Summer Camp is an unforgettable annual trip that nearly the entire Unit goes on. This year we spent twelve days on the island of Jersey – read on to find out what happened…
Also make sure to check out our camp videos at the bottom of this blog post, or over on our YouTube channel!
Saturday morning saw us assembling in Scout Park at 4:30am(!), ready for Summer Camp in Jersey. Having clambered onto the assorted minibuses and cars we hit the road and headed to Portsmouth, to catch the ferry to Jersey.
16 hours later (the ferry journey was 11 hours) we arrived at Jersey Scout Centre. Despite the darkening skies, we worked together to quickly unload all the kit and set up our bell tents. We were also very excited and proud to welcome Esme, Tilly and Bradford, who had travelled to Jersey after completing their Explorer Belt expedition in Italy. For dinner that night we ordered 41 meals from the local fish and chip shop – such a big order that the shop was actually forced to close early! After a long day we all sat around and enjoyed our meal, before heading off to bed, ready for 11 more days of camp.
Sunday was our first full day on Summer Camp this year, and we used the morning to get camp set up. We put up the marquee, the Jurte, a rather wonky flag pole, a washing up station, a den, and a majestic camp sofa. Pioneering stuff always makes a campsite feel like a home; this week it was no different, the inexhaustible supply of pioneering poles at the Jersey Scout Centre served us well.
That afternoon we walked down the beach to a local surf shop and the entire Unit had a surfing lesson for an hour or so, some of us even managed the incredible task of actually ‘doing a surfing’.
Before dinner that night we got a presentation from the just-finished and still-exhausted Explorer Belt team and found out all about some of their highs, lows, laughs, tears and other stressful impromptu hospital trips! (Explorer Belt blog to follow!)
Sea kayaking was our first ‘day out’ activity; a mix of kayaking in the sea and jumping off small cliffs. In the morning we woke up to a warm summery day which had us all excited for this activity and rightly so! Sea kayaking was fantastic and mixing with the warmth and the feeling of actual summer on a Summer Camp (something you’d have to pinch yourself for if you’d gone to Scotland last year!). It was one of my favourite activities of this camp, especially with the highlight of watching Lucas being ridiculously chilled out about hurling himself off the largest jump on the activity which made most of us feel sick just looking at. Overall an amazing second activity of an amazing summer camp.
We started our fourth day on camp with some pioneering, improving our now branded ‘playground’ area by adding a lookout tower and swing to the camp sofa. The slightly wonky flagpole also had a makeover and made use of WWESU’s creativity and experience to erect a floating flagpole.
Choosing the most rainy afternoon of the entire camp, each of our Patrols set out to complete an incident hike, where each checkpoint has a challenge. With the Patrol Leaders stationed at checkpoints along the 6km route, Assistant Patrol Leaders led their teams through the route and to complete the ‘incidents’ along the way. From making promotional WWESU videos (check them out here), to pioneering a sedan chair, to treating an unknown injury, all the teams performed exceptionally well. The day was finished up with hot drinks to warm up.
On Monday, whilst sea kayaking, Nick had pointed out a group climbing a rather precarious cliff just above the sea and loudly declared ‘that cliff looks pretty precarious, I wouldn’t want to be them!’. Naturally, then, the cliff we went to on Wednesday was that exact one!
In the morning one half of the Unit met the local guides/climbing instructors and we made our way down some gorgeous cliff paths to a small, isolated headland and we spent a good few hours climbing a selection of varied, fun routes and eating our lunch surrounded by the coastal scenery. In the afternoon the other half of the Unit did the same before coming back to camp for tacos.
Thursday saw us heading into St Helier, Jersey’s capital, for the annual Battle of Flowers parade. Originally a celebration for the coronation of King Edward VII, the parade consists of floats made up of lots of flowers, and is certainly very impressive!
We watched from the side as floats drove past – everything from a WWI tribute, to a recreation of Bikini Bottom (from Spongebob, if you weren’t aware).
We also claimed our two minutes of fame when we (only slightly!) ambushed the event’s presenters, who were also broadcasting on BBC Radio Jersey, and asked for a shout out. (We have a very hardworking publicity team. No, of course I’m not biased). Anyway, I ended up both talking about Wild Wolf in front of all the event attendees, and giving a shout out to Emily, since it was her 18th birthday.
Overall, the parade was a great chance to see a bit more of Jersey’s culture, have a fun day out in the sun, and of course also promote the Unit to the (admittedly quite small) population of Jersey!
