As you might have noticed from some of my previous posts, we love to get out and about in the fresh air. We’re cooped up at work and school all week so are always desperate to get outdoors when we can.
We were invited to an open day with The Bushcraft Company and jumped at the chance! It sounded like a great idea to get outdoors, try something new, and tear Little H away from her tablet.
The Bushcraft Company hold summer camps for children age 6 -15, out in the woods at various locations across the UK. They run 2-day, 3-day and 5-day camps, all of which are fully residential. The open day was being held as a chance for parents to experience first hand what goes on at one of their camps.
So last weekend we got up bright and early and drove up to Camp Wilderness in Hatfield Woods. It was a lovely, sunny day which was lucky as I really didn’t fancy spending a day in the woods if it was raining!
The journey from Dorset didn’t quite go as easy as we’d envisaged. Our sat nav didn’t like the postcode for the camp and sent us in circles for about an hour. We eventually arrived late and very stressed, but the less said about that the better!
Bushcraft Fun At Camp Wilderness
On the drive up to the camp, the first thing we noticed were lots of tents in the woods. It looked like something from an American settlement, rather than a campsite you’d usually find in an English woods.
I’m not a camping kind of girl in the slightest, I definitely need my creature comforts, but even I have to admit that the bell tents looked very cool. We had a peak inside and they are huge.
When we got there a fire building demo was already underway. One of the camp leaders was teaching everyone different ways to build a campfire – including using a battery and wire wool, vaseline and cotton wool, and potassium permanganate and glycerine which creates a cool purple flame. The kids all enjoyed watching and helping out.
We then went off into the woods in groups to build our own campfires. Everyone went off to collect the different types of sticks we needed and we all came back with a good haul.
When we’d all collected enough sticks we lit the campfire. The children were allowed to get really hands on with building the fire and having a go with one of the methods they’d seen before. Our fire was pretty impressive and it was burning away in no time.
I’ve only been camping once, when I was about 11 with the girl guides, and I remember the food being awful. I hardly ate for the whole week and made my Dad stop at the first petrol station on the way home to get me a Mars Bar! If your kids came to Camp Wilderness you wouldn’t need to worry about the food. The burgers we cooked on the campfire were delicious, and there was lots of fruit for the kids to help themselves to.
While we were waiting for our lunch to cook the kids were given some clay to make a bowl or cup like “in the old days”.
After lunch the camp leader showed us how to cover up the remains of the fire, and the kids all had great fun flinging wet ash into the woods and getting absolutely filthy.
Little H also used a charcoaled stick to do some drawings. There was no time at all for the kids to get bored.
They then went off with the camp leaders to play some hide & seek games in the woods. Little H had great fun even though I’m not sure she was quite playing by the rules!
In the afternoon we were shown how to camouflage ourselves. Little H didn’t want any of the face paint on so we decorated the husband with it instead (he later popped into Tesco on the way home forgetting it was on his face!). An instructor who reminded us of Bear Grylls passed around some animal hides and we all had to guess what animals they had come from.
He also showed us the different types of traps you can use to catch animals, using some that had been set up around in the woods.
To end the day we made some bracelets and toasted some marshmallows on the campfire which Little H said was her favourite part of the day!
We had a really good day, and it was great fun to do some things that none of us had done before. Little H had a brilliant time and really enjoyed herself. She asked if she could stay the night in one of the bell tents – she said she’d happily stay there without us, but I think bedtime would have been a different story!
Camp Wildfire is a fantastic idea for something to do in the summer holidays for kids, and a good childcare option for working parents. I don’t think I’d send Little H for a few years yet though she would actually be old enough this summer. I’ll definitely keep it in mind for when she’s older though, these are great skills all children should learn, as well as being lots of fun and a good way to make some new friends.
We got home stinking of the campfire, exhausted, and absolutely filthy – the sign of a very good day out I think!