Buckinghamshire Centenary Camp

Many moons ago a Buckinghamshire Guide Unit, Hughenden Valley Guides asked for my assistance leading at the Scouting Centenary Camp in Bucks. I quite happily accepted the offer for 2 reasons; the most important being ‘fun’ and the second as a tale for afterdark on a Scout camp in the future.

The weekend started of a little breezy but calmed down on the Saturday morning. A first point of order was to erect an entrance gate, I was to supervise the Guides performing this activity. What I didn’t expect was to have to teach the Guides how to tie knots! Apparently this troop had performed all sorts of outdoor pursuits like climbing and kayaking but were never taught basic knot tying. Despite this they put to use lashings and clove hitches quite well to construct a sturdy pyramid gate which they later decorated in multicolour camouflage netting they’d made prior to the event.

There was a small multi-ethnic concert in the evening along with a gigantic necker presumably constructed from all the neckers in a particular local, I couldn’t really hear :(. But it looked good non-the-less.

Sunday turned out to be one heck of a day, the weather just went from bad to worse. Tents that had been put up sufficiently started leaning over and had to be strictly re-pegged to stop from flying away. Other campers were not so lucky as we saw more than 1 hike tent make like a tumble-weed in the gale force winds.

At some point it became obvious that we couldn’t last out the storm and started making preparations to send the girls home. There would be no quick escapes and we eventually hid out in the miniature fiesta tent we dined in.

With the onsite activities quickly packing up, or in some cases closing down boredom and unhappiness became infectious so entertainment had to be jury rigged in a limited environment with little apparatus. Combining a beach ball weighted down in the corner with a wall made of the girl’s camp ‘buckets’ dividing the tent in two I improvised a volley ball tournament. This kept everyone occupied for a lot longer than I expected and next moved onto verbal games and then some right out of the Guiding handbook.

As the afternoon pressed on the rain started to breach the tent and any pen and paper games quickly went out the window, actually it was through the walls but that doesn’t really matter. Majority of the girls had been picked up by this point so the remaining girls and I moved to a smaller tent to wait. With the area too small to move I grabbed my book (you should always have playing cards and a book on camp) to read to the girls. Usually I’d have the Douglas Adams classic, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with me but with the highly acclaimed Order of the Phoenix AND the final book; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows due out this summer I was re-reading my way through all the books and was upto Chamber of Secrets.

We each took turns reading a chapter, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read aloud with it being so long since I’ve had to read anything in public, although saying that I had done a lot of speaking in public since they which has obviously helped as I read through Chapter 1 without any major trips.

As we read through the book the winds continued to gush and the rain to blanket down, the numbers remaining dropped and soon it was just the leaders to pack up the remaining 3 tents and leave for a hot drink at Mary’s Cottage, the troops intrepid Leader home.

Despite the hardship I certainly enjoyed the weekend, I grew as a person as I better understand the Guiding dynamic and the inherent pitfalls of hands-on leading. So I say a big thank you to Hughenden Valley Guides and I hope we can do it again something similar in the future.