Monday, 16 September 2013

Stormy weather

Strictly speaking, I don’t suppose my Guiding stuff is of interest, but I did find our last little adventure quite amusing, perhaps for all the wrong reasons.

We had a Guide Camp at the weekend, organised by two of our Guides doing their Camp Permit, so the Leaders took a back seat in the organisation of it other than a bit of guidance through the relevant clauses that they had to complete.

In preparation for the event, I perused the weather forecast for the weekend so that I could pack relevant kit. This takes a bit more planning than the average camping trip as I don’t just need to take clothes to keep me warm and dry, but that I don’t mind getting smoky as we obviously have to spend an amount of time around a campfire, being Guides and all that. I have an old down coat for this purpose, it’s nice and cosy and I don’t need it for standing in a windswept playground with small children anymore. It would be no use in wet weather, but then, we wouldn’t be sitting around a campfire then, would we? The weather forecast was not too bad for Friday night and Saturday, but from the early hours of Sunday they were predicting heavy rain and gale force winds. Deep joy.

When we arrived at camp the forecast was mentioned and it was suggested that certain areas in the camp field were maybe a little exposed, but we’ll come back to that…

Anyway, we had no campfire Friday night as it rained and the two Guides couldn’t light the fire. That meant that when us Leaders were up earlier than is decent for a weekend (and at least two hours before any of the Guides!) we had to prove that we could do it and between us (and a couple of firelighters…) we managed to persuade some damp leaves and twigs to burn a bit and slowly, gradually, we built it up to a bit of a fire. I was then appointed Fire Master, utterly hilarious as I was always the kiss of death to the stove we had in the last house. I took my position very seriously and despite only having damp wood available, I managed to keep it going and ended up with a beautiful blaze, woo hoo!!


I am the Fire Master! (or Mistress?!)

We had quite a bit of fun during the day on Saturday, completing tasks and challenges with our teams (patrols) all within the theme of Fairy Tales. They had based the challenges on various tales with a twist, including Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. We laughed a lot. We knew we were going to suffer for our exertions… We had a great time around the roaring camp fire before retiring to our tents.

I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night, although I’m not sure why. I wasn’t worried about my tent, I’d pitched in a nice sheltered spot, and I wasn’t really worried about the Guides’ tents and utilities. They were not pitched well or sensibly (I’m not warranted, I don’t know anything) but they were in no danger, what was the worst that could happen? There was rain in the night and I heard the pots and pans go at some point, but no screaming. I stayed snug in my bag.

The Leaders were again up nice and early and I soon realised there was more talking and less laughing than normal, so I got out of my nice cosy bag and started to pull my waterproofs on over my baselayer and Ronhills. Sure enough, a rather stressed sounding Leader called from outside my tent to say they had “an emergency situation” and could I come and help…

So when I got there, the gear from inside the utility tent had been moved to a sheltered spot and the girls told to dress, grab their kit and move into the Leaders’ tent. We took the utility down (with no problems) and I was told “it’s wrecked”. I think the webbing that helps keep the form at the bottom of the tent may have come adrift from the pegging points. Disaster, obviously. The Guides tent looked a little misshapen, but I think on close inspection, there may have been one or two bent pole sections, but nothing disastrous. I don’t think that at anytime the girls were in any danger, we had shelter by way of other tents and the toilet block, the worst that could have happened would have been gear wet and blown around, but no one as in danger of injury.


Windswept and interesting…


There was no one sleeping in that pod, luckily


Er, that’s not right


And nor is that

Mountains out of molehills were made, but then I know nothing. I’ve hardly done any camping with Guides and they have years of experience. I haven’t survived high winds and torrential rain in a tiny tent in the middle of nowhere….

The ‘expert’ arrived. One of the husbands, a Mountain Leader and D of E Supervisor/Assessor. I do agree with him that repairs won’t be too difficult, maybe replacing a couple of pole sections, but I’m not sure that replacing all the poles with fibreglass ones would be the way to go. Speaking from experience, they do break and when they do, they shatter and fibreglass splinters are not fun! The worst these girls could have had was a clonk on the noggin with a hollow aluminium tube. I also happen to think threading a new aluminium section is far easier than the fibreglass ones. They are a nightmare. Anyway, what do I know? I’m not a Warranted Leader or a Mountain Leader with years of experience.

Maybe it was just the lack of sleep made me grumpy.

I kept quiet and came home after camp tired, damp, cold, bruised and aching. Such fun! I suspect we’ll do it all again sometime…


Tony Bennett said...

OK, so here's a trick I learnt from expedition caving in the Rockies for lighting fires when the wood is wet and it's raining stair rods and you're cold and hungry.

Collect a load of wood and pile it up, chuck on a few slack handfuls of calcium carbide followed by a billycan of water. Let this fizz away for a few seconds, then throw on a lighted match and stand back. In no time at all you have a nice roaring fire to cook on and get warm by.

This method probably won't impress your certified mountain leader types but then there's learning about wilderness survival and doing it for real.

Anyway, what happened to tents made of heavy canvas and stout wooden poles? ;)

Louise said...

Oooo, that sounds fun!

Now they were Real Tents. Gone are the days of hiking miles to a field with heavy kit, digging latrines and collecting water and milk from the local farmer. Now we camp in the grounds of a Castle with running cold water and a toilet block. Tsk! Softie Guides these days.