We met up at the car park beside the school and were off to Larch Hill just after 7pm. We had 11 girls and 5 lads as well as Alan, Brendan, Ciaran, & Fiona. Brendan was the first to arrive at Larch Hill, so he checked us in and found out that we would be in the Taylor field. It was going to be a busy weekend with over 700 staying on Saturday night. Brendan organised for a trailer to carry up our tents and group gear to the field. The scouts had to carry their own bags.
We set to work immediately. The scouts split into to groups and started pitching the Icelandic tents. Brendan, Alan and Fiona helped them while Ciaran pitched up 3 dome tents for the leaders. The sun was shining, but it was still raining as only it can in Ireland. Just a shower though and it didn’t last too long.
When the two tents were pitched we put the boys into one and the girls into the other. They claimed a spot, marked their territory and laid out their gear. We then headed back down to the car park to get some gadget poles to build our table. We took the longest ones we could find in order to make a table and bench big enough for everyone to sit at. There was no transport available for them, so the scouts had to carry them back up to the field. It was getting late so we decided to get a fire going so that we could make our supper. While some scouts helped make the table, others gathered fire wood and helped get the fire going.There were plenty of square lashings needed for the table so it was a really good idea to practice them on Thursday night at our meeting. The table was up in no-time at all.
Unfortunately Alan was not staying the night so we said goodby to him after supper – Hot Chocolate, Biscuits etc. Some of the scouts were fairly tired and wanted to get into their pyjamas, but they didn’t want to get changed in the tents. We said they could bring them with them on a ramble to see the city by night from the Triangular Field at the top of the Campsite and then they could get changed at the toilet block when they were brushing teeth etc. before bed.
The wind was picking up so we made sure that the tents were properly pegged down so that none of them would collapse. Imagine such a thing. Then we all went to bed.
Saturday morning dawned very early for Brendan and Ciaran. at 6:10 am they were woken by the sound of their tent flapping around like a headless chicken as it came and landed on them in their cosy sleeping bags. Ciaran, being the younger of the two was volunteered to get up and peg out the tent and guys again. Good man Ciaran. At 8am it was time to get up officially. Breakfast consisted of a bowl of cereal and some bread and butter for most of the scouts. The leaders had Granola with Natural Yoghurt (Yum Yum) and Fiona had a cup of tea. Surprisingly, she is the only one that drinks the stuff. After we had finished our wash-ups, which the scouts didn’t seem too impressed with, we put on our boots and headed off for a hike towards Ticknock and the Wicklow Way.
We went though the Dolmen Field and up into the woods at the top of Larch Hill stopping off to take in the new Bivvy Huts there. We got out onto Kilmashogue Lane and up into the Wicklow Way. It was a beautiful morning and the sun started to beat down. Most of the scouts had way too many layers on or heavy coats and they ended up carrying them. Apparently some of the scouts didn’t sleep very well so there were some tired legs and the walk took a while. There were fabulous views out across Dublin City again. We were running a little bit slow so we took a short cut across the back of Ticknock instead of heading all of the way up to Fairy Castle, and looped back around on to the trail that we had come from.
By the time we got back to Larch Hill it was time for Lunch. The Raven Patrol were having sandwiches. The Cobra & Jaguar Patrols were cooking and so needed to get their fires going. The Raven Patrol were finished way before the others and had plenty to eat. Ellie forgot to add oil to the pan for their pancakes and so was left with a stodgy mess. The Cobra patrol took a while to light their fire. Let’s just say that lessons were learned and sandwiches will most likely be eaten in the future.
After lunch some of the scouts paid a visit to the scout shop and had a bit of free time. We gathered them all up after a while and gave everyone a knife or axe and showed them how to use them again. It had been a while. Everyone sat for a good while whittling and chopping, honing their skills.
By 4:30pm it was time to start preparing for dinner. The scouts could not get over the fact that it took soooooooo long to prep for a meal. We split them into their patrols and made sure that they stayed in them. There had been a bit too much messing and wandering off so the PLs were told to keep their patrol together while cooking their dinners.
The scouts all did really well at the cooking and most of them ate the dinners. Some of them struggled a bit, but they’ll just have to learn that if you don’t eat on camp, you go hungry. Simple as that.
After dinner Alan arrived back and we headed out for a ramble to explore Larch Hill. We started off down at the bottom of our field at the old swimming pool. It had been full earlier on in the day when there were some groups playing about in it, including some of our scouts during their free time.
We followed the river all the way along to the main gate of Larch Hill and had some fun chasing a frog about in the river and messing about.
We climbed up the steep bank to the Melvin Field. This is the field where they used to host the national scout camp-craft competition each year. From there, we headed over to the Campfire Circle through the Training Field. There were a few Beaver groups having a small campfire there and they invited us to join. When they asked if we wanted to do a song, Brendan wasn’t shy at all and got straight up and belted out a few classics. The scouts didn’t know what to make of it as they had never been to a campfire before and thought it was really embarrassing. They are just a bit too cool for school at the moment, but we’ll knock that out of them on Summer Camp. From the campfire we headed back up to our site to get a bit of supper into us before it got too dark and late. It was Beans on toast and some Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hot Chocolate.
The scouts wanted to play a game of Man Hunt, but since no one could agree on the rules, we decided to play a game of Relevio. Essentially a game of chasing where when caught you go to a den, but can be freed again by someone who has not been caught running into the den and shouting RELEVIO. Fiona stayed on site with James who was not feeling very well and everyone else went into the woods above the Dolmen Field. It was dark by now. The leaders (Alan, Brendan, & Ciaran) were on for the first game. It didn’t take long to capture most of the scouts, but Ciara and Jessica proved elusive for a while. Alan caught Jessica close to the den, and Brendan spotted Ciara at the same time. They were trying a pincer movement. Brendan called for backup and he and Ciaran gave chase. She was caught with a spectacular dive by Brendan (which no one saw because it was so dark, but trust me it was impressive for such an old guy). Next the PLs and APLs were on. The game was called to an abrupt halt when Jack tried to see if his knee was harder than one of the big Granite rocks in the woods. It wasn’t. He was helped back to the tents for some First Aid on the cut. By then it was time for pyjamas and bed.
Sunday morning dawned another bright and sunny day and since the scouts were very tired we decided to let them sleep in until 9am. Usually on camp, everyone would be up for 8am and fed and watered by 9 and ready for activities by 9:30, but the leaders elected to take it easy on our first camp. It was a slow and lazy morning. Brendan, Alan and Fiona tried out a new Hammock that Brendan had gotten for bivvying. It’s always risky getting into a hammock. They were ready for cartoon like spins, but actually it was fairly straight forward and very comfortable. Some of the scouts came over to see what we were up to and had a go as well.
By about 11:30 we started to get organised to break camp. Gear was taken out of the tents and the site was cleaned. The tents were dropped and rolled away. Lunch was on the go at the same time. Sandwiches, French Toast and Sausages for the 3 patrols. There was a bit of washing up to be done and the table needed to come down and the poles brought back to the car park too. It took the rest of the afternoon to get it all done and make sure that the site was spotless. We loaded up the cars and headed for home at about 3:30pm.
We arrived back in Balbriggan just after 4pm where the parents were waiting to see how we all got on. It was a very successful camp and lots of lessons were learned by both the scouts and the leaders (but mostly by the scouts). Everyone is now really looking forward to Summer Camp in July. WOOP WOOP.