The Management of Fota campsite have just reported their most successful year to date in their recent annual report.
They had 57 Groups visit the Centre, the weather was largely dry, which is always a great help and reported that their staff worked hard to ensure the smooth running of the Centre.
The report stated: “We made progress on the development front, we took delivery of a 20-foot container for storing all our maintenance equipment and this freed up the Activity Store, the building for the new Campers Kitchen & Wash Up facility is in place."
"We also commenced planning for more projects in 2018. This year again we bad farewell to another Friend of Fota, Colin Heas who passed away at an early age, former County Commissioner, Camp Chief at Kilcully and Chair of the Joint Committee of Scouting and Guiding in Cork, Colin was always on hand to help us out when needed, we all miss him so much.
“The Management Committee continues to meet every two months, in the Cottage or in 4th Cork Cobh Sea Scout Den in the winter, our thanks to them. Use of Fota Scout Centre 2017 has been the best year to date in terms of usage of the Centre with a significant increase in visitors staying overnight 3,763 (+1,224). There were 35 groups from Cork, six groups from Dublin, three groups from Louth along with groups from Clare, Kerry, Tipperary, Waterford and Laois.
From overseas we had one Group from Germany and one Group from the UK.
To date, we have 19 bookings for 2018. Our thanks to our Secretary Tim Calvert who manages all our bookings and deposit collection.
“Our thanks to all the Warden Team, who are often our only direct contact with visiting Groups. We receive great compliments about their work, never complaints. They are too numerous to mention by name. We, at last, managed to remove all the maintenance equipment from the Activity Store, we installed a fridge and freezer for campers, but the store has to be fitted out, we did not get to it this year but will in 2018.
“In the meantime the Programme Development Committee had the woods mapped for new orienteering courses and three courses have now been set up for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scout age ranges with permanent markers high on the trees. Our thanks to the Committee, we look forward to more programme items being added in 2018.
"Marketing Most of our enquiries from Groups come via the website or social media. We need to further develop this area and Conor Crowley has joined us this year to take specific charge of marketing, we look forward to working with him. We want to encourage more groups from UK and Continent to visit Ireland and Fota in particular.
“We received two grants from the ETB this year totalling €3243 which enable us to replace aged fridges and also pay for the electrical equipment in the new Campers Kitchen facility. We are most grateful to the ETB and their Youth Officer - Ruth Griffin, who have been a major supporter over the years. Disappointingly we failed for two years to obtain a County Council grant, this has set us back with the larger projects, however we appreciate that there are great demands for this funding and we have been well supported by Cork County Council in the past.
“The family of the late Johnny Brennan have given us a major boost as they have raised substantial funds in his memory to build and fit out the new Campers Kitchen & Wash Up facility in his memory. Mrs Veronica Brennan was sponsored to take part in the Scouting Ireland expedition to BP peak in Nepal last October and everything raised is being spent on the project.
"We are extremely grateful for this magnificent gesture, it has enabled the whole project to be completed in time for the 2018 season. Our thanks to Alan Wolfe our Treasurer, who keeps us on the straight and narrow and has our accounts submitted on time.
“We have been in regular contact with Victoria Tammadge the Trust Manager at Fota House, who we wish well in her new position. Victoria has visited the Centre and we had a productive meeting with her later in the year on matters of mutual interest. Our thanks also to Stephen Williams who assists us with problems. We thank the Trust for giving us permission to re-open an old door in the front wall of the cottage to provide a proper fire exit from the bunkrooms.
"We are in negotiation with the Trust to see if we can obtain the use of an area of the ‘Station Field’ for activities. This would be a major improvement as when there are two groups using the Centre or a large camp, we have no activity space due to the development of fixed buildings and facilities. The Trust had the dead trees in front of the cottage removed, which was an improvement to the outlook and safety. We also benefitted from all the wood available for the campfire circle.
“Our thanks to David O’Regan from the Office of Public Works and his staff who continue to cut the grass for us and provide us with firewood. This year we drew up a new Health & Safety statement as per guidelines set for campsites by Scouting Ireland.
Our thanks to Liam Howe, a former Chairman of IOSH who carried out the assessment for us. As a result of the assessment, new signage has been erected and we have produced a duplicate book which is signed by the leader in charge arriving at Fota and the warden, this sets out identified hazards and points out to the leader that while we provide the campsite and cottage the leader in charge remains responsible and liable for the activities and actions of the other leaders and youth members in their care.