There is something atavistic in our relationship to fire.
We are drawn ineluctably to the flames and I don’t know whether it is the thousands of years when our ancestors relied on fire for warmth, food and keeping predatory animals at bay which has genetically hard wired our fascination with it; or whether it is just the beauty of the flickering light. But the hypnotic affect of a camp fire is almost spiritual.
After a day of adventure and a great meal and possibly a night time wide game, people gather around the fire. There is usually at least one guitar and often a bit of singing but people still talk and the music is a pleasant background.
On this magical night however there was no talking. A tall blonde woman approached carrying a curiously shaped case. She opened it and took out a Celtic harp. The stillness around her spread out like ripples on a pond as the first golden harmonics floated on the air. The people around the fire were rapt as the woman’s fingers flew over the strings conjuring magic from the instrument. An already enraptured audience were further transported when the woman began to sing, bringing to life the songs of the ancient Gaeltacht.
This was just one of the highlights of this years Adventure Camp. The Ashdown Forest is alive with enchantment. During the day there is the sound of woodpeckers tap tapping food from the trees and the clanking of geese overhead as their squadrons fly in V formation to Weirwood reservoir. At night the lack of light pollution coaxes constellations into being and we go to sleep listening to the call and response of owls.
With 50 people in total attending the Camp we were at our full capacity. In theory we could easily take extra people, there is always a waiting list but there is a limit to how many people we can incorporate into what we want to be a (albeit extended) family environment. We added an extra day this year – eight days and seven nights – just to be able to fit in all the things we wanted to do. In total we ran over 50 sessions, splitting the group in two for many of the activities. Our major new activity this year was ‘The Perch’ which really got the adrenalin flowing. It involved climbing a telegraph pole to a small platform then jumping for a trapeze bar. The kids did far better than the adults. Other activities included climbing at the local rocks and on an artificial wall, abseiling, zip wire, wide games, kayaking, assault course, yoga, running, swimming, bushcraft, crate challenge, atal atal, making and competition, archery, wild food hunt, treasure hunt and various craft sessions.
As always everyone took part in the day to day running of the camp; carrying and chopping wood, fetching water, cooking cleaning etc.
The feedback we got was very positive.