Throughout the 1950s, the annual summer camps were land-based and the programme comprised traditional outdoor Scouting activities such as hiking, backwoods cooking, pioneering etc. Around 1960, the camps started to take place on tidal waters. One of the first was at Burnham on Crouch. For this camp Ajax borrowed from another Sea Scout Group a 50ft motorboat, the ‘Minotaur’. They set off from Thames Ditton for a cruise down the Thames, past Southend, around the Foulness Sands and into the River Crouch where the camp was set up at Creeksea, near Burnham on Crouch. On tow were the two new 20ft gigs and a couple of wooden dinghies.
This was the first camp at which each Sea Scout Patrol took its turn to go on a ‘Coxswain’s Cruise’. This involves planning the journey using charts and taking account of tides and weather; loading a gig correctly with camp gear, provisions and personal gear; and camping out overnight. These coxswain’s cruises help the development of leadership skills and resourcefulness and have been a feature of Ajax Troop camps ever since, except for those years when the Group has attended overseas jamborees such as Nawaka 2018.
Over the years summer camps have been held at various locations including Northey Island and Maylandsea on the River Blackwater in Essex; Cobnor near Bosham on Chichester Harbour; Kirton Creek, Felixstowe Ferry and Waldringfield on the River Deben in Suffolk; Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight; Mersea Island in Essex; and Lake Bala in North Wales. Perhaps our favourite campsite is at Cleavel Point on Poole Harbour where we have camped many times over the decades.
This is an edited excerpt of George Barber’s “70 Years of Ajax and 65 Years an Ajaccio”, first published in the 2018 Ajax Group Annual Report