For this year's church youth camps, Scott was going on Young Men's camp with Jack and Tom, and I was taking Harry with me and Lucy on Young Women's camp. He's too young for camp officially, so I said I'd keep him with me, though I wasn't particularly looking forwards to being divided between youth leader and Mum.
We set off early to the camp site we used for last year's camp, near Milton Keynes. Selfies by Lucy...
Lucy went off to set up camp with the other girls from our ward, and Harry and I put our tent up.
As soon as we got our stuff out it started raining torrentially, so I threw the group sheet over out stuff, and carried on putting up the tent.
After a while though, I got everywhere sorted out and beautiful, and it stopped raining.
After tea on the first night, we headed into central Milton Keynes to go sledging at the indoor ski slope. When we arrived though, the ski slope was having a power cut and we couldn't go on. They looked after us pretty well though, letting us get free drinks in the cafe, then they arranged for us to go bowling. We had to hang around quite a bit, but it wasn't too bad. They managed to clear the whole bowling alley for us to use, and it was hilarious to see all the girls bowling in their wellies, and sledging gear!!
Near the end of everyone's first game, they managed to get the electricity back on, so we could go sledging after all! All the girls went off and got helmets etc, and were quickly sledging away - they looked like they were having a wonderful time! Harry didn't want to go, so I waited with him and a few of the other leaders in the cafe where we could watch the slope through big windows. After a while though, Harry got upset, and I could tell he did really want to have a go at sledging, but was quite nervous to. I talked him into it, and the guys were really nice who worked there, and got him a helmet and took him out. In no time he was flying down the slope and having a brilliant time!
Harry with Bishop Wade and some of Huntingdon Young Women.
It was great fun! We had little green plastic sledge things, and people would go down in snakes, head first, and so on. I decided to try and go down standing up on my sledge, and managed it for a little way, but then fell off and landed really heavily on my shoulder, head and knee. It was right near the end of the session, so I stopped then.
We all made our way back to our cars and the camp site. We'd forgotton to bring Harry spare socks, his wellies were totally filled with snow, and he was freezing! He ended up walking through the shopping centre with his bare feet tucked inside his trousers, along with Lucy in her pyjamas and delightful yellow wellies! Not your usual shopping centre attire!
Back at camp, it was already about 10pm, and I was supposed to be giving a Fireside. We all met in the hall (it's a Scout campsite, with pretty good facilities), and I gave a shorter version of it. I spoke about the difference between 'Fun' and 'Joy', and said that the things we find fun aren't always the things that bring us joy - I said hopefully we'd have plenty of both on camp, but that I wanted them to participate just as fully in the things that bring joy (serving, scriptures, testimonies etc) as the other stuff. I think it went OK.
That night, Harry had an awful time and couldn't sleep. It was his first proper time camping, and it was really windy and the tent was noisy and billowing. He got overtired, and really upset, and felt sick. I swapped beds with him - I can't sleep on a lilo, so had a caravan mattress, which I put him on, and then stroked his hair for ages. It absolutely killed me being in that position - my shoulder, collar bone, and knee were in so much pain from the fall during sledging! I ended up saying a prayer, and he calmed down then and fell asleep at about 3am. We got about 3 hours sleep.
The next morning, we had various classes, including one with Martin Guy on making a stretcher from poles (or branches) and coats, followed by preparing various animals he had freshly caught that morning, and cooking them on the fire.
Bishop enthusiastically timing Lucy and Harry's group. (Each team was timed at taking their invalid across the field and back!)
I was impressed with how well so many of the girls got stuck into gutting and skinning hares.
I think they started off a bit squeamish, but just got into it. Martin is very matter of fact, and knows his stuff well.
Lucy rather bloody.
They also did some fish gutting and prepared a pigeon. We got to eat what we had prepared, and it was good!! Most the girls had some - I was really proud of them!
During the morning I was feeling pretty exhausted and in a lot of pain in my shoulder/collar bone. I struggled through the morning, but by lunch could hardly function. I decided it would be best to take Harry home for the night, get some painkillers, have a decent sleep, and come back refreshed in the morning.
Luckily I wasn't running anything that afternoon. Gill had organised a service project at a Primary School.
We drove home (it took 2 hours!) and I had a nap and a bath while Harry played on the X-Box, then he slept for 11 hours in Jack's double bed.
We drove back to camp in the morning (another 2 hours - it should normally be just over 1 hour!), in time for a hike with the 12-16 year old Young Men. (The 16-18 year olds were on a separate camp.)
I snapped this picture of the girls' camp T-shirts which I had helped them tie-dye on Monday afternoon.
Jim Jolliffe Jnr had planned the hike, and it was great because it was a circular one from our camp site. The Young Men and their leaders drove to our site and we headed off.
I felt pretty refreshed for the hike, though had to keep taking painkillers.
Lunch break! We stopped near a village hall and had an arrangement to use their toilets.
