PES Ascent Winter Camp
On the Thursday preceding half term, 21 students (Year 10 Bears and Stags) of the Perse Exploration Society Ascent Group set off after school to set up for Winter Camp. Three hours later they arrived and pitched the HQ marquee and sleeping tents – in the pouring rain!
After an early start, the Bears and Stags unloaded the two 7.5 tonne lorries by hand, ready for the patrols’ arrival at midday (129 students). In no time at all the patrols waded through the mud down the hill into camp with their rucksacks filled to the brim. The group was filled with a buzz of excitement ready for the first major camp of the year.
The rest of the day saw the setting up of 32 canvas tents, five marquees and 30 lightweight tents, not to mention the plethora of gas burners, tables, benches, patrol boxes and of course, the latrines!
After a busy day setting up and with the Ascent Group ‘canvas city’ well and truly established, patrols spent the evening preparing their first camp meal and went onto feed the leaders which was to be judged on hospitality, quality and punctuality. Sharks, Wolves and Hawks patrols made the greatest impression with some outstanding high scores.
As night time drew in, students took part in a Wizard of Oz themed ‘wide game’, which culminated in a win by Water Section. To close, the whole troop gathered in a large crater around a supersized camp fire to drink hot chocolate, reflect on the day and to sing songs such as Jerusalem, Hey Soul Sister and The Dirty Old Highland Climber not all in their original versions!
The second day of camp saw the whole of Water Section arrive late to flag break, which led to the traditional punishment of ‘binge’ being implemented. The resultant reprimand of a ‘head dunk’ into the lake ensured no one was late waking for the remainder of camp.
Over the course of the second day, the troop was split into pairs of patrols to take part in rotation activities such as: carving, pioneering, Polynesian arrows, backwards cooking (in which patrols plucked partridges ready for dinner!), first aid, navigation, fire lighting and a much needed rest period. These activities were enjoyed by all and were a great opportunity to put into practise the skills learnt in term time sessions this year. Oliver Brenton showed a particular keenness for plucking the partridges which was great to see.
At flag down, on the closing of our second day of camp, with the wind picking up and the weather forecast looking very bad for Sunday evening, Mr Parker had to make the tough decision to strike camp a day early. It was hard decision for the troop as it meant giving up planned activities such as the ‘Epic Wide Game’, coracle building and wild cooking. However, in true Ascent Group spirit, the patrols adapted and overcame the challenge quickly, setting to battening down the hatches and securing all the patrol tents ready for a blustery night.
The last evening ended with another campfire in which Oh you never go to heaven was sung with some alternative rhyming and much joking. The closing of camp and the dropping of the flag took place at midday on Sunday with the playing of the last post. The closing of camp is a sad moment, but on this occasion the troop was proud at having pulled off a monumental feat by assembling and disassembling approximately 14 tonnes of camping equipment in just over 36 hours, impressive when you consider the number of new students.
‘Looking back on camp, it was tough and challenging at times but very enjoyable. Despite the shortening it was extremely successful in many ways. I am particularly proud of the wide game, the cooking and most of all the way the patrols performed under the circumstances’ – Tessa Howard (Senior Patrol Leader, Year 10)