My second year!! I was invited back (I must have done a reasonable job!) and to cap it all promoted to the activities planning group. This year camp had returned to a one week format and the only cloud on the horizon was the weather. In the weeks leading up to camp there seemed to have been nothing but rain, rain and more rain and I was approaching the week with mixed feelings. I really wanted to go having enjoyed myself immensely the year before but was having visions of mud, mud and mud combined with wet, wet and wet. However my fears were groundless, the sun came out and it stayed all week long with some of the hottest days of the year. In fact some days one wanted to bemoan the fact it was so hot but ever mindful of the gratitude that it wasn’t raining one had to bite one’s tongue and not utter a word in complaint.
As always the company leaders went down to camp on Saturday 22nd July to set up camp and I and the boys from 5th Kingston and Merton were collected on the Sunday by Simon and conveyed down in the minibus thus avoiding much of the hard work of set-up. When we arrived and joined the boys from Trowbridge we only had the small task of putting up the boys tents. This year there were 5 new boys but thankfully they all seemed to know what they were doing and the tents were soon up.
This year with the Olympics being held in London our theme and motto for the week was “Always try our best”. Our morning thoughts and evening prayers were all related to this theme and many of the activities were geared towards the Olympics and this theme, earning additional points to add to the tent competition we regularly hold. We kicked off with a tent t-shirt and flag making activity where each tent had to come up with a theme inspired by both the Olympics and the week’s motto that was reflected on their t-shirt and flag design. The boys worked well in their tents and their resulting designs and themes, “Unity” and “Inspire and Adventure” were truly great.
Our evening Church service explored the “Parable of the Talents” and heralded our week of spiritual time where over the week we talked about the staff backgrounds, personal bests, taking part, setting targets, reflecting on achievements, adjusting ideas and learning from our mistakes. It was particularly interesting to learn of each leader’s own life and how different decisions and pathways had shaped their present and how all of us no matter the differences in our past come to be linked together through the Boy’s Brigade.
So the stage was set for a truly remarkable week once again jam packed with activities and fun. We held our own Olympics, complete with opening parade with the boys carrying their flags and wearing their own t-shirts combining traditional events with the slightly more bizarre, welly tossing was my personal favourite! We went rock climbing (well actually I didn’t – I just admired the efforts of others) and tried our hand at archery. We visited the lovely town of Midhurst, picnicking and taking part in a treasure hunt. We visited Arundel castle, enjoying the lovely gardens and elegant castle, watched the jousting events and sampled the delights of the medieval village constructed there. We held our own versions of the Cube, the Great Olympics bake off and Man v Food challenge (I never realised I could eat a doughnut so fast!). We also went swimming, played team games, watched a film in the twilight and allowed the boys to totally control the staff in TOMS (totally obedient morons!).
As usual the girls joined us on the Wednesday along with Bruce, Chris and Marjorie. In the morning they all went to play crazy golf but I got a morning off from my supervision duties and detoured to Tangmere Aviation Museum where Clive and Uldis chaperoned my charge around the museum while I relaxed in the tearoom with a book. Later after a picnic lunch we played rounders in the sweltering heat, made bases in the woods (where some of the braver boys and staff slept later) and had a BBQ.
All too soon the end was nigh. Friday had arrived and with it the relaxation of the last day complete with the “Big Fat Camp Quiz” which the staff won as usual and the Olympics opening ceremony live in a camp field with an open fire. It was truly memorable. The tent competition was complete with congratulations to Sol Burke from Trowbridge as the winning tent commander.
It was indeed an exhausted set of staff and boys that packed it all up on the Saturday morning. Once again the week had been brilliant. The food had been divine, with the usual mouth-watering dishes produced by the cookhouse including once again the magnificent roast beef dinner, the weather glorious, the setting sublime, the company relaxed and friendly, the facilities (including my own personal loo) great. My many thanks to Simon and all the company staff that work away to make camp so special.
Camp is our own mini-world where nothing else exists but us in our own field. When you are there everything else ceases to matter and the petty day to day trifles of modern life fade away. It’s a great place to take stock and remember how truly fabulous the world God has made for us is. There is no question I’ll be back next year for my 3rd camp!