Thursday morning dawned bright and cool, and I stepped out of my tent to find the five bivouacking Guides sleeping snug and sound. We took them hot drinks to tempt them to leave their cocoon – they all said they’d had the warmest and best night’s sleep they’d had all week, probably because they were covered in so many layers, and maybe also because it’s easier to stay up chatting in a tent than it is outside lying in a line pinned down by groundsheets!
The girls in the tipi had also slept well. We joked that we wondered why we bothered with patrol tents at all!
Breakfast was one of my favourites, camp dreams, i.e. sandwiches dipped in pancake batter and fried. The fillings were jam and cheese this time, but I’m also partial to chocolate spread – nom!
The girls weren’t due to leave until 5:30pm, since it was a weekday and we thought it might not be convenient for some parents to pick them up in the middle of the day. We tried hard not to make the whole day feel like we were just waiting to go home, although it was obviously on everyone’s minds.
In the morning, we split the Guides into two groups. Just for a change from the usual activity groups, which they’d been in most of the week, we divided it by age, with the 10-11s together and the 12-14s together. One group finished their hobby horses, because it would be a shame to leave them unfinished, and also because Co-Activity Leader was adamant that she wasn’t going to take any broom handles or foam home!
I took the other group to make edible wagons. I divided them again, so they were working in groups of 5-6 and gave them a selection of biscuits and sweets (including, of course, Wagon Wheels) and icing, and half an hour. They came up with very inventive creations! This one has a mobile jail…
…and this one is being drawn by a horse, whose smiley face has partly fallen off.
The groups swapped over, then we had squash and cake.
Then First Aider and I took the girls off-site to give the others a leaders a chance to clear up and take the remaining tents down. We went to the campfire circle with pens, post-it notes and the cow-shaped laundry basket, and asked the girls to write their favourite thing about camp on one colour post-it, and something they would change on another colour, and feed them into the cow’s mouth.
Next, the Guides did a trail, finding bird pictures hanging in the bushes and writing the birds’ names in a grid. When it was filled in correctly, a line of letters going downwards spelled ORNITHOLOGY. The first, second and third groups to finish got to go up to be served first at lunchtime. I made the trail for region camp last year, and kept the bird pictures and blank answer sheets in the hall – fortunately, I grabbed them at the last minute as a possible filler activity!
Then First Aider ran a game – something about being baby birds flying into nests, which continued the bird theme nicely! – while I gathered up the bird pictures and played hide-and-seek with FA’s three-year-old. He soon realised that I was easy to find in the bushes because of my bright purple cardigan!
Lunch was a “cattle drive roundup”, i.e. finishing all the leftover food. I forgot to mention that the QMs, when drawing up the menu, gave everything themed names, like “cowgirl casserole” and “Native American hotpot”. As you can tell, I didn’t really keep track of what we were eating when – I knew that it would be tasty, whatever it was – so it became a running joke that whenever someone asked me what was for the next meal, I’d say “cowboy surprise”.
After lunch, the Guides did a litter sweep of the site. This was very worthwhile, since as well as finding bits of rubbish – mainly water balloon fragments and the odd sweet wrapper – someone found a figurine that had dropped off QGB’s badge tab and would have been a shame to lose.
The Guides made a final trip to the campsite shop, and I went in for the first time all week and stocked up on badges for me and other leaders who had asked for them. Then we went to our final activity, go-karting.
There were just two pedal go-karts and a little track, so we raced in pairs and timed everyone so we could work out the fastest. With 24 girls and a one-hour session, there was only enough time for everyone to have one go, and there was a fair bit of sitting around. We tried to keep everyone involved by counting down to start the race, and having a few Guides doing the timing and a couple on hand to give the karts a push in the uphill part of the track. They were generally happy to watch and talk amongst themselves. The senior section and older Guides were getting a bit uninterested and at first said they didn’t want a go, but the younger ones managed to talk them into it.
Oh, and there were a couple of minor collisions that caught everyone’s attention. Despite me making sure everyone knew how to brake before they started, some Guides forgot it when they reached the slightly downhill part of the track…one hit the tyre wall, sending tyres flying spectacularly, and another took a corner too fast and rolled the kart. I’m glad they have a few more years before they can drive cars! Fortunately both were ok – I don’t want damaged Guides at any time, but especially not an hour before the end of camp, and especially not QGB’s licence camp! I had a go too (soundly trouncing Co-Activity Leader), and to be fair, it was quite hard to remember to pull the brake handle in the heat of the moment.
When our time was up, we went back to our campsite – now looking very bare – and got everyone in a circle for a final piece of cake (the QMs had paced it very well, so we just about got through it all) and a closing talk. QGB gave out camper interest badges and the badges we had made, announced some prize winners, and thanked everyone; and we thanked her and gave her three cheers for doing such a spectacular job of running the show.
That brought us to the end. The girls collected their belongings (including hobby horses), and found their parents. The leaders took down the tipi and packed the last bits and bobs into vehicles. We said our goodbyes – not too sentimentally, as we all see each other quite often – and headed off. Those who live near our hall and camp store kindly returned equipment there. QGB and I were the last to leave the site, and she dropped me off at home to an evening of unpacking, washing, and a very early night. Real world rehab could wait till the next day.
There’s so much about camp that I haven’t included, because I forgot it, or forgot when it happened, or it would sound ridiculous if I tried to write it out, but I’m glad I’ve at least written the main things. That was the point of this blog, really: to record what I do in guiding, so in future I can look back and remember it, because so much gets forgotten or blurred together. I’ve enjoyed all the camps I’ve been on, but I do think this was one of the best, for a mixture of factors but especially the lovely people in my guiding family who I was lucky enough to share it with.