Summer Camp 2015: Tentless Adventures

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In the last post, I alluded to the fact that we stole our Guides tents.

The joint part of the joint Brownie and Guide camp finished on Saturday morning, and we said goodbye to the Brownies just before lunchtime.  We took down as many tents as we could – and sent most of them home with Brownie parents to save on space in the Leader’s cars.

That included the tent that the Guides had been sleeping in.

And the Leaders tents.

And the toilet tent, although that wasn’t a problem, because there’s actually a loo block.  We’d only put it up for fun!

We were left with one tent on the field – only just big enough to be an emergency shelter if things went horribly wrong.  Even that we took the inners out.

We were left with six Guides and nine Leaders.  A good ratio, I’m sure you’ll agree!  It was… odd.  I’m not used to camping with so few people any more.

Anyway, that afternoon the Guides had a couple of big challenges to complete.  Food and shelter!

Step one was to plan their meals for that evening and the following morning.  They had to learn to negotiate likes & dislikes, including the one vegetarian in the group.  Then we took them to the nearest Tesco and let them loose with £30 cash between them.  They more or less managed to stick to budget, with a small amount of negotiating between their two groups.

“It’s the lemon.  Get rid of the lemon!”

Once they were back from their shopping trip, they needed to build fires and cook, and build a shelter to sleep in.

The shelter building was entertaining.  Their emergency shelter took quite some time to put up, but they were having fun and, in the end, it didn’t leak.  So I’d call that a success.

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We didn’t give them any matches, either, but I did lend them my flint and steel.  And teach them how to use it.  Who says I can’t be kind?

I have to say, the fires they built were much better than the fire they had on our recent evening outing.

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For a first time cooking entirely for themselves, I think they did very well.  Nobody complained that the food was horrible, nobody died of food poisoning or starvation.  Nobody ate until about 9pm, but that’s a minor consideration!

After they had eaten, they were quite keen to try out their shelter, so off they went to bed.  Not to sleep though, of course not!

“Ahhh! A grasshopper!”

(Five Guides screaming.  One Guide calmly picking up the grasshopper and removing it from the shelter.)

“J—!  How do snails reproduce?”

(J—, for context, is qualified in sex and relationship education.  This inspired much hilarity and odd questions when the girls found out.)

I think they finally dropped off around 12.30am.

You may recall that the Leader tents were also taken down.  We decided that building a shelter was too much effort and we just put down a groundsheet and some bivvy bags near the fire.  Which led to the startling revelation that bivvy bags are actually quite short.

I was fine, and so was Lightning, but J— and Sunrise are quite tall, and they didn’t fit all the way in.

When it started raining around 5am, the tall people moved into the tent (or just got up), but the short people just pulled the bag over our heads and went back to sleep.

The Guides proved their shelter-building abilities by waking up dry in the morning.

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Breakfast was less damp than it could have been – the drizzle mostly dried up by around 7.  We did give the girls a hand getting the slightly damp fire going again, but after that the cooking was entirely their own problem.

I supervised.  Which included “testing” the “chegg” (cheesy scrambled egg) to ensure it was edible.

A terrible chore, you understand, but someone had to do it.

I enjoyed sitting around watching the Guides cook and chatting to them.  It was good, also, to get their impressions of the camp.  The last day, with the huge amount of independence and responsibility, was definitely the biggest hit.  They loved making their own tent.

One girl summed it up quite nicely, I thought:

“I wish we could live like this for ever!”

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