Matthew Wade (SAGGA)
Tuesday 31st of October 2017
The adventures of SSAGO graduates at Alternative Rally, the next stage of a SSAGO Rally, once they've moved on to SAGGA, the Scout and Guide Graduate Association
SAGGA Alternative rally, as the name suggests, presents an alternative to the immensely popular, and (probably) historically well attended (by SAGGA members) SSAGO rallies. These national camps are held three times a year by different SSAGO’s from around the country, and often get up to 200 people on site. Having graduated and moved on from SSAGO, a lot of SAGGA members miss the weekends of activities, fire and socialising. Alternative Rally was the first event of its kind since roughly the early 2000’s, open to all SAGGA members and importantly SSAGO members who have recently or will recently graduate (and want to fill the void in their hearts when they leave SSAGO).
Similar to a SSAGO rally it was a Friday-Sunday affair, in a fairly central location, with the promise of fire, activities and seeing people you hadn’t in a while. Major differences include the ceilidh being replaced with copious amounts of cheese, activities being a free for all whatever you want to do on the Saturday, and for the most part, no staff (of course they were SOME roles kept). The major idea behind this last change was simple, you want to do something? You go and organise it. Some people might think this is terrible idea, but given the camp size was only around 30-40 people it fits remarkably well. Everyone can do something they enjoy, and come the end of camp everyone pitches in to help clean, rather than just a poor select few.
So, Alternative rally this year took place from the 13th to the 15th October at the Alfrey Activity Centre, Warwickshire, not too far from Birmingham. As mentioned official count was around the 35 mark, with both current SAGGA and prospective SAGGA members attending. On the Friday we rocked up to a fairly classic theme, pitching tents in the dark and a meal. For fans of carbs or the colour yellow there was Garlic Bread, Macaroni and cheese AND cheesy chips. Soon also a gathering of like minded members found the wood pile (I used the term “wood pile” here very loosely, as that implies some sort of order, or that all of it might be wood) and fumbled in the darkness to find the choicest kindling to start a fire in the grandiose fire pit. Meanwhile, given we had access to an indoor shelter (because the Warden couldn’t be bothered with getting the Marquee out) some people went indoors to socialise, play games and eat cheese. Cheese might be a recurring theme.
Saturday saw a novel reasonably timed and higher budgeted breakfast (one of the advertised taglines) and saw the opening ceremony. Soon after it reduced the normal chaos of sorting out a billion different activities and condensed it into “fill in a sheet and find a driver”. An excellent and simple format, where we could peruse a list of available options, fill in our names on a sheet and find a driver willing to go there. If you were so inclined to go somewhere, then it was a case of “so when do you want to go?” not a case of “Oh by ‘eck the coach is stuck down some lane in the middle of nowhere and everyone should be off site by now”. And of course, for those who found none of those suited them, a casual amble down to a local pub was on offer too, amidst a selection of onsite games such as kerplunk, battleships and...whatever else there was?
Off-site activities included hikes, Cadbury's World, The Scout Memorial and Arboretum as well as time off in the nearby towns.
Lunch was as simple as make it yourself whenever you want, and the evening led into mandatory fun time. Mandatory fun time is definitely not what you think it is, unless you think it was a quiz, in which case well done. As suggested, it was “suggested” we all partake, (although realistically if you didn’t want to you didn’t have to), and everyone was split into teams randomly to encourage mingling. Prizes were won (yay!) and dinner, fire and cheese came naturally out of the aftermath.
Sunday was another free for all day, with some miniature pioneering for those so conditioned and the other games on hand for those who weren’t so keen. After all was said and done, everyone helped to tidy away, departing as transport required, and not leaving the poor organisers to deal with everything. A solid camp!
In summary, Alternative rally provided the thing you’ll miss most coming out of SSAGO and tweaks the design with the experience from being in SSAGO to cater for everyone while not having to stick immense pressure on certain organising individuals. It allowed for a much more free flowing event and most importantly, a huge flowing of cheese. A.N: Seriously I don’t know what this obsession with cheese is about. I’m not even a huge cheese man but everyone else is so I had to mention it....
Want to find out more about SAGGA? Anyone can join, whether you're a current member of SSAGO, a soon-to-be graduate, or already graduated! SAGGA.org.uk