It had been raining for the entire week and was still pouring down when we set off on the bus for an early autumn weekend camp. I definitely looked like a towny, pitching a borrowed tent in the dark by the light of the torch on my phone, but at least the rain had stopped and, by morning, it was bright, sunny and warm as we had breakfast and set off on an adventure walk through the woods.
There was a double rope across the river, the top one arguably a bit too slack to be any use, but by putting your weight forwards to keep it taut and sliding your hands and feet one at a time along the ropes you could sidle across to the other bank. At Craggers Camp there’s no such word as “can’t”!
I did it by myself the first time and then my 3 year old wanted a go. We shuffled across together and got to the other side dry and with a huge sense of achievement – which meant we had to do it another couple of dozen times.
All the other kids wanted to try and soon everyone was taking turns to shuffle across. All of a sudden my 7-year-old, who was crossing the river via the stepping stones while my daughter and I went by rope yet again, announced that he’d fallen in the river. Distracted, I looked up, taking my weight off the loose top rope and immediately swinging feet over head.
“Mummy?” she said, head down, gamely clinging on with both hands, feet still resting on what, until recently, had been the bottom rope.
Since I didn’t fancy a soaking, I clamped my legs round her and swung her down so her feet somehow landed on the shore in an inelegant, but dry, heap. It’s good to learn not to panic when dangling upside down over a river.
We learnt to find fresh hazelnuts and use the gate latch to break them open, found edible wild mushrooms and learnt which ones to avoid, climbed trees and learned to identify a few.
By the end of the weekend my kids were happily exploring the woods independently with all the other kids at the camp, running wild in the falling leaves. We went home with a healthy glow under the mud – much better than a weekend in town.