Into the wilderness
The half term break saw one of our Outdoor Pursuits Department’s newest groups – Wilderness Group – head to Stonewall Park in Kent, where pupils put the skills they learnt so far this term to the test. Alice in Year 10 (the Elder Shaman of the group) has written an account of the weekend’s events.
“During half term, PES Wilderness Group went on their Winter Camp to Stonewall Park in Kent for four days from 30 October to 2 November. The group was split into three clans: River, Forest and Plains, all of which have Clan Chiefs. Members of every clan choose one of three roles to take on at the camp; Hunter, Fire Starter or Forager.
After arriving, equipment was unloaded and camp was set up. Everyone helped to first put up the patrol tents and the HQ tent. Each Clan was then very committed to setting up their separate camp bases using parachutes and fire pits. Cutting areas were made, and a great deal of effort was put into collecting natural firewood from the forest. After that, the Foragers cooked chicken and vegetable skewers for dinner with help from the other members of the clans over their fire pits. They made a very good meal and everyone had a very good first evening.
The next day began with an early start, and soon fires were being made in the Clan camps to cook breakfast. Everyone enjoyed their bacon and egg rolls before splitting into Clans to start the morning activities. In pioneering, we learnt to tie useful knots and experimented with building items from tables to swings; we made some fantastic pumpkin faces in pumpkin carving; and we had a brilliant camouflage session where we learnt to completely blend into the forest. Following an excellent lunch of trout prepared from scratch by the foragers, each trade then had some afternoon project time to experiment with anything they wanted to do, build or master. Some members made impressive benches for their clans and others went exploring in the surrounding woodland. The evening was taken up by making dough and cooking pizzas in old oil drums over their fires for dinner, which tasted amazing and were a perfect end to the day.
The second day began with breakfast followed by an activity rotation. The clans each experienced archery tag training, archery assault and feast preparation, where everyone made fruit-stuffed apples and mint sauce as additions for lunch. The lamb roast banquet prepared by the staff was delicious, and everyone enjoyed it enormously. There was an archery tag tournament in the afternoon, which was eventually won the by Elder and Staff Team. A relic hunt wide game organised by the Elders and Chiefs took place in the fading light and mist before dinner. To finish the night everyone settled down to enjoy marshmallows and sing group songs around an evening camp fire. Prizes were given out to those who had impressed the Chiefs, Elders and Staff during camp, but it was agreed that everyone had worked particularly hard and put in a huge amount of effort. For the final day, camp was packed up speedily and efficiently, and cleared by midday. It was hopefully enjoyed by all and it was definitely a great experience.”