Explorers get full festival experience at Ferny Crofts

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Explorer Scouts from every corner of Hampshire have been getting stuck in with a full festival experience at Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre.

It's a weekend at the end of February 2024 and the entire centre is abuzz with excited teenagers. The sky may be dull and grey, occasionally brightening up and occasionally dropping more water onto the already soggy grounds. It may have been a damp month but it has done absolutely nothing to drown out the enthusiasm of the Explorer Scouts, volunteer leaders and organisers who make Ferny Fest happen.

Two years in the making

The journey to this event began two years ago with the very first Ferny Fest, designed as a celebration. Explorer Scouts, the Scout section for 14 to 18 year olds, had reached its 20th anniversary and was near new heights of popularity. With Young Leaders to help guide our young people, awards to encourage them to reach for new heights and a great deal of activities so they can try something new and make new friends while doing so, Explorers was in fine health.

Immediately after this one-off event, filled with glitter, dancing and activities of all sorts, the Explorers themselves were calling for a sequel. It arrived after a very wet February and months of intense planning involving Explorer leaders from across Hampshire, Explorer Scout Ambassadors having their say and the staff team at Ferny Crofts doing their level best to make the magic happen.

"The freedom to do whatever activity I want"

Over a bumper weekend, the Explorers had their run of the site, able to choose which activities they took part in at what time. For the adventurous, the activity zone was open for archery; Jacob's ladder, leap of faith and free-fall simulator high ropes; adventure obstacle course and crate stacking.

For those looking for a more fun and active time, aeroball and inflatables such as bucking bronco, bouncy castles, beam jump could satisfy that taste for adrenaline. Plus with laser clay pigeon shooting, Segway's and crazy golf to hone some target skills and try something new. All with the surrounds of friends, music and copious amounts of mud to make it feel like a full on festival.

As the nights drew in, different activities such as a disco, movie, campfire and arcade games area were ready to entertain with different activities to suit everyone.

So what did our young people think about it?

"It's like a holiday with my friends. Clay pigeon shooting and frisbee golf have been my highlights, its the first time of doing them properly and its great to try them out with friends. I'm really looking forward to the Segways - last time I fell off and I want to improve."

Lily, 17, from Arrow District in Eastleigh and Chandler's Ford

"The Segways were good and the laser clay pigeon shooting was very fun. Sumo wrestling sounds really good so I want to try that out."

Finley, 15 from Itchen South District in Southampton

"Doing the activities with your friends, like the wipeout, where all of my mates went flying, has been the highlight so far. I'm looking forward to the activities at night like the disco and the arcade."

Asim, 14, Arrow

"I loved Aeroball, that was brilliant. They're really bouncy you know and much better than just a trampoline. Plus the bungee run was so awesome."

Ollie, 15, from Odiham District

"My highlight was the Bruno Mars mosh-pit at the disco last night and sitting around the fire for part of the day today with my friends. Obviously I'm looking forward to tonight's disco too!"

Oscar, 16, from New Forest District.

"Seeing so many people together and having the freedom to do what I want has been a highlight. It's good fun.

Emily, 16, from Arrow District

"Getting slammed by inflatables was so fun and the movie was an extra highlight."

Willy, Arrow District

"The nights are the best bit when everyone is happy and jamming."

Seb, 16, from New Forest District

"I liked the archery and the gladiator challenge as they were so fun. Any chance to get the life skills and experiences with friends is great."

Ali, 14, from Fareham West District

"The bucking bronco was really good, I think I've got the hang of it, along with the aeroball that was good fun with my mates. Can't lie, I'm looking forward to dinner and the food, it's been great so far.

Jack, 14, from Odiham District

We'll leave the last words to Jacob:

"I'm really looking forward to coming again in future year, it's so much fun with your mates."

Jacob, 14.

You can find out more about Ferny Crofts, the Hampshire Scout Activity Centre in the heart of the New Forest and their various events from age 4 up on their website and social media channels. fernycrofts.org.uk

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