly be lost.
It turned out that the path on Scouter Ryan’s map may be too old that it was no longer a proper hiking trail, which led to a lot of confusion between the map and our surroundings. After that realization, the atmosphere among the 11 of us shifted—getting lost on a hiking camp was the last thing anyone would want to happen. Unfortunately, with the last-minute planning that we had to do that morning, it was almost inevitable that mistakes could happen. At that point we still had more than enough food to get through, so we had one less thing to worry about. Although everyone was clearly tired and lost, no one voiced any complaint and we were all ready to follow along with whatever the leader thought was best for us. Either way, we were all incredibly determined to return to the campsite that night, safe and sound.
When we passed by two graves on the side of the hill, everyone took a water break and shared some snacks and fruit to lighten our loads. It was hours past our scheduled lunchtime by then. As we replenished our energy, Scouter Ryan and Rover Cody scoured the area for an escape route with the help of Scouter Andrew.
Meanwhile back at the campsite, Scouter Kevin secured our camping area and started cooking his instant noodles.
We took off once again, our camaraderie and morale strong as we shouldered on with an undying resilience and perseverance. It felt reassuring not to be lost alone, surrounded by a group that was patient and agreeable with each other. In what could be a stressful and difficult situation, we all remained calm and tried to problem solve effectively together. Thanks to this attitude, we finally found our way back to a clear, wide hiking path that led to a small village. From there, we recalibrated our route and successfully made our way back to the campsite that was 1km away, where Scouter Kevin welcomed us with his pitched tent and a warm smile.
At around 5pm as the sun set, we pitched our tents to prepare for the night, then we took out portions of food from our bags to prepare dinner. Some of the scout sections had their own meal plans. The Venturers and Scouts made pan-seared chicken with macaroni and cheese, the Rover scouts made instant noodles with sausages and vegetables, while some Scouters had their own meals to prepare. The promise of a nice warm meal after a day of unexpectedly prolonged hiking was a comfort that we all looked forward to at the end of the day.
Without the constant hiking and physical activity to keep us warm, the night gradually felt colder. To make up for that, some of the Venturers gathered dry sticks and branches to start a fire in the neighbouring fire pit. Although it was an activity that was mostly for fun while other scouts were preparing dinner, everyone appreciated the source of warmth (and smoke) that we could enjoy when it got unbearably cold. It also livened the campsite’s atmosphere—it’s not a true camp without a campfire.
It was a slow and laidback morning as we gradually woke up one by one without a set wake-up call—a treat that we agreed on after cancelling the initially planned day 2 hike. The thick clouds from the day before were blown away and warm sunlight filtered in through the trees around us.
Some scouts woke early to restart the fire from the night before, and a few people sought warmth from it again in the early morning.
At about 9am, we started to cook breakfast. The Scouts and Venturers had instant noodles and the Rovers had spam and rice. The instant food gave us energy and was quick and easy to make. Scouter Andrew took advantage of the campfire and prepared to sear pork on the fire as his breakfast. Meanwhile, some of us enjoyed a short game of frisbee in the open area nearby.
Without an agenda for the rest of the morning, the Scouts and Venturers became more and more interested in feeding the fire. The firepit began to get piled up with bigger and bigger branches and logs that were too much for the fire to keep up, but it was fun nonetheless. Eventually, Scouter Ryan called everyone around for a reflection of the camp. He started by asking the question, “What did you learn during this camp,” and each person around the circle had a chance to answer and give their own input.
There were many things that each of us were able to learn, whether a young scout or an experienced scouter. It was certainly an eye-opening experience to everyone to always “be prepared” as the scout motto states, and to expect the unexpected. It was also a learning opportunity to understand the importance of teamwork when going on a hiking camp, from the planning stage to the execution stage. Working together harmoniously and productively makes it easier to get through the difficult terrain and challenging situations. Thankfully, each section worked well together and combined our strengths to get through the hike on the first day, even when we had to change our plans and got lost on the impromptu route. Scouter Kevin and Scouter Andrew also gave their evaluation of the activity, with advice to the younger Scouts and Venturers on their future scouting and AYP activities after this first experience.
All in all, even with the unwelcome interruption to our camp plans, the hiking camp was an overall success thanks to our preparation, collaboration, and perseverance.