It is four in the morning and the wind driven rain makes walking difficult. The last violent gust of wind convinced me that I needed to leave my nice warm sleeping bag and check if any of the other tents have been flattened or if I need to give assistance. I can hardly believe that this is August and we are in the Ashdown Forest, home of Winnie the Pooh. I bet Pooh bear and his friends are hunkered down in their cosy holes.
I realise that I'm not out here alone; other head torches are bouncing unsteady beams of light around the field. And I smile. These people are out in this downpour to help people who were strangers yesterday. They are taking a middle of the night soaking to help people who are in many ways very different to themselves. We are already a family.
This years Adventure Camp was our biggest ever, fifty five people ranging in age from five weeks old to mid sixties. The families and individuals were also from a wide range of colour, size, ability and sexuality. And despite it raining for the whole week we had a great time.
So, for those of you who didn't make it to Camp this year, what did you miss? Well the normal focal point of the trip, climbing on the sandstone rocks at Stone Farm rocks, did not happen because of the poor weather but what proved to be just as popular was climbing in the trees. The leaf canopy provided a relatively dry environment in which people could practice both lead climbing and top roping in the trees, as well as stirruping (which is climbing relatively branchless trees using slings for upward progress). We also did prussiking up ropes. This is a useful mountaineering technique which can get you out of some tricky situations.
We had the regular abseil and zip wire sessions along with kayaking, archery, swimming, tunnels, indoor climbing and a couple of treasure hunts – our teams won the Blackland Farm treasure hunt. This year we had a couple of Bush craft sessions where people learned how to use tools safely and then made various craft items. We had walks, wide games and wild food hunts. Who would have thought you could have so much fun in the rain.
So we all left the site as a very muddy but happy family.