A bit later we stopped again at a big park. Jack and his friends messing around.
Lucy and some of the girls from different wards.
Tom and his Huntingdon buddies!
Back at camp again!!
After the boys had gone we had a short break, then played with holi powder! Emma had filled lots of cheap socks with different coloured powders and tied each with a knot. We started off playing some team games where the socks got passed around, and some people got a bit of powder on them, but then we just let it be a complete free for all!
What a laugh!! The whole field (we'd used a separate one from the camping field) was filled with screaming, laughing girls (and Harry), running around whacking each other with socks, with powder flying everywhere!
Lucy and Harry getting stuck in, to the left of this picture!
I was just wandering around taking pictures for the whole time, but had my fair share of getting whacked!
The Northampton Stake Young Women's Presidency!
I think everyone enjoyed themselves!
I had excellent 'tan' lines when I took my wellies off!
On Wednesday night, President Clayton came and gave a super Fireside. We had a good chat afterwards, and I asked him if he'd be a referee on my Fire Fighter application form, which he agreed to.
The girls had a camp fire.
On Thursday 30th, I took this picture of Harry first thing in the morning - proof that he did actually do some sleeping on camp!
I took this one once he was awake - the holi powder shook off clothes and things pretty well, but lots of us still had colourful scalps!
Also on Thursday we went to Willen Lake, and most people went out on an assortment of peddle boats, kayaks and paddle boards etc. Here's Lucy with Heather and Myste.
Harry and I made it our duty to go round and splash everyone else we knew on the lake! We all swapped around a bit, and Harry spent a long time happily paddling round in a single kayak, while I went on different things with different girls.
At the end of the session a couple of the girls and I took a running jump off the end of the jetty!
On Thursday evening, each of the wards put on a skit. Huntingdon had changed the words to a Taylor Swift song to make it highly camp-relevant, and I think Lucy had taken the lead - being nice and bossy to everyone to them organised. I thought it was hilarious!!
After skits, President Hirst gave a Fireside, and then we made our way to the actual fire for Testimony Meeting. Most of the girls shared their feelings and testimonies in the dark around the fire, and also many of the leaders. Camp always seems such a feat of endurance, and takes such a huge amount of effort to prepare for, but without fail every year the Testimony Meeting is the highlight, and when you hear the girls saying what positive experiences they have had during camp, and how their testimonies have grown, it makes it all so worthwhile. It was very powerful.
I had a good talk with President Hirst afterwards, in part about the last Stake Council meeting which I was upset about, and felt a whole lot happier afterwards. I also asked him if he's be my second referee on the Fire Fighter application.
I went and helped in the kitchen to get hot chocolate ready, then sat round the camp fire chatting with a couple of the girls... precious time. I walked back to the hall with one of the older girls, talking about some of the problems and insecurities she faces. We talked till about half past midnight, when Jim Jolliffe came and found me and said Harry was calling out. I went back to our tent which was near the fire circle, and Harry was in a right state - crying and really angry. He'd gone to sleep before the Testimony Meeting, woken up when the girls started singing round the fire, and had apparently been calling out for ages telling them not to be so loud, but they hadn't heard him and he was too scared to leave the tent! I stayed with him, and he eventually calmed down enough to go back to sleep.
On the last morning of camp, we did an activity where everyone has paper taped to their backs, and everyone else writes about them. It's so much fun rushing round, seeing someone, thinking of all the positive things you like about them, then madly scribbling it down on their back. There would be longs chains of people each with someone writing on the next person along's back! You kind of forget you have one on your own back, then at the end it's such a lovely thing to remember and get to read it!
Here was mine.
Then came the big job of clearing up the entire camp site! I made a list of every single job along with a tick box on the white board, and people would see what needed doing, go off, then come back and tick it off. I always kind of dread the clear up, but everyone was brilliant and we got through it fine, then packed our own stuff away. Thankfully some missionaries came and took down the big marquee for us.
On Monday when I had put up my tent (badly), I'd not really had enough tent pegs, and the tent must have looked a right state, because when I got back to it in the evening, someone had re-pegged my tent using lovely new pegs. When I packed up, I tried to find out once again (had no luck on Monday) who had done it, to return their pegs and thanks them. It turned out to be two of the leaders from Northampton Ward, and they said the pegs were a gift. I was so touched! It was such a lovely act of service to me.
We finally left the camp site at about lunch time, and it took two hours (again!!) to get home.
It was wonderful to be home!! Scott, Jack and Tom had finished their camp the day before and it was nice to see them. They'd had a great time by all accounts, and Scott said all the Young Men had been good.
Lucy kind of staggered in with some stuff, leaving all the doors open, then collapsed. I put this picture on Facebook with the comment 'the conquering-camp-heroes return home' - it's exactly how we felt - victorious and jubilant at our survival! (And shattered!)
It really made me laugh when a couple of months later I came across this church cartoon!! ''Hi Honey, How was girls' camp?''