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This Scout Association competition The HAT Challenge has been running for more years than many of the leaders could remember several admitting they used to take part when they were much younger. The competition is open to scouts (male and female) between the ages of 11-15 years in teams of 4 or 5 from the Dunstable District and involves 36 hours of games, puzzles, endurance tests, intelligence tests and a lot of fun. The name comes from the original name and sponsor the Hope and Anchor (Trophy) public house. The pub closed over 15 years ago and was later demolished, but the competition has not missed one year since its inception.

Taking place in a different Scout Association campsite each year, the competition was focussed this time on Milton Bryan Scout Activity Centre and the large Woburn estate nearby.

My commission and role on the competition was to provide a film crew and to then film, edit and produce a 15 minute promotional DVD. Due to the Scout Association rules on adult helpers everyone had to be CRB cleared before they could join the competition team which included my crew comprising of my wife Lois and friends Scott Bailey and Antony Elmes. This involved some form filling and an interview with each crew member with the Scouts ‘District leadership’ team approximately 3 months prior to the competition. The Scout Association takes its child protection issues very seriously.

Everyone was given clearance to assist in the competition so my preparations could begin. This involved myself attending a few of the planning meetings to get an idea of the type of games and tests the scouts would be facing and thus an idea of what equipment we would need to film it.

The final equipment list included 1 x HD video camera, 3 x DSLR’s (with video capability), directional microphones with wind mufflers,1 x hand camcorder, 1 Go Pro camera, several tripods, video lamp and infra red video lamp. All movie footage and still photography was recorded on memory cards. Battery chargers and spare batteries were brought also and as the scouts had the use of a hut for the weekend, recharging batteries was not an issue.

The competition started with a night game which involved a lot of young people running around in the dark, the video camera had a night vision setting which with the infra red lamp allowed filming in darkness. A large bonfire also provided some natural light and the video lamp allowed a few colour interviews with the teams to take place during the exercise. All teams camped overnight, although a few stayed up most of the night.

Next morning everyone was given a full english breakfast and then split into two groups. Group one set off on a staggered start on a 5 mile hike with several stops en route where games and exercises were set up.The other half of the competitors stayed on the campsite where more games and exercises were arranged. At lunchtime the two groups changed places with the campsite half now doing the hike and vice versa. I split our team into two groups also, two cameramen staying on site and two heading out to film the hike and activity bases. The hike was a round route so one cameraman set off to meet the lead team with the second following the hikes as they progressed along the hike. The intention was to film as many different scout teams at as many different stops as was practical.

The weather deteriorated over the day with heavy downpours restricting the footage that could be gained. Umbrellas and camera covers offered some protection but even the scouts took shelter at one point.

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By late afternoon the weather improved and as the last team arrived back from the hike, the last few teams were completing the on site base activities.

The competition concluded with a presentation ceremony.

All memory cards were up loaded into Magix Pro editing programme and the film footage edited with a number of stills added in. Popular music was also added to the film to make it more appealing to the young people. The overall ethos of the film was to show scouts enjoying themselves, so any clips or photographs that showed any young person in a negative way were immediately dismissed and not used.

The edit took a few weeks to finalise and a generic ‘scout’ DVD jacket and disc label was created. All the scouts who took part met again in January for a quiz night. While the scores were totalled up at the end of the evening the DVD was shown to them all for the first time. Feedback was positive with 8 copies of the DVD sold to individual scout groups in an effort to boost their participation numbers for the HAT Challenge 2015.

I have been asked by the organiser if my team would film the competition again in 2015.

 

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