Participants Weekend

It was precisely 19 days until we left, so it was rather important that everyone knew exactly what was going to happen and what had been going on thus far. So, we had our final chance to all meet together, in a camp of various excesses. On one hand an excess of people who didn’t bring their own tent, resulting in another excess of people crashing in another’s’ excessively large tent at 5 in the morning, causing an excessively large amount of noise and some excessively tired people. On the other there were excessive amounts of food, fire and fun.

We all met after lunch and began to put up our tents, smooth sailing, apart from a minor discrepancy regarding an anonymous explorer who insisted on pitching his pop-up tent on the deck of the wooden pirate ship in the nearby gravelled play area. Next we split into smaller groups and the leaders set us on a rather interesting impromptu orienteering session around Hainault Forest Country Park, where no groups seemed to have pens or compasses. Regardless, two of the groups managed to navigate themselves towards the centres café and were found enjoying chips and tea between them.

Once everyone was back it was time for the explorers to do their first phonics session and the networkers to talk about their hospital renovation. The emphasis of the educational project is to help a series of children with their phonics.Phonics is a fundamental part of English, how you pronounce and make each sound and where and how it applies to different words. The result was a surprisingly amusing and competitive session, where the explorers demonstrated their own interesting interpretations of the phonics actions and worked against each other in a series of different phonics based mini-games. How are you supposed to teach someone something that you don’t understand yourself?

Next was dinner, lovely chicken pasta followed by apple strudel and a group session of washing up. Spirits where high, especially in regards to washing up! The group of people who had been occupying the campfire circle let us know they were leaving and we quickly overtook their venue and their rather measly fire. With enough logs added and enough heat to make it quite formidable to approach, we sat around the outskirts of the fire practicing our knots. Another final thing that needed a final brush up before we leave. With our cross hitches, bowlines and reef knots practiced we took some time to practice our singing. Not quite a professional music entity just yet, but we did some have nice harmonisation going on in one group and some interpretive beat-boxing going on in another. Most importantly though, is that everyone WAS singing.

So, around ten the explorers were asked to go to bed. With a hearty discussion around the fire; an array of card games being played by the marque and a pseudo-gathering of people in one of the tents, the majority of people, leaders included, didn’t even consider nodding off till around three! When everyone eventually rose in the evening there were some groggy faces, but those complaints were put to rest by a beautiful bacon butty for all the participants. So then, it was time for a final phonics session, to recap everything that had happened and then it was time to break camp. We packed everything away in a rather organised fashion and the majority of us crashed in the back of the hall for the final debriefing with parents and all. Somehow Adam, Pete, and Alex, managed to pull off a detailed and useful debriefing, albeit with some technical problems and drew the weekend to a close.

19 Days till departure…