On Friday we had a “lie in”, which meant that instead of getting up for 7:30am we were lucky enough to sleep until around 9am. After a lazy morning consisting of nothing in particular, the Unit had its second ever Beach Games Tournament. Making WWESU logos out of various beach resources, hole digging and even best Baywatch run were all on the line, until the event was rained off; however the tournament was resumed to completion a few days later.
The island of Jersey has had a varied and interesting history. The Jersey War Tunnels, built by German occupying military in the Second World War, are now home to an interesting museum about Jersey during the war which we visited a week into the camp.
The impressive underground network was a fascinating insight into the life and history of the island, as well as an interesting way to shine some light on a part of the Second World War that most of us knew very little about.
On Sunday we split into ability teams to conquer Jersey by foot. With routes spanning its width, breadth and perimeter, teams of Wild Wolf members swarmed every footpath around the island. Our most ambitious team set out to complete a suspiciously named ‘60+km’ circumnavigation of the island, which proved an attainable challenge for the five finishers, who discovered that ‘60+km’ in fact rounds to ‘80+km’. Having battled blisters, aches and all manner of discomforts, the team completed their journey and were welcomed home by friends, curry and ‘Country Roads’ playing on repeat. All in all a rewarding experience.
On the second Monday of camp we had a free day, some went scuba diving, some went cycling, some went sea kayaking, some went to the Elizabeth Castle, and a group of us went to visit St Helier in the morning to stroll around the shops, make some purchases, and explore the small market stalls there. At lunchtime we were strategically picked up by Marlon who was chaperoning many groups of people doing various activities (surfing, cycling, castle etc etc). And took us to Jersey’s only zoo on the island, despite being a small and rather cozy zoo there was a wide range of animals; meerkats, gorillas, metre-long-wingspan bats, otters, birds flamingos, frogs, and many more. After getting picked up again from the zoo, we went back to camp for a meal of sausages and mash.
I woke up to Ben’s grinning face at the door to my tent. He was prepped and ready for our sunrise swim. By 5:50am we had stirred the sleeping Marlon and proceeded down to the beach. We had a lovely morning swim despite the clouds blocking the sunrise.
We returned to camp as everyone was beginning to wake up. After a quick breakfast the older Explorers set off for our coasteering adventure. We had great fun riding the RIB out of the bay then jumping off cliffs and swimming around the coast. It was great to see people pushing their comfort zones and conquering their fears.
By the time we had returned to camp, the younger Explorers had made a fantastic start on packing up the camp and had prepared an awesome lunch of homemade samosas. While the younger group went coasteering, the rest of us worked on washing and packing up camp to make sure all the kit went away clean and dry.
After one last swim, we got changed and made ourselves (ever so slightly) presentable for our trip into town. Having packed up our kitchen we went into town for an end of camp celebratory dinner. Upon our return to camp we had our traditional ‘Scouts’ Own’ around the campfire. Sharing our reflections on the camp and performing our own version of the ‘I am a Scout’ poem.
Everyone went to bed feeling pretty worn out emotionally and physically, we were all sad that we would soon be saying goodbye to such a great camp.
Despite consisting of simply driving and sitting on a ferry, the travel days at the start and the end of any camp are often the most emotional, stressful and tiring of all the days, and on this camp there was no exception.
After packing down and leaving camp at the positively luxurious hour of 11am, our journey home to London began: leaving behind memories, emotions, experiences and a very friendly group of German Scouts that we had been camping with for the last few days. Disaster struck, however, pretty much as soon as we got to the ferry terminal – the second minibus was 20cm too high! After much umming and ahhing and stressing and emergency-plan-making the Explorers on that minibus boarded the ferry as foot passengers and we were on our way, leaving behind a very sporting John to make his way back to the Scout Centre to await the next ferry with enough headroom.
On the ferry we entertained ourselves by sewing badges, editing the Summer Camp video, reading out entries from the ‘thoughts and feelings’ box which people had been contributing to all camp, and of course getting some much needed shuteye.
Once we landed in Poole, the impromptu foot passengers were picked up by an ex-Explorer’s dad (thanks Julian Easton!), and we all drove back to Scout Park, where the trailer and minibuses were unloaded at a blistering pace, taking just an hour, and we met yet another group of German Scouts who gave us dinner.
All in all this camp has been utterly fantastic, with new friendships, experiences and limits pushed galore. Whilst about as different to last year’s Summer Camp as possible, it’s been an unforgettable twelve days!
Don’t forget to check out our videos of this amazing camp below, or watch them on our YouTube channel!