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Gordon Mackellar

Summer Camp 1977


Wiltz, Luxembourg, 1st July, 1977


In keeping with the international tradition of scouting, Gleniffer scouts decided to organise a camp abroad. The previous year he had been in on a touring holiday with his family and discovered a scout centre in Witlz and decided this would be a good location for our first international camp for a while.

After a year of planning, sponsored walks, car washes and discos, 10 Gleniffer scouts, 5 Anchor scouts and 3 leaders were ready and able to set off for two weeks in Wiltz.
To get there we shared a coach with the Greenock Scout Association Pipe Band who were doing a series of performances in France and Belgium. Indeed to our surprise they invited us to march through two Belgian towns behind them. As it had been a long time since our scouts had marched in private, let alone publicly, the leaders were somewhat apprehensive about how they would perform, but it did not take them long to get into the swing of things (especially in their kilts) and were soon marching in time with the band. On both occasions we were rewarded for our efforts with a civic reception. Witlz is a tourist resort, situated in the heart of the Luxembourg Ardennes, where the Luxembourg Scout Association own a number of villas and campsites scattered round the town. Each year scouts and guides from all over the world stay there, so it was an ideal opportunity for our scouts to meet those from other countries.

This “camp” in fact is a bit of a misnomer as we stayed in the relative luxury of the Villa Mathieu. There were two dormitories, a leaders’ room, kitchen, dining room and washrooms.
It was not long before the scouts made a big impression on the scouting community. We were invited to an international campfire on our first night in Wiltz. We were dressed in full scout uniform, kilts included, looking very smart. We arrived just as the campfire was about to begin – Stuart Hall takes up the story:
“As we walked into the campfire there was a sudden burst of laughter (because of our kilts). We all had pure beamers! We took our places on the wooden benches and we seemed to be the topic of all conversation. When the campfire started, everything was going well and we were enjoying it until some music was played and we were told the stage was free. Some girls got up and came over to the boys and asked them to dance. Of course they got up, but only after a bit of persuasion. It seemed to be us with the kilts on with whom they all wanted to dance !” Indeed the kilts attracted Dutch, Irish (Down Patrick)


and French guides as the camp progressed and the scouts became less reluctant to wear them.
At future campfires the scouts led the singing on occasions and performed a number of sketches which we had practiced at our own campfires in the Villa.
One sketch involved inviting volunteers; one to act as a bar, two as a table. All were on hands and knees, we then put glasses of water on their backs. The climax was when they were asked to take the water off their backs without spilling them and soaking themselves! We later led the audience in “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”
Three patrols were formed: Mandingo, Patton and Cool. Each day began with the ever popular inspection of both uniforms and kits, but after that anything could happen! Typical spare time activities included:
• Make a sun hat for the P.L. and a patrol plaque - Make a clothes line - Write a log
• Translate the following phrase into a many languages as possible – “We are Scottish Scouts and we are staying in Wiltz until next Wednesday”
• Write a campfire sketch and song - Draw a map of Wiltz - Meetings with scouts and guides from other countries.
During our stay we went on a number of hikes, mainly through the surrounding forests. It was particularly interesting for the boys as this was the area where the Battle of the Bulge took place, evidence of which could still be seen; shrapnel damage on the walls of the castle, tank relics and so on.
One afternoon we decided to go on a “stroll” to Esch-sur-Sure, about 4 miles away by road. The stroll however turned into a very tiring expedition as the heat reached 30 degrees C in the shade. Luckily there was a café half way, so we were able to have ice cold cokes. It took us about 3 hours to reach this picturesque little town. After exploring the town and castle most of us were still tired, nevertheless, we had to start the long trek back in the intense heat – uphill all the way!

hike plan

After an hour our spirits soared when  an empty bus stopped and the driver asked if we wanted a lift. Needless to say we accepted and arrived back 2 hours earlier than expected.

As the weather was so hot, a regular activity was a trip to the swimming pool. We were all a bit shocked to find our hair was too long and we would have to wear bathing caps. As one boy put it – “We were conned into buying 35F bathing caps”.

bath plan

Not all the events were scouting activities as there were many things to see in the surrounding countryside; the battle of the Bulge Museum, a boat trip from Wasserbillig to Remich along the River Mosel to see the wine cellars of St Martins. The highlight of this trip was a singing competition on the boat with some Irish Guides whom we had met in Wiltz.

We also spent a day in the city of Luxembourg and an afternoon at a local air display in Noertrange. We saw air displays, model aircraft and parachutists with flags from many countries flying in from their legs.  The last two days of the camp were indeed spent under canvas at Merkenweld in Belgium along with the Greenock Scout Association Pipe Band.


 We took advantage of having the bus there and toured some  of the First and Second World War battle sites; Dunkirk in France and Ypres in Belgium. At the Menin Gate the pipe band played as a sign of respect to those who had fallen in World War 1. Some of our relatives’ names were on that gate.

In contracts we also visited the city of Brugge which had been virtually untouched by the wars. We were able to see the canals and beautiful old buildings which were built along them and on their doorsteps, the famous lace makers of that city.

At last the camp was finished – to end it at a campfire with the pipe band in full blast and our scouts on full voice entertaining and joining in with the Belgian Scouts who had been our hosts for the past few days.

Upon our return to the tents we sang “Taps” and said a final prayer thanking God for the friends we had made, the fun we had had and for looking after us during our camp.

The following morning we struck camp, packed the bus and headed off to Ostend, where we would catch the ferry back to Dover and then up the motorway to Paisley and our waiting parents.

Summer Camp 1977 – Wilz, Luxembourg

Gleniffer Scouts

Ian Watson     Stuart Sinclair    Kenneth McLeod   Malcolm Mitchell   John Crossan

Stuart Baird   Graham Harper   Alan Grassie   Stuart Hall    Matt Canavan

Anchor Scouts                        Gerald Costello   Rab Dickson     Tam Dickson

Leaders    Gordon MacKellar      Stuart Aitken     Peter Walsh

Costs               Bus -                     £30.00          Hostel -        £10.00          Camp -                         £1.00

·                                   Food -                     £34.00      Total -                               £75.00

Chant for Camp Fire

Mandingo Patrol     Leader: Is everybody all right?               All: We’re all right       Leader: Is everybody all right?

All: We’re all right                  We’re all right                You’re all right          Everybody’s all right    ALL RIGHT!

Cool Patrol          Give us a G      – G    Give us an I              – I      Give us an N           - N     Give us a G              – G

Give us an E        – E       What have you got?  – GINGE!

Patton Patrol

Porridge!                  Oats!            Porridge!      Oats!      Porridge! Porridge! Porridge!     Oats! Oats! Oats!