Boreaton Park Scout Camp – Day 1
Before we could go on a Scout Camp to Boreaton Park I had to first do my MiDAS minibus driving test so that I could drive one of the Ystwyth Reach Out buses to get everyone there. This meant taking a day off work on Monday and a whole day driving around Ceredigion and completing various practical and theory assessments. Fortunately I have plenty of annual leave to take and the course did involve a free lunch from Cwtch CafÃ© too. I’ve also driven plenty of vans, minibuses and lorries in my time so the tests were all easily completed.
Friday also took a bit of organising as the bus needed collecting and I had to take another days leave so that I could be in a Rhayader to meet with a website design client. It all worked out though as Ystwyth Reach Out were able to drop the minibus off on campus and leave the keys with Anna. It was then a bit of a rush to get from school to Morgan’s cornet lesson and then up to campus to get the bus before meeting everyone in Bow Street.
Off to Scout Camp
We had 13 Scouts with us so loaded their bags into the bus, strapped them into their seats and then said our goodbyes. That included me and Morgan as Anna had somehow got out of this Scout Camp and was looking forward to a quiet weekend at home on her own. As far as leaders go there was myself (also doubling as driver) and Cira.
We were on our way to the huge PGL centre at Boreaton park, not far from Shrewsbury. The drive there was uneventful and we made good time, arriving about 15 minutes earlier than planned in just under 2 hours. A few of the Scouts even commented on how nice my driving was and how much better it was than the last time they came here. Mind you, the previous bus driver on a similar trip we had was particularly bad!
We were meeted and greeted by Alex, dropped our bags in a marquee and were rushed straight to dinner where the dining room staff were waiting for us.
As usual the food was good and there was plenty of it and the whole place ran like clockwork. We were in the canteen, fed and watered and ready to go in no time. It was then time to drop off our kit and then back out for some fun and games in the form of Wacky Races.
After the races and some fun and games it was time for bed. Now, we might be calling this a Scout ‘Camp’ but this time we weren’t in tents as ‘tentland’ at PGL doesn’t open for another couple of weeks. We were initially going to be in the cabins but were now actually staying in the mansion house.
We had four rooms, The 3 girls were in one room, the 10 boys in another room, Cira had a double room to herself next door to them and I was on the outer side of the house in a little room to myself. The room was nice and had everything I needed; ensuite shower room, toilet, bed, cupboard, wardrobe, kettle, tea and coffee, but it was ridiculously hot. I had opened the window earlier, but it was still around 36ºC in there. I think I was just unlucky and had the hottest room in the building as it was warm everywhere else but not as hot as this. There was no way I;d be able to sleep in such heat so did contemplate getting my sleeping bag and heading outside to sleep but after a cold shower I think the heating went off overnight and I did manage to get a few hour sleep in the end.
Day 1 – Giant Swing, Challenge Course, Quad Biking and Aeroball.
We had a fairly early start to the day with Alex meeting us at 7:15 am so I woke everyone up at around 6:45 am so that they had time to get ready. We started with a huge breakfast in the canteen. Plenty of food as usual with bacon, beans, spaghetti hoops and hash browns, tonnes of toast, cereals, porridge, yoghurt,coffee, squash and fruit. We then played a few games in the courtyard where the sun was shining. In fact it looked like being a lovely day. It was still cold but there were clear blue skies and only a light breeze.
We split into our two groups, meet our instructors for the morning and then walked off through the wooded grounds of PGL to our first activities of the day. Group one (my group) headed off to the Giant Swing whereas Group two with Cira went to the Challenge Course.
The Giant Swing was as it’s name implies a giant swing. Two people were harnessed to it, the rest of the team then pull them up to the top and when they are ready they pull a little rope to release them into a huge swing.
We all had a couple of goes each. The initial drop is more exhilarating than it looks in the video clips and is actually quite good fun, but for me the swinging at the bottom waiting for it to stop just made me travel sick. The children seemed to enjoy it – They all went quiet during the initial drop and the first couple of swings but then started shouting “Woohoo”, “This is Awesome”, “I want to do it a million times”.
I had hoped to record my swings on video, but I did my usual thing of stopping the GoPro when I thought I was staring it and starting it when I thought I was stopping it, so I have footage of the build up but not the actual drop and swing. so, this it what it looks like the moment before the swing is released.
After the swing we then swapped with Group two and headed off to the Challenge Course. This is a fairly easy obstacle course, but once they had done it once it was time to work on some teamwork exercises on the course. The instructor we had for this was really good and was also really impressed with how well our Scouts worked together. When she first saw them doing the course she thought they’d struggle with the discipline of the teamwork challenges but they all did really well and completed them first time round. They then did a time team challenge and with the added competition really picked up their game and completed the course quickly and efficiently, working to their strengths and helping the weaker ones.
With the mornings activities completed it was time for a few more games in the sunshine before we headed off for a massive lunch. Once again loads of food for everyone, but no time to relax as it was straight into the afternoon’s activities.
My group headed off quad biking. It’s a very simple course for them to quad bike around and the bikes themselves aren’t that powerful. It looks painfully slow whilst watching but the Scouts seemed to think it was fairly fast whilst they were on them and therefore enjoyed it. I think they were also quite glad to be able to sit and chill whilst waiting for their go as well and we had the perfect place to do it as the little hut we were in was bathed in sunshine but out of the wind.
Aeroball was also more fun than it looked. Essentially it’s one on one basketball on a trampoline inside a big net! We all had a go against each other and then had some team games too.
Quite a few of them ended up with sore backs whilst doing it for some reason though. Following the afternoon activities we once again had some time for yet more games in the mansion courtyard whilst some of those with sore backs did some stretching and yoga instead. We then headed off for a nice big dinner.
As per usual the canteen staff made sure that the children all had plenty to eat and piled the food on high for the leaders. The Scouts were beginning to get a little tired by now, but they had yet one more activity for the day.
The Scouts then had a ‘snapshot’ treasure hunt style game to do whilst Cira and I headed off to the bar for some complimentary cheese and wine. Last time we were here, the cheese and wine came with strings attached as it was an opportunity for some of the higher up staff to have a chat with us, get our feedback on the instructors, tell them what we thought of everything and to give them ideas and suggestions for the future. We had expected the same this time, but after drinking our wine, eating our cheese and sitting in the comfy sofas for a while no one came out to chat to us so we headed back to the group.
I’m not sure if we missed them but we didn’t have too much to say as so far things had been fine (except for the temperature of my room!) and everyone had been having fun. Maybe the cheese and wine was just being nice to us as leaders – after all, if they keep the leaders happy then we’ll come back year after year with new groups of children.
Finally, after a long, action-packed day it was time for bed. We had a couple of bedtime blues to deal with from the Scouts but they were soon all settled down and tired too so they soon fell asleep. Believe it or not, that was just the end of day one… We had another day of much the same to look forward to tomorrow, but I think I’ll save that for a second blog post.