On a lovely weekend in October 15 Scouts from 1st Highworth went camping to Youlbury Scout Activity Centre near Oxford. On arrival we walked down to the area in the woods where we would be camping for the weekend. We unloaded the tents from the minibuses and set them up in the dark, among the Scouts there were 5 tents, with a patrol in each and one extra for the three girls to share. The Scouts who were due to sleep in the tent set it up with the other members of their patrol. The tents were all set up in 20 minutes, including the 3 tents for the adult leaders, 8 tents in total.
After setting up the tents, one of the leaders started making the hot chocolate. Whilst it was getting made the rest of us went on a familiarisation and exploratory walk around the site in the dark – this was where our torches came in very handy. We saw an outdoor chapel and lots of the other activity sites such as Jacob’s ladder and the abseiling wall.
Once we got back the hot chocolate was ready and all who wanted it had a cup and slice of cake. The campfire was lit and we all sat around it on the logs enjoying our sugary treats. Soon after, we went to the toilet block to brush our teeth, got into our pyjamas and separated off into our tents.
The hot chocolate was the cause of a need for a wee in the early hours, thankfully only a short stroll from the tent to the toilet block, with the moon as a guide.
above the other, for you to walk across it whilst holding on to the top rope. An alternative method was to do a dead man’s crawl along the single bottom strand of rope.
We woke up around 07:20, got changed and brushed our teeth. For breakfast we had a choice of cereals, after eating and getting dressed the Patrol Leaders (PL) and Assistant Patrol Leaders (APL) went to experience archery for a couple of hours, while the others started making a commando rope bridge between two trees. Then the two groups switched over with the PLs and APLs finishing the rope bridge, which was two lines of thick rope, one directly above the other. An alternative way across the bridge was using dead man’s crawl on the single lower rope!
When the others returned from archery, we had lunch, the choice of tomato or chicken soup with bread and butter and a selection of DIY sandwiches, a packet of crisps and either an apple, banana or orange. Once everybody had eaten and cleaned up the dirty dishes, we had 30 to 40 minutes of free time to play.
Before the afternoon activities began, we were going to take the opportunity to invest our three newest Scouts. The leaders like to try and invest Scouts in special ways so what an opportunity we had and what a memory for the young people! All 15 Scouts climbed on to the commando bridge with the 3 to be invested in the middle. The leaders stood firmly on the ground to perform the investing ceremony. We all gave them a round of applause after the ceremony 😉.
The Scouts worked in patrols during the afternoon doing a round robin of activities: undertaking knife, axe and saw instruction and practice, Orienteering and planning a sketch to perform around the evening’s campfire.
Each patrol was then split into groups of 2 or 3 with a patrol leader with one group and Assistant Patrol Leader with the other. We had to try to follow a map and find the controls that were marked on the map. We had to find the letters that were on trees or posts. This gave us a chance to explore more of the campsite but in daylight this time.
We then had some instruction on how to safely use a knife, axe and saw with our patrol leaders teaching us about the axe and saw with leader supervision and a leader making sure we were using a penknife safely to make feather sticks to help us light the camp fire.
Our final activity was to prepare a sketch (a very short comic play). The leaders thought that some of these left a bit to be desired – but it is all about trying everything and not being afraid to perform in front of others.
After the three afternoon activities the patrols had to prepare and cook their chilli whilst the leaders cooked the ‘ton’ of rice. Everybody tried the chilli although one or two Scouts didn’t eat very much but at least everyone tried it!
We washed and cleaned up while the campfire was being lit. We all sat around and waited for it to warm up. It turned out to be a nice big fire! The patrols performed their sketches that they practiced during the afternoon. We had our cake and hot chocolate and went to bed.
In the morning we had breakfast and were allowed our last goes on the commando bridge before the leaders took it down. Before the Scouts went to pack their bags and take the tents down, we took part in three problem solving activities. All Scouts helped with carrying the equipment back to the trailer ready for its return journey to Highworth. Before we drove home, we did a final check around our camp, making sure that we hadn’t left any rubbish.
Anna and Neeko