In the 29th (Pondtail) Beaver colony this term we have been learning all about explorers, maps and navigation; we particularly like the Viking sagas which relate the start of adventure travel, so for our end of term activity we decided to go forth on a Viking quest to use all that we had learnt.
We arrived at our usual scout hut, dressed in Viking uniforms from earlier in the term, and made our Viking camp; each of us then put together a real wooden boat capable of sailing across dangerous oceans to lands far away.
The adventures then began with a ‘Thingvellir’ or Viking law council where our Viking traits were agreed; these would be demonstrated on the quest and included:-
Justice, Courage, Generosity, Hospitality, Truth, Steadfastness and Wisdom.
It was further agreed that every Viking displaying these traits would receive a fair share of any profits made from the quest, which was to find the lost kingdom of Asgard, and specifically, the ancient hall of Valhalla where all Vikings who had died in combat were believed to be laid at rest; all the gold from past Viking warriors may be buried there. We would be trusting in all the Norse gods to lead us on this quest and to show us the way.
The first message from the gods told us to start a dangerous voyage in search of Asgard, so with true courage we set sail hoping that Thor and Frigga would keep us safe.
On reaching dry land once again, the Norse gods led us to an ancient path leading to Asgard; this had not been used for over 1000 years and great care and skill was therefore needed to walk along it, past ancient lakes and through dense woodland. Pictures and descriptions of the gods led the way and taught us about the Viking beliefs and their ancient language and runes.
After what seemed like many, many miles, we reached Asgard, shown by an ancient roadsign. The gods then told us to take Valhalla by force which was at the end of the path. This was easy with our weapons and no resistance was offered at all. Valhalla then began to reveal its secrets; a sign showed that Odin, father of all gods, had decreed that a Vikings haul of gold would be given to anybody worthy enough to find it. Unfortunately, Laki, the god of tricks and fire, had been put in charge of organising the hunt, so we were expecting a difficult time. Maybe Laki was responsible for the mosquitoes as well, who attacked us with a vengeance; it seemed to be those poor Beaver leaders who suffered most though, not us Vikings !
The trail led us to another part of the woods, away from Valhalla and Asgard; here we had to divide into our lodges and to follow a trail of runes. These of course meant nothing to us since they were written with old Norse letters, but very soon the trails led to clues which allowed us to translate them into good old Beaver language. They still made no sense, however, so that rascal Laki was obviously up to his tricks again. Perseverance prevailed and yet another clue told us how to re-arrange the letters to tell us where the final clues were hidden; the instructions also said to re-unite as one group so that we could compare what we had found. This turned out to be keys, maps and grid references which made no sense to us at the time, so we decided to return to our Viking base for a well earned rest and some good old Viking hospitality of fried fish accompanied with that fancy new foreign fare from the south called ‘french fries’.
Once suitably rested and fed, Badger talked us through the clues we had found, which obviously had something to do with the location of the Vikings haul of gold. There were two Ordnance Survey maps of differing scales and each had a grid reference for it; with Badger’s help this allowed us to identify the approximate position of something hidden, which appeared to be in the Pondtail area. The final map was very detailed; although it didn’t say, we cleverly worked out that it was for the hut and garden. The grid reference for this map identified the exact location…..of something….and it was hidden in the veggie patch ! The other clues found were keys and a gardening fork so we guessed that there was a treasure chest to be dug up. Frantically we searched in the earth for several minutes without finding anything.
Then Badger showed us how to work along the area with a spade to see if we could detect the chest just below the surface; you could feel the tension in the air as each time the spade hit only earth. And then……success…….there was a dull thud as the spade hit something wooden……Eagerly we scraped away the soil to reveal some boards over a large hole containing…… a chest…..a real live treasure chest…..Quickly it was dragged onto the lawn and eventually opened once we had found the correct keys, which was all part of Laki still playing tricks on us.
We were very cross of course, and we told Badger so in no uncertain terms; “why did we have to walk all that way when the treasure was in the garden all the time ? “. Badger explained that it wasn’t him but the Viking gods who were testing our cleverness and Viking traits, to prove that we were worthy of the gold as agreed at the ‘Thingvellir’ held earlier.
We then had a celebration Up-Helly-Aa with a real fire, on which we roasted marshmallows to spread on our Viking biccies; and in memory of all the Viking warriors who had gone before we burnt our Viking ship out of respect and to symbolise that our journey was complete and successful.
We then went to bed and Badger read us a story about the Viking Leif Ericsson growing up and eventually discovering Canada.
The next morning was horrible and wet so we could not go outside and do our planned chariot racing. Instead, we had a good brekky and re-convened our Thingvellir to summarise what we had achieved. All Vikings had proved their worth and therefore received a share of the gold.
Our well earned badges were given out and we then went home, proud of what we had achieved and very confident of doing more adventurous activities in the future.