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Wilderness Festival 2016

02 August 2016 23:06

Wilderness Festival 2016

Last weekend I was privileged to be part of a team delivering kids' overnight camps, to 50+ children at the Wilderness Festival in Oxford.

The weekend started with the team meeting up on Thursday to create the site and build friendships, before setting off into the festival to enjoy the sights for the evening, prior to our work beginning in the morning.

Friday morning arrived and after a hearty breakfast of cereals and eggy bread we set about building the shelters for the children to sleep in. At midday, with excitement in our hearts and heads, we walked into the festival to meet and greet our first group of children for our Friday night sleepover in the woods...

The blue t-shirt group, consisted of 27 children ranging from 8 - 12, all with mixed emotions: anxious; excited; scared; unsure; happy; well who wouldn't be, with the thought of spending a night in the open with people they had never met before. Some children were very courageous and had even come on their own, having never even been away from home for the night before!

They really had no concerns. After walking the mile or so from the festival back to our home in the woods, we introduced them to their hotel for the night and had a drink and a snack around the fire, whilst introductions of the group and the 'Camp Wrap' - song of how to keep ourselves safe - were carried out. Time for games next, in the field, for more bonding and to enable the children to relax and let off steam whilst working out who they fancied joining forces with, to spend the night in a shelter.

After an evening spent re-designing, extending and decorating their shelters, team blue then had a hearty meal of Cowboy beans, jacket potatoes and nachos, followed by gutter pudding - a giant banana split served in a gutter! Time then for camp fire with songs, hot chocolate, marshmallows and skits, before heading off to their shelters, to be lulled to sleep by the gentle hum of the distant festival music sounding like a heart beat, reminding them that their families were not far away.

A few of us slept around the fire to keep an eye out throughout the night for our intrepid explorers, whilst the remainder of the team sauntered back to their tents and hammocks to retire for the night.

Morning arrived and after a fairly quiet night, half of us prepared a breakfast of eggy bread and cereals, whilst the remaining team set up the activities: branding irons; Hapa Zome - Japanese flower printing; scallop-shell fires; friendship bracelets; mammal ID, atlatls; Viking knitters and play...

With tails donned, 9:30am arrived all too soon when it was time to walk the blue team back to the festival, taking their trophies in hand, singing songs and carrying newfound memories and friendships with them. Sassying into the festival with our tails trailing behind us, we bid farewell to our blue team explorers and turned tail to head back to camp to prepare for the green team that would be ready for collection later in the afternoon.

A repeat performance of the blue team, followed throughout Saturday and into Sunday with the green team and once we returned our 25 children back to their families on Sunday morning, it was time for us to enjoy the festival. The evening saw makeshift costumes and random make-up being adorned, before heading off for a relaxed evening of music, mayhem and the odd sherbet!

Here's to 2017...