Members of the Snow Patrol of the 4th Louth Scout Troop, St. Oliver’s receiving the Phoenix Trophy from Una O'Grady, Programme Commissioner, Scouting Ireland - from left: Conor Kierans, Holly Hilliard, Nessa Lynch, Aimee Mynes, Stephen Kerr Rafferty, Daniel Taggart, Stephen Moore, Patrol Leader Conor O'Dwyer.
There were huge celebrations in Drogheda on Sunday last as the news filtered through from Cork that the boys and girls of the Snow Patrol from the 4th Louth Scout Troop, St. Oliver’s, had won the National All-Ireland Campcraft Competition, the Phoenix Challenge.
The Phoenix Challenge is a four-day competition which involved 85 of the best patrols from all over the island of Ireland competing for the coveted Phoenix Trophy. The competition tests the scouts ability and stamina over four tough days of camping.
Day one is when the scouts build their pioneering structures, their campsite for the next four days. The standards are exceptionally high and scouts need to ensure that their ropework is tight and neat and that all their work is neat, tidy and level.
There is a special Scout Engineering trophy available for the best Campsite Gate and 4th Louth were the favourites having won that trophy in 2018. Their gate this year comprised of twin towers with a spiral staircase leading up to an upper deck, truly astonishing given the time constraints on the site build element of the competition.
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With the campsites built by each of the 85 patrols within the six and a half hour timeframe, the scouts were then tested on their cooking ability with each patrol given a list of previously unseen ingredients and required to prepare a two course meal.
On days two and three of the competition the scouts took part in a series of programme activity challenges, each one being assessed by the team of inspectors. These challenges included raft-building and sailing at the National Rowing Centre, Orienteering and hiking at Farran Forest and a series of team-based challenges at the Showgrounds in Cork.
At the end of each of the programme activity challenge days, the scouts again were inspected as they prepared and cooked a two course meal on the open fire.
The final day of the competition, required each patrol to return their site back to nature and, in the true ‘leave no trace’ spirit, they were assessed for their environmental impact as well as their equipment and uniform inspection.
At the closing ceremony each Patrol was in turn awarded their standard, with 25 of the 85 patrols being awarded the Gold standard (80%+).
The Drogheda Scouts retained their Gold standard for the 11th year in a row assuring them of a top 25 finish. They were then also awarded the Programme Activity Challenges Trophy for scoring the highest over the two days of team-based challenges. This was followed by the Scout Engineering Trophy for having built the best Gate structure of all the 85 competing patrols.
The excitement was mounting as the placings were announced starting with 25th place and working down towards the overall winners.
With just three places to be announced the excitement was almost too much to bear for the Drogheda Scouts.
Third place went to a patrol from Waterford, then second place was announced and, when it went to a patrol from Dublin, the Drogheda Scouts knew they had secured a historic win. All Ireland champions and winners of the Phoenix Challenge.
The eight Scouts proudly made their way to the stage to collect the coveted Phoenix Trophy and so to kick of a year of celebration. It is only the second time in the history of Scouting Ireland that the Drogheda Scouts have won the Phoenix Challenge, the first time being in 2015.
The 4th Louth Scouts departed Cork with the Programme Activity Challenges Trophy, the Scout Engineering Trophy and the Phoenix National Campcraft Trophy. A great day for Drogheda and a great day for County Louth.