Thursday, 14 August 2008

Consumed by fieldy-type things in an enthusiastically damp way

I just got back from ten days spent in a large field camping with 400 Girl Guides; fun: yes; relieved to be back: definitely. It was thoroughly exhausting in every way, shape and form etc etc...

The camp was called SWInG 2008, which stands for 'Surrey West International Gathering'. Hopefully the 2008 is fairly self-explanatory. This camp was, surprisingly, in Surrey. And it was--shock horror!--an international camp (!!) with Guides and Girl Scouts from all around the world. On our subcamp were girls and their respective leaders from Pakistan, Taiwan and Virginia, USA.

So apparently there are two of me, as my unpronounceably Belgian last name is excessively common and therefore I was assigned the jobs of two people. This worked particularly well when I was required to be in two separate places at the same time. For example, I was meant to spend one day at Thorpe Park supervising 30-odd 10-14 year olds, but at the same time was sitting on top of a large rock in the middle of a field supervising rock-climbing. Go figure. This would have been entirely impossible had it not been for my wonderfully accommodating fellow adulty-types, in particular fake-Guide Jayne (pretending to be a Guider for the week) who did a lot of 'Eddy Helping'.

But alas, forsooth and fulsaw...

We did eating.

And eating.

And more eating.

And in case we got hungry, some more eating.

Glenys, Queen of the Kitchen, a.k.a. head of the QM (quarter masters) team, decided that Jayne and I needed feeding up, and went all out for the rest of the week trying to cram more food into us. Just in case the two main courses weren't enough there were six puddings to follow (this was actually Jayne, not me, but I feel it demonstrates the point quite well).

There were two particularly notable moments during the camp which both need to be mentioned for comedy value, one because of its surprising success, and one because of catastrophic failure.

One would hope that, after 19 years on this planet I may have learnt what I am and am not capable of within a set time-frame. WRONG! Back in March Dee, our subcamp leader, asked me to design a gate for our subcamp which was called 'Stonehenge'. Sounds simple enough except that everyone takes the gates REALLY seriously. Which I knew. And like an idiot, despite being a full-time student and lunatic, and doing 700 extra activities, AND preparing for a year abroad next year, I agreed. Long before camp I wished I had said no. Our gate was a disaster in fact. I had bought 8 garden arches to represent the arches in Stonehenge. Sounds simple enough, and the instructions said: 'Just push the arch 14" into the ground'. Haha. Very funny. We got it in 3" and the wind was blowing so hard that it bent the arch right over, taking me out on the way. The metal bent and snapped, and I ended up with a large and attractive lump on my forehead. Great. We finally managed to find some way of getting the arches in the ground (miraculously) but couldn't cover them with plastic sheeting like I had intended as the wind then had a surface to push. Above is one of the attempts at covering the arches. Surprisingly, we decided against it!

On a more positive note, there was a big camp fire on the penultimate night of camp, to which every subcamp was invited. Wounded by our lack of gate prestige, we decided to go for something a bit different. All 60 members of the subcamp attended the campfire dressed as Ancient Britons in full costume, some with woad/war paint on their faces as well. We had sticks, and the piece-de-resistance was that to lead our procession we had procured a horse! Revered subcamp leader Dee, a.k.a. Boadicea, rode Midnight over to the campfire, much to the astonishment of every other camper, none of whom had come in costume! We looked fantastic!!

Anyhow, enough for now, perhaps I will post more camp stories later, maybe even the take of Hickory Dickory Dock and the high vis vests.

Ciao for now xx

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