I'm involved in a youth organisation, we have around five hundred thousand members in the UK alone and number in the millions around the world. Now, I can see your mind working, you're thinking 'here we go, a pot-bellied, bearded pedo...' but consider this; you'll remember being young, all the things you used to want to do but your parents wouldn't take you or you didn't have the money? Go-karting, gorge walking, amusement arcades, rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, kayaking (different things apparently) rifle shooting, laserquest, all types of local attractions, water parks, sailing, horse riding, basically you can name your activity; all the things you wanted do as a child but couldn't; we do them all. Not only that, we do it with that special section of society who can enjoy it with contagious, wreckless abandonment; young people.
I don't wish to labour the point but if your still sitting there thinking Scouts is a bit naff then stay in your chair, it's where you belong.
I say all this by introduction and to give some context, I am an Explorer leader (14 to 18 age group.) I don't have a uniform and nor do the young folk; we're not into that side of it and it works fine. We do outdoor activities though and this summer plan to walk the West Highland Way, to that end we've been doing practice hikes these past few weekends, its no easy feat walking one hundred miles unsupported with full kit; you can't just turn up and do it.
So it was we found ourselves for the third time after walking 12 miles or so with full kit in the car park at the John Muir Country Park near Dunbar watching as a steady stream of booze-laden young people descended upon our normal camp site. We'd seen this before in fact but you can make certain loose assumptions about a young person's attitude dependent on hair, clothing and deportment; here is my incredibly rough and entirely unreliable guide.
Hair: If its close cropped this usually spells trouble, if it's been very obviously dyed by friends over a kitchen sink; ditto. However, if it's floppy to the point where from the back its hard to tell if they're male or female; you're probably safe.
Clothing: Sports gear? Avoid. Next/River Island? Could get stabby. M&S/looks like mum bought it? You'll be fine.
Deportment: If they're walking and chatting this is fine, even if the chat is boisterous, they're young; it's a character trait. However, if they're weaving about, simultaneously trying to swig from a can of cheap lager, trying to finger their girlfriend and punch their best mate for looking at her then you don't really want to get involved.
The crowds moving through the woods and car park failed to varying degrees on all three tests so we decided to go elsewhere.
Elsewhere in terms of camping is hard work, there isn't that many places to go even although East Lothian is fairly rural. I did think we'd be ok in Gosford Woods though, well away from the beach because, well, it can get a wee bit sticky there and I mean that literally.
Gosford Woods sits between Longniddry and Aberlady so covers a big area, we set up camp away from the main road and any buildings but we had to park our cars near an estate road so they would be seen. We set up camp around 9:00pm, at 11:45pm the police turned up, although they weren't in uniform and their car was unmarked. I approached their torch light and asked, 'who do we have here then' not fully knowing but suspecting they'd be the police. A deep voiced WPC answered 'Lothian and Borders Police is who you have, do you have permission to be here?' I think she must have been having another bad hair day because she wasn't happy. I said no, she said you'll have to move on. I explained who we were and that I lived on the estate for years, indeed my family still do but no; she insisted we move on. I told her I knew the estate factor (which I do) but still no, we'd have to pack up and go. I was about to ask where we were supposed to go when the other officer stepped in with a much cooler head, perhaps realising the precedent of forcing some Scouts camping in the middle of no where to move along might not be good to set.
We were interrogated and person checked, the missing persons list was consulted, one of the kids we had with us is the local minister's son, I realise this sometimes doesn't count for much but he really is as a minister's son should be; very well behaved.
We explained why we were there and that perhaps their time would be better spent along at John Muir dealing with that problem but it seems complaints made by some miserable nimby about a small camp they couldn't even see from their home takes precedence over several dozen young people swapping STD's and underwear in the woods near a major coastal car park which incidentally was the initiative these officers were a part of, some sort of coastal car park safety thing, ok, lets not mince words; an anti-dogging patrol.
My point is this: the people who called the police are first in the queue to complain about young folk but when it comes to doing something about it, they are conspicuously absent. If you try to do something anywhere near them they squeal like stuck pigs at the injustice of it. With the exception of that wasp-chewing WPC the police were fine (including the two officers who visited us the following morning after some female had brayed & whinnied enthusiastically at us through the trees, I assume she also wanted us to leave the estate although I couldn't really tell because all I could hear was a low honking noise coming from a hole in the front of her doughy over-fed face.) It's these stuck-up greyhound-faced nimby toffs that annoy me, I'm no socialist but I can see their point when you're told to get off some private land despite the fact the Land Reform Act (Scotland) means that provided you're not causing a nuisance and your not using someones birdbath as a urinal then its actually fine to camp in these places. In any case, what ever happend to reason? What happened to Dick and Julian and the rest of the gang heading to the farm house for some scrumptious cheese and yummy eggs, they're more likely to get an asbo these days, poor Timmy would end up in a kennel somewhere yowling for his lesbian master George, (well it was obvious to me.)
I would just like to take this opportunity (even if only their Butler reads this) to say to the chinless nimby snobs who called the police; you can kiss my common arse. To the miserable WPC? Why don't you get a job you fucking like.