This is the highlight of the year for both members and many of the leaders. Every year a team of 10-15 adult leaders take away between 40-45 young people to a field outside London. They are preceded by eight to 10 young leaders and older members who form an advance party which sets up the camp infrastructure, water, marquees, cookhouse and toilets.
It began as a Boys and Girls Brigade camp and thought the style of youth work has changed, at camp we retain the flag, bugle calls which give structure to the day and adults are still ‘officers’ when at camp.
In just one jam packed week of camp, we fit in so many activities that you’d be hard pressed to name them all. The (relatively) structured and pre-planned routine helps camp flow smoothly and allows everyone to get the most out of the week. As I’m sure you can imagine we all come home afterwards needing a good few days of solid sleep.
Stuff We Do
During the week, the group will spend much of their time off site either in the local swimming pool (the chlorine is good for them), the local beach (so is salt water) or any sites of interest around the area. In past years, we’ve been adventurous enough to go to quasar centres, activity centres, amusement parks and we’ve even been on safari (twice!). Whilst on site, games and competitions are organised by the more active adults or the seniors in the form of competitive, but not too serious ‘Camp Olympics’. Spontaneous games of volleyball and football spring from nowhere, the tents (being used as shelter from the sun or rain) play host to many a gossipy chat and the marquee gets filled two or three times a day with hungry campers awaiting a delicious hot meal prepared by the camp cooks.
Old BB/GB traditions are still upheld when at 7am campers are woken by ‘reveille’ on the bugle, empty out their tent, wash, peel some spuds for dinner, and lay out their gear in front of their tent. At precisely 8am, some of the more malevolent officers come and inspect the morning’s work. Points are deducted for the tiniest pieces of litter, slight misalignments in the layout of the gear, small imperfections in the spuds and even uneven pegs on the tents! Surprisingly, not only do the campers not object to this treatment but they positively relish the chance to get one up on their rival tents. Prizes are given at the end of the week for winning this competition.
Wide Game / Nightwalk
Other highlights of the week include the wide game and the nightwalk. The wide game is basically an evolved form of hide and seek. It involves finding a suitable forest and letting a bunch of excited teenagers run around to find a hiding place. Ten minutes is all they have to conceal themselves before the seniors and officers raid the forest in search of the younger camp members. Each ‘hider’ has ten lives (well, slips of paper with their name written on) one of which they forfeit to a ‘seeker’ every time they are caught. Contact must be made if a catch is legitimate. The wide game proves to be one of the most high-adrenaline, exciting games that it is possible to play. Similarly, the nightwalk has the ability to get the campers hearts racing. Equipped with only a compass, a map and some torches and instructions (which sometimes make sense), groups of campers are dropped of at specific locations in the local area and they have to find their way back to the campsite via a complex treasure hunt through some extremely tough terrain. This is another competitive exercise, where teams are judged on the time taken, the accuracy of their answers to the treasure hunt questions and their ability to complete assigned tasks en route.
Over the course of the week, the more outgoing campers rehearse their very own plays, comedies, dances, songs and other such wonderful things ready to be performed on the final night of camp in what is known as the camp concert. After this display of amateur dramatics, the prize giving ceremony can begin.
With all the campers huddled around an extremely hot bonfire, the CO can start his task of stringing out the results of the weeks contests for as long as he can possibly get away with. Prizes for inspection, camp Olympics, the nightwalk and various other crazy camp competitions are given out with more enthusiasm than should be allowed.