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This year we decided to change the venue for our annual Group Gathering to Walesby Forest.  Luckily the event was a great success helped largely by the weather, the new activities and extending the camp until after lunch on sunday.  Unfortunately only sandwiches on offer not a full sunday roast!

The advance party arrived on Friday evening to help set up the camp.  It was a lot easier than the District Camp as we only had one marquee and our own tents to put up.  After setting up camp we settled down to a well deserved drink and a chat as the darkness fell around us.

After a full English breakfast and last minute adjustments to the camp there was still time to have a game of cricket before the first campers arrived.  Alison and I couldn’t believe that the toilet block had decent showers and even had heating on!

Richard went off to the car park just before 11 am to help bring the camping kit from the car park as people arrived.  This was the part I was the most worried about but it seemed to go really well, although it took about three goes to get all the kit onto the site!

After everyone had put up their tents and had their packed lunch it was time to get the show on the road.  Richard got everyone together to give a briefing on the activities to be undertaken together with the do’s and don’ts on camp.

The Scouts and Explorers were the first to leave the camp for their hike to get to the lake!  I said it was a 15 minute walk but have now found out it is a mile from camp!  There first activity was raft building.  You get four plastic oil drums, rope and two long poles for each team of five people, four teams in all.  They then have to build a raft without it falling apart!  The ai, was to paddle round the island and back with lots more games to make the activity a real hit.   After this they had an hour to walk back and relax before their next activity.  These were old favourites crate building and rifles.

The Beavers and Cubs also had a mix of old fvourites and new activities.  The climbing, rifles are old friend whilst the assault course, crazy golf and zorbing are new.  The zorbing went down well with most, including Boddington.

At 6 o’clock all the activities stopped and everyone went back to the camp for a rest – I wish!  As usual it was full on trying to get the BBQ to light and to cook enough food for the 110 campers.  A great team together with loads of new helpers soon got the food ready and after a tanoy announcement a long queue soon developed.  I always have this fear that the food will run out before everyone has been fed!  Luckily there was enough food – even for those serving!

Usually at this point we settle down to have our own scout sing song round a large campfire.  However, as this was a new venue we decided to go to the site campfire.  I have to say, personally, it was brilliant.  It was run by the instructors who had been running the activities during the day.  They were young and full of enthusiasm.  Perhaps district should think of hiring them next year!  My only slight criticism was the small fire, but it would probably have been too hot and dangerous to have our usual size!

Back at camp we decided to keep the BBQ going with loads of wood found on site.  The marshmallows went down well with old and young.  Aidan started some more favourite songs and we kept it going with the whole Ball family up at one point!  It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves.  As the camp settled down with families heading off to bed some people stayed up drinking and talking.  At 11 pm the camp was very quiet ensuring others on the site could get some sleep.

We have a policy, first person up gets the BBQ going in order to get the bacon for breakfast going.  Poor Tim got the short straw!  He and Karl worked hard getting everyone the breakfast.  I was busy going round talking to people, asking for feedback and seeing how we can improve on the camp.  I have taken on board all the comments and will try harder next year!

After everyone was feed it was back to more activities.  Richard got everyone together to explain that we could only have 20 people in the swimming pool.  The show of hands meant we had to go to plan B and have two half hour slots to get 40 in the pool.  I wonder how many adults would have gone in if it had been raining!  The cave maze was also on at the same time which had two levels.

While the swimming and cave maze was going on a team of people were busy getting lunch sorted.  Everyone who came back seemed hungry and with plenty of food including chocolate fudge cake no one went hungry, I hope!

The camp was now being packed away.  Richard transported equipment back to the car park in the trailer and the people started to drift away.  A few people stayed behind to help pack the trailer.

I would like to thank everyone who came to the camp, especially those who helped, for supporting such a great camp.  In recent years the numbers have been dwindling so it was great to see so many people.  As those who helped found out we are a friendly lot and we are always looking for people to join us.  We all give up our time on a voluntary basis and our motivation is to see so many young people enjoying themselves and learning new skill.

Hope to see you next year.

Maria Lewis