Thumbs, mosquito’s and Pork!

Back from our first of many residential experiences and although I am feeling a little tired and like I’ve been bitten to death it has been a fantastic weekend and I am looking forward to the many more we have planned.

After a late night on Friday spent in A&E after I decided to almost saw my thumb off in a D.I.Y. accident, it was an early morning on Saturday to get to the site in time and make all the preparations needed before the young people arrived. The instructors were all assembled and ready to go for 10:00 am when the young people arrived, very excited about what the weekend may bring.

Their first task was to locate a suitable spot for their “den’s” as they named them to sleep in. We tried a couple of places but these were very busy with mosquito’s so we moved on. We eventually settled on a location when we realised the flies were intent on accompanying us on our experience whenever we settled. Then it was time to start Den’s. Now I’ve seen some organisations build so called “natural” shelters out of tarpaulin and rope but we wasn’t having any of that!! Our structures were build with sticks and the waterproofing with leafs. They turned out to be very good as well, extremely good job from the young people who had never had to build their own bed for the night before!

And time for Lunch. Well the wood was all wet but we managed to get a fire going and the traditional sight of the kids poking the fire with sticks almost immediately kicked in as they were fascinated by this Fire thing. Lunch was fish cooked in Cabbage leafs with butter and Lemon for which everybody had a go at preparing. This involved them making an incision at the base of the fish and pulling all their guts out. Initially some were put off at the sight of this but they got into it and when it was ready most enjoyed the result. We also had potatoes and mince in parcels (cabbage leafs again).

Tea was a long time coming, a spit roast joint of Pork cooked over the fire slowly and for a very long time, but that was definitely worth the wait. During the afternoon, the mosquito’s had ramped up their presence and were really settling in. Mostly on the instructors arms. They seemed intent on draining every drop of blood they had. But when the Pork came off the fire and it started to be carved, the flies came in their hundreds to attack the instructors who were carving it, taking the opportunity to bite, bite, bite whilst they were occupied with 2 hands and unable to slap them away!!

As evening drew in, we came to what was my favourite part of the weekend and of most residential experiences like this. You can do activities with the young people every week but not really get to know them properly like you do at times like this. As it gets dark, it’s then that they start to really build up a trust in you as they realise you’re it for the night and in the absence of their parents, you are their carers. You start to learn their strengths and weaknesses (such as being scared of the dark) and so much more about them.

Absolutely no problems as night time came with the kids. Unfortunately Alex one of the instructors was having a bad reaction to the mosquito bites and in the end had to go to hospital (The 2nd Navigators instructors visit of the weekend). After a chat round the fire we went to sleep ourselves and there really is no better place to be on a nice evening than sleeping under the stars.

I was awoken by the sound of children talking. It was 7:00 am and they were all up. Not too bad I think but they had all enjoyed their night.

All in all a great weekend, one which I thoroughly enjoyed myself and as I said at the begging, I am very much looking forward to the next one as we continue to bring these opportunities to the young people.

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