I wake to the sound of birdsong and the faint smell of wood smoke. The early morning sun shines brightly through white canvas of our bell tent. I glance at the clock, 6:30, forty five minutes to wait until I can venture out of the little tent crammed with six (well, five now) sleeping children all worn out from their previous days full of fun activities, laughter and jokes at the Really Wild Home Ed Camp. Each and every day so far has been amazing and jam packed with fun. Silently I look about me, I can see five heads on five pillows, their bodies wrapped in sleeping bags, blankets and layers of clothes, safe from the cold air. One by one the campers awake, their bed heads very noticable, I grin at them and we all start to chat. I rummage about in my clothes pile and pull out of a pocket my camp programme. We all pour over it and discuss the day’s plan. Everyone’s heading in different directions at different times, but I manage to figure it all out. Stella and I smile at each other through the confusion, us older girls are so organised, we planned it all yesterday.
At roughly 7:15 we all stumble out into the fresh morning air, all dressed and ready to go. It’s Thursday morning and the last day of the camp. We shovel down our muesli and Stella, Irys, Tiger and I all head off into the main meeting area ( called the village, even though it’s a fenced off section of a field with a marquee and a giant tipi in it) to gather for the animal kingdom walk. The boys, Caedmon, Spenser and Evan stay back at the fire. Steve takes us all into Grassy field and does a little talk about animal tracks, homes, food, signs, bones, fur and lastly POO! I keep watching out for my friend Benny and eventually he joins us. We walk up the side of the field, doing a little foraging along the way. I stop with Stella, Tiger and Benny, my three best friends, for a snack of ‘bread and cheese’. In the war children were told to go out straight after breakfast and not come back until tea time. “There’s plenty of bread and cheese on the hawthorn tree”, their parents would say. What they meant by this was that the leaves are bread and the whitey yellow petals are the cheese.
We enter Little Wood and Steve walks down to the stream. All the animals come to drink here and we spot plenty of tracks in the sticky mud. A dainty deer, a slinking fox, a colourful pheasant and even maybe a lumbering badger. We creep along the edge and for some reason I feel the need to whisper it’s so peaceful and tranquil. It’s almost as if the leader of the animal kingdom has you under his spell. I wonder what sort of animal would have this real magic?
After walking a little further we discover some rabbit holes. We inspect the poo and freshly dug earth. Steve wants to show us something else, something I have seen many times before, something I have always wanted to explore, something that is a Wowo secret and a place forbidden to any of us children. It’s exciting as we walk towards it, then we see it, the gaping hole, the hole that we know if any of us fell in we would disappear. We stare down into the darkness for a while then Steve beckons to me, I go over and he starts to lower me into that deep damp abyss. I have not a trace of fear in me, only ecstatic excitement. As my feet hit the bottom I call up to Steve and the others. Now only a my head is sticking out, I look down and see that I am only standing on a narrow ledge and that the bottom is still far below me. My eyes grow accustomed to the gloom and beneath me I see a tunnel that I could easily squeeze through, that I long to explore, but Steve is already pulling me up.
The camp really was wild, we were up from 6:30am until 11:00pm running around, going from knife craft to tarpology, camp craft to stalking, tracking to search and rescue and foraging to cordage making. We hardly saw Mum and Dad, only at breakfast, lunch and dinner and when they forced us to brush our teeth before bed. Talking of brushing I’m almost certain there’s no need for hair brushes and clean knickers on camp, but that’s another adult rule. The freedom was pretty cool, being able to decide what activities we wanted to do. We all enjoyed ourselves loads and none of us can wait until next years Really Wild Home Ed Camp. Meanwhile it’s lots of early nights for us!
Really Wild Photo Gallery