Still fresh after all these years.
We have been running the Adventure Camps for a long time now but each one is unique. I have been thinking about this recently and wondering why this is.
It is the people, or more accurately the human dynamics. It is the way people who have been on previous camps can take the role of ‘old hand’ and guide new people through living as part of a large tented community.
It can be daunting living in a field for the first time if you are from the city but having friendly help and advice makes the transition fun. And we can all relive our first time through their eyes.
There are other things which make the camp different and exciting each year. We listen to what people say and suggestions made in previous years can be incorporated into the way the camp functions or what activities are run.
So what was new this year?
Well, Bushcraft, which had been such a popular activity last year took a more prominent place this year, with more sessions and expanded content. From making practical items such as cordage from nettles, tent pegs and pot holders to bracelets and necklaces. We learned knots and how to carve wood. Above all there was a great emphasis on safety with the first Bushcraft session focussing on how to use knives saws and axes. These sessions work and we have never had a serious accident in all our years of running the camp.
Other activities which came under the Bushcraft banner were the four essentials of survival in the wilderness; shelter - we built several types of shelter from natural materials and five of the builders tested them out by spending what they insisted was a comfortable night in them. We also set up a hammock and tarp, although this was used more as a swing than an improvised shelter; fire - various fire lighting techniques were tried, including solar, electrical, spark and friction; water - we purified water by filtration and boiling; food – our wild food hunts have always been really popular and this year with the bumper mushroom crop we managed to gather lots of goodies.
An addition to our fun in the trees session (stirruping, prussiking and climbing) was the caving ladder – good wobbly fun.
This year also saw Spanna running yoga and running sessions, Julia running a singing session and tales around the bonfire making an appearance.Andrew and Farah’s night walk (discovering the woods anew, in the dark and without the use of a torch) was incredibly popular, such that they had to split it into two parts with the smaller kids doing the first part and the older kids and adults doing the more adventurous second part.
Running throughout the week was training for the Atlatl competition. The atlatl is one version of the prehistoric throwing stick, variations of which exist on every continent. The winners were, in the junior section Esther, who won a night in the hammock and in the Adult section, Richard, who won one of the much coveted Craggers t shirts. Congratulations to both of you.
Bigger and better
Buster, our newest badged volunteer, first camped at Blackland Farm when he was two months old – and it snowed. He has been to every Adventure Camp and after helping out on several previous camps became an official volunteer this year. After working on activities all day and when the rest of us volunteers indulged in post dinner relaxation Buster would gather the kids together and take them for one of his very popular wide games.
Still the same
With all the new activities we somehow still managed to do the things without which the Adventure Camp would not be complete.
After the exciting weather we had last year it was a relief to have the sunshine for our regular thrills such as abseiling, zip wire, crate challenge, tunnels, archery, kayaking, swimming and the end of camp treasure hunt.
Let’s not forget
Behind the scenes, a dedicated bunch of volunteers start preparing for every camp months in advance, by designing posters, getting publicity round to various agencies, sorting out the often complicated booking process, sending out confirmation letters, kit lists and other information, booking accommodation and activities, hiring transport, buying food and sorting out deliveries, planning menus etc. While at camp volunteers sort out all the less glamorous stuff such as organising rotas for cleaning cooking and washing up, handing out shower tokens, making sure that every one is where they need to be, at the right time and with the right equipment. After the camp there is the clear up and all the bureaucratic stuff to do. Not glamorous but essential.
To the attendees, volunteers, funders and, this year, the weather, thank you for making it such a great camp. Roll on next year.