Last Saturday was absolutely amazing- the best day out we have had as a family in ages. We left home early in the morning and headed out to Hatfield Woods, for a day of bushcraft with the people at Camp Wilderness.
My sister and I got more and more excited as we got nearer but as we headed down tiny winding roads I started to wonder if we were going in the right direction as we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere! Eventually we saw some signs for Camp Wilderness and a lady was waiting to send us in the right direction, after letting some horses who were using the track out first we trundled on down until we found where we were to park up.
As we got out of the car we met Kyle who immediately became Lottie’s favourite person by making her a star magic wand with nothing but a stick- it was very clever though! We headed up a big hill, saw our base for the day and met Jade, the lady who had organised everything.
Once we got settled in we tucked into drinks, biscuits and fruit- including watermelon, which I love, and then joined a group of grown up bloggers and their children. We learnt that this was the very first time that Camp Wilderness had run a family day and we were the very first families to be able to experience the camp together which was quite exciting. We were then spilt into two groups and some people went off to the other base while we stayed where we were.
We all sat round the campfire and our leader explained how when they are running a camp the fire is kept going all the way through- I was really surprised by this as the camps last several days, but they showed us how to gently put things on the fire to keep it from burning out without hurting ourselves. They then talked to us about all the different ways you can start a fire. This was really interesting and we got to try out some of the techniques. Lottie and I got to start a fire using a battery and some wire wool which makes sparks, we thought this was really cool. There was also a flint and steel tool you can use, gunpowder, sun and a magnifying glass or even rubbing two sticks together. I didn’t think this actually worked but it does! Although it takes a really long time and a lot of hard work to get the embers going that way… I think if I were ever stranded I would like to have the tool with me!
We were split down into two further groups and told we were going to form tribes, Kyle was going to be our guide and we had to come up with a name, design a flag and decide on the history of our tribe. We quickly became the Yippee, Yippee, Yippee Awesome tribe and got going with our flag. My little brother decided this would be a good time to wander off and see whether he could climb up a tree stump- he was very happy when he realised he could and decided he needed to shout toddler noises at all of us to celebrate. This was very funny because Kyle was shouting back to him and it ended up sounding like some kind of chant… we soon decided this should be adopted as our tribe song.
After we had shared the details of our tribe with the whole group it was off to find a great spot to test our new fire-making skills. We soon got our fire started and fed it with plenty of dry wood to keep it going. While we waited for the fire to be ready we had a go at making models with clay – we made faces for the trees!
Before long the fire had calmed down enough to cook on it and we went off to the camp kitchen to find they had prepared us some delicious burgers ready for us to cook. We got these cooking and the smell made my tummy rumble! Fortunately it wasn’t too long before they were ready and we got to enjoy them with some rolls, salad and the most amazing potatoes ever that the people in the kitchen had made. We loved cooking our lunch outside and it tasted fantastic. After lunch we were taught how to safely put out the fire and scatter the ash so it looked like we had never even been there. We even got to have our faces painted with the ash, which made great camouflage. Although with Lottie’s wand made her she looked more like a forest fairy!
It was soon time to head back to base where we learnt about camouflage and keeping ourselves hidden in the forest. We all used some camouflage (and helped the leaders with theirs!) and then we played some concealment games. These were good fun and involved lots of running about, hiding and climbing in ditches!
Then we went and talked about foraging and how if you are in a survival situation you are safer to eat meat that you trap then risking berries or mushrooms that could be poisonous if you didn’t know what you were getting. We learnt all about different types of traps you could build and saw how they worked. We even got to look at different animal furs and see if we could recognise them- I got some right, I found them a bit weird to touch!
We were shown how to make tribal bracelets but at that point Sam decided he had had far too much excitement for one day and was really tired and grumpy so my Mum had to take him off for a walk. The bracelets were quite tricky to get started and Lottie and I couldn’t get them to work without help and whilst one of the leaders offered to help us we got a bit distracted by the arrival of marshmallows! The bracelets we saw that other people had made looked really good though.
The marshmallows were worth the wait- they were delicious, and I learnt that if you keep low near the fire then you don’t get so much smoke in your eyes. Don’t toast them for too long though as they drop off into the fire if you are not careful! We also had some hot chocolate and yummy marshmallow crispy cakes made by the kitchen- I can’t believe how much they could make out in the forest!
It was then time to get going but we asked if we could have a quick peak in one of the tents before we left- they were huge and looked really nice and warm- one of the leaders said they had lived in one all last year so they must be comfortable!
I would definitely love to attend one of the residential camps– it would be amazing to do with friends. My sister took a leaflet about school trips too which our deputy head is looking at, these look fantastic. There are going to be some open days later in the year for people to go and have a look and perhaps try a few of the things we were lucky enough to do.
If you fancy popping along to one of the free family open days and learning about bushcraft you can visit their Events page on Facebook for more information and can pick from an amazing day at:
Chalmondeley Castle in Wrexham on 22nd April
Penshurst Place in Tonbridge 20th April
Hatfield Woods on 13th May
Daylesford Festival at Moreton in Marsh 20th May
We can’t recommend it highly enough and for them to be able the entertain Sam who isn’t yet 2 as well as Lottie who is 5 and me all in one go as well as lots of older kids then Camp Wilderness must be doing things well!
Disclaimer- we were invited to take part in the Family Bushcraft Day with several other bloggers but all views are my own