Scouts and Explorer Scouts from all over Montgomeryshire spent a Saturday in the Hafren Forest, near Llanidloes. They were taking part in Montgomeryshire Scouts’ annual Operation Commando navigation and evasion challenge.

Equipped with maps and compasses, but with no set routes, teams of Scouts (boys and girls aged 10-14) had to find their own way to six bases located in the forest. But it wasn’t just a test of their navigation skills, they also had to evade catcher teams who were roaming the forest. These catcher teams were made up of Explorer Scouts (aged 14-18) who were on a mission to find all the Scout commando teams.


The winning two Scout commando teams were: a) the team that made it around all the bases in the shortest time, and b) the team that was caught the fewest times in the day. The winning Explorer Scout team was the one that caught most of or all of the commando teams in the shortest time.

The infant River Severn runs through the forest and provided an additional challenge for the Scouts as they criss-crossed the forest. Quite a few of the Scouts got wet, but they were prepared for this and made use of the spare clothing that they were carrying in their rucksacks. Most teams took around six hours to complete their mission.


Michael Smith, one of the team of leaders running the event, said: “The event provides the Scouts with an opportunity to apply their skills training to the challenges of the great outdoors. It also gives them the experience of making team decisions without the close adult supervision they experience elsewhere. They soon appreciate the value of good teamwork.

"The event was supported by 27 adult leaders and helpers, all volunteers whose commitment and enthusiasm makes it possible to put on such adventurous events for the Scouts.”

The Abermule Scouts commando team had an exciting time, as confirmed by Owen, who said: “We had to cross a river, and that crossing was OK. But then we had to cross an even worse one. I think it was very fun, except for my feet.”

Tomas, 11, who had only recently moved up from Cubs to Scouts stated: “I fell in the river and I was drenched. It was one of the hardest days of my life, but it was the most adventurous day and one of the best days at the same time.”


Henry added: “We had lots of fun. But it was kind of tortuous as well!”

Katie of Llanidloes Scouts said: “I thought today was really good. As we crawled between the trees there were a lot of pine needles that stuck into us, and there were a lot of river crossings.”

Annie added that: “There was also a lot of running as we tried to escape from the catchers.”

Lily concluded: “We got really wet. But I’d definitely come again, it was really good fun.”

Joanna, an Explorer Scout from Four Crosses said: “It was my second time as a catcher. I enjoyed it last year, so I came back for more this year, and it was good fun.”

Tom, another member of her catcher team, added: “This was my second time as a catcher too. We had to run across the river to catch some of the commando teams, and some were difficult to track and find. But we managed to catch them all eventually. It was a good day.”


Hafren Forest was used courtesy of Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Working with NRW, the Scouts avoided the areas where larch disease is affecting the trees, and as an additional precaution they disinfected their hiking boots to avoid carrying any infection from the forest at the end of the day.