So Pip’s video on memories of summer brought back to me memories of a trip I took part in while at school. I suppose you’d call it Summer Camp – schools here in the UK basically have a trip around the last year of junior school to some “outward bound camp” destination mostly in Wales or the Lake District. I guess I’d have been about 11 or 12 years old and although I used to go camping every year in a biggish tent with my mum, dad, brother, this was actually the first time I had ever been away – to stay away for a week – without them. I was filled with a mixture of fear and excitement.
Our group went to the Lake District and we did all sorts of cool stuff from night orienteering to gorge walking, canoeing, walking up mountains – you name it and we did it. We stayed in dormitories mostly, with the boys in a separate one from the girls, although it didn’t take long for either gender to meet up in each other’s rooms at night after lights out for snacks and gossip. It was at camp where I discovered my first love. Her name was Heather and she was an instructor. I guess she was in her early 20’s so way older than me but I know that many of us were struck dumb by her for the whole week. We’d have wrestled wild animals if it meant a smile from her…sigh! It’s funny but I can still partially remember her face now!
Aaanyway, one night we had to go out orienteering and then make our way back to the complex after getting all of the tickets. Unfortunately I suspect that the other 5 or 6 people who were in my group had as much clue as I did about map reading and the use of a compass, suffice to say I hadn’t really been listening to the instructor. So we got well and truly lost. We got so lost that even with about a dozen groups of us all shouting and swinging torches around like really crap James Bond bad guys, in the middle of pitch black open land, on top of a majorly sized hill, we couldn’t see any sign of life whatsoever. We were that lost!
However, it was almost as if the adults (who were back at the complex with their hot coco) had anticipated the propensity for denseness in us and equipped us all with sleeping bags and bivvy bags (large plastic bags to sleep in to keep dry), so deciding it was best for us to sleep on top of this hill and wait until morning to discover where we were we all kipped down. I guess I must have been dead beat as I was woken up to daylight and lots of laughter as I was rolled down the hill all wrapped up like a cocoon. Yeah very funny guys. The bastards still remind me of this hilarious event to this day.
The second episode I vividly remember is abseiling down a series of cliffs. I had done this a few times before with my brother so knew exactly how to get into the harness, feed the rope through the karabiner and what to do. Unfortunately, a day or so prior I had begun to suffer from “a dose of the trots”, probably something I ate and they had been giving me some god awful purple drink to settle my stomach/guts and it seemed to be sort of working…up until the last cliff. No word of a lie, but I got half way down and all of a sudden my abdomen went “GURGLE…”. Immediately I felt like the boy had taken his finger out of the dam and I released that rope like a Special Forces trained Ninja and dropped like a stone the last 2 storeys to ground level, unclipped myself, slung the kit to the awestruck helper at the bottom and ran off whimpering into the woods like a demented ape.
I didn’t make it in time.
It was harrowing.
I’ll just say that at times like these, NO leaves are large enough. I suspect my underpants are still hanging from that tree branch and that the forest creatures have still got an exclusion zone around it. I have a vision of sitting in the very back of the mini bus on the way back to the complex, and everyone else holding their noses. I had a pair of purple corduroys on and never wore them again.
I have lots more holiday antics, mostly funny / odd but not as traumatic as the above.