When Marlon first suggested that our next camp be led by Explorers, we thought it sounded a bit crazy. Then he clarified that this meant there wouldn’t be any Leaders there at all, and we knew it was a bit crazy.
Our Warm Up for Summer Camp camp – as well as being a bit of a mouthful – is a mixture of chilling after exams and a dry run for our actual summer camp, which will be in Scotland this year. However, it turned out that only two of the seven Patrol Leaders were going to be there, so it fell to Carina and Esme to plan and run the camp.
To save on the stress of trying to put the jurte up in the dark, we ferried all the kit up to Thriftwood Scout Camp on Thursday evening, making for a nice laid back Friday night set up. We discovered that the LONG walk to the toilet block was well worth it for the picturesque pitch.
On Friday evening we navigated the chaos that is taking 18 rucksack-laden teenagers on the London Underground to take the train up to Thriftwood. We’d scarcely arrived at our site before getting the call that our Tesco delivery had arrived, leading to a mad dash back to the entrance to collect our food. We sadly discovered that the car battery we were going to be using as a power source had managed to break overnight, meaning that we were unable to power WWESU’s extensive collection of fairy lights – the sole purpose of taking the battery in the first place. After putting up all the tents and having a much-needed cake snack, we headed off to bed.
Wary of the threatening rain that had fallen during the night, we were relieved to see a cheerful sun on Saturday morning as one team got up to prepare breakfast. After flag break, the day started with a round of on-site activities, from bouldering to some competitive pedal car races.
Then it was time for perhaps our most complicated activity, tie dye T-shirts. Having consulted many different sets of instructions, we decided on a fool-proof method: dip the T-shirts in the dye and hope for the best.
We mixed up a few sachets of brightly coloured dye and found our hoard of elastic bands. Once everyone had scrunched their white T-shirts into interesting shapes, we all started the dying process, managing to get plenty of dye on both the material and ourselves. After the T-shirts had soaked for what was hopefully long enough, we took them out and wrapped them in clingfilm to save until Sunday. We also took the chance to do the same to Marlon’s new bedsheets, that he’d for some reason trusted us to dye – naturally, we chose the brightest combinations of colours possible.
As could be expected from a pair of committed DT students, Max and Lawrence had arrived back from one of the earlier activities clutching a large length of what appeared to be skirting board, requisitioned from the wood pile, and claiming they were going to make a bench. This they promptly got down to, while Ned’s team made lunch.
Saturday afternoon consisted of several games to provide a chance for each team to try and gain a lead in the ongoing inter-team competition that was running throughout the weekend. Having been successfully worn out by an energetic day, everyone had some down time before dinner.
Our excellent dinner crew then prepared a delicious barbecue on the jurte fire, while the now-finished (and very impressive) pioneered bench was put to the test by several hungry Explorers. We were treated to a quick visit from Leader Phil, who turned up on his motorbike suspiciously just in time for a burger, checked we were all still fine, then headed back to London.
Having eaten dinner and done flag down, we headed to the Thriftwood campfire, where everyone got involved in some campfire songs (especially the penguin song – what a classic). After leaving the campfire, we made our way back to our site, where we started up our own campfire. We decided this was the perfect opportunity to treat some of the newer Explorers to Wild Wolf’s impressive repertoire of campfire songs and sketches (needless to say, buckets of water were involved…). It was great to see everyone getting involved in singing along, whether it was to ‘Oh Sir Jasper’, ‘Kumbaya’, or the mandatory round of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Similarly, everyone had a go at an inventive round of charades. We then had a few minutes of quite reflection, before getting off to bed.
Esme and Carina decided that being in charge of 16 teenagers wasn’t quite adventurous enough, so made the decision to sleep in the jurte instead of their tent. All was peaceful until they were woken at around 3am by a shifty-looking magpie intent on stealing our food. After protecting our precious bread with a trusty camp blanket, they quickly fell back asleep.
A few more hours of sleep later, we awoke to the team leaders getting ready to prepare breakfast around us, making good time with a great breakfast to start the day. An excess of yoghurt pots led to some very competitive yoghurt eating from Max and Ned.
After flag break we rolled up our sleeves and began rinsing the tie dye T-shirts, to the sound of a classic ABBA playlist on our portable speaker. Once the water was running clear there was an excited scramble to unwrap various elastic bands and see how the patterns had come out – very nicely, for the most part.
We rigged up a washing line to hang up the T-shirts (not to mention Marlon’s bedsheets) and stoked the fire. While some of us engaged in a little friendly water fighting, those who preferred to stay dry engaged in a traditional round of Shiniest Dixie, leaving Ned’s team victorious in the inter-team competition.
The lunch crew then began to prepare fajitas for lunch, after coercing Esme and Carina off for some ‘relaxation time’. Some of those not involved in cooking lunch then began a game of volleyball over the conveniently placed washing line. During lunch, Ned continued in his mission to down 1kg of yoghurt in shots of 55g.
After a lovely lunch, and with our stomachs full of fajitas we began to prepare for the end of camp. As kit was packed and tents came down the sound of some classic Year 6 disco hits could be heard drifting from our portable speaker. Everyone pulled together to take the jurte down – taking great care to not let it touch the floor! – and pack the car (shout out to Chris for driving all our kit home to Scout Park). Then there was just time for flag down and a quick group photo before we were on our way to the train station.
And so we arrived back in Bounds Green at the end of a chilled out weekend, tired but satisfied, and having given the Sunday afternoon commuters a true display of youth-led Scouting.
A big thanks to all the team leaders for helping keep everything running smoothly, and to Emily, Max and Tilly for taking on their extra roles of responsibility!
– Carina & Esme