Autumn Camp!

As we come to the end of another adventure with the Navigators and I sit on the train back to reality and heading to my next destination fresh from trying to dry tents, pack up equipment and collate lost property I have a brief chance to think about the last few days and what we have achieved with the young people so far.

The instructors started on Friday afternoon with a few jobs to do including shopping and sorting out the trailer. Before we knew it 6:00 pm was upon us, 2 of us were still in Lincoln with the delayed trailer and 2 of us just heading off to Walesby from Markham Moor McDonalds where we had managed a very quick tea. As we arrived, the young people were excited about the next few days and what it would bring for them. The trailer finally arrived but unfortunately darkness beat it and all the fun of pitching the marquee and sleeping tents in the dark began. Luckily, we had invested in air tents for both and this was relatively straightforward, albeit a bit hectic and the kids couldn’t wait to get in and set up their homes for the next 3 nights. Finally the tents were up, power banks in and lighting fitted, oh yes there is no need to be uncomfortable on a camp with Lincoln Navigators.

Then the kids attention immediately turned to the fire. Where was it and could they toast marshmallows. We spent a little while scrambling around in the dark trying to find some wood but what little there was, most of it was wet! Between what we had and the charcoals we had leftover from the airshow, we did manage to get a fire for them and the kids were happy!

But before long it was bed time and they headed off to their tents. Unfortunately, sleep was not as forthcoming and they chatted on for a good while before silence fell across the site. This is always a chance for instructors to unwind around the fire, discuss the days activities and chill out a bit before getting that vital sleep themselves that would be needed to feed that high excitement and  enthusiasm the young people would no doubt have the following morning.

And we were not wrong. I cannot recall the exact time because it was still dark, but it was certainly the wrong side of 5am!! Eventually after much “We should really get up now”, we emerged ready to face the day. Pancakes for breakfast and then make sure the kids were ready for their first activity which was climbing. This was brilliant and it was great to see some of the kids going up the wall which was 45ft, deciding to come down again and then later on trying it again and reaching much higher and in some cases all the way to the top!

That afternoon they took part in quad biking as well which they seemed to really enjoy. I guess for kids of that age anything motorised which they can drive is always going to be a big hit. This was followed by tea and then a chance for the kids to video call their parents and tell them all about their adventures that day. And it was great to hear them all raving about the activities they had been doing and just how much they had enjoyed their day at camp.

That evening as well they particularly found amusing Matt (one of the instructors) impression of My Bean which had them rolling about the floor in laughter as well as for some reason my own impersonation of a cow which they then insisted I showed them how to do!! They soon went to bed though and slept a lot quicker and I am thankful to say stayed in bed a little longer the following morning too. The wind was growing ever stronger as well as we were experiencing gusts of about 40-50mph. Luckily we had gone round site earlier securing all our equipment and this storm passed without incident. We were particularly happy with our choice of air tent and marquees which stood up extremely well to the weather.

The next day we had a big fry up for Breakfast which was very well taken especially as they lined up for seconds and in some cases thirds. They then headed off for zip wire which again was a big hit as they took turn after turn and never seem to get bored. That afternoon we went in the cave maze (myself included). Some of the kids were a bit frightened of this inside, especially as it was dark but soon got used to it.

A quick trip to the on-site shop that saw the kids purchase the usual old tat that is available at this sort of thing. I’m sure parents were delighted at the quality of product they got for their pocket money. And then after tea they wanted more fire and marshmallow toasting and we also listened to some music too. We also had a birthday cake and sang to Tom one of our instructors who was turning 18. But the past 3 days got the better of them all as they started flagging, went to bed and were asleep within about 10 minutes. We talked about another successful event as well as the usual content of our late night chats round the fire which would inevitably include Brexit, Donald Trump and North Korea.

And then it was the last day and we woke up to rain!! We had managed to avoid this most of the event but typical that on the last day, the day we are taking the tents down, they are all wet!! Great. As the parents arrived to collect their kids and take them home, the kids left their usual pile of lost property for us to sort and we had to finish taking down the tents before finally going our own separate ways later in the afternoon.

My observations on the camp were that we took several young people on a 3 night camp some of which had never spent a night away like this before. Not once did anybody say to us that they wanted to go home which is a real achievement we think. Hopefully they all enjoyed themselves and will look forward to the next camp that we run, probably in early Spring.

It was also a great pleasure as usual to be on camp with Matt, Tom and Sam as the instructors, always devoting their time to the well being and enjoyment of the kids and ultimately giving up time off work or with their families to volunteer to attend this event instead, with the completely unselfish aim of giving the kids a great few days. As always, they are a pleasure to work with.

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