On Friday 13th to Sunday 15th July 2018, I attended Girlguiding West Yorkshire South’s county camp “GO WYS” at the Hesley Wood Scout campsite and activity centre in Clapham near Sheffield. At 23 years old, I’m still currently within the age range to attend as a Senior Section so as soon as I received the email about the Senior Section sub-camp (which I’d previously heard about at a division meeting), I immediately filled out and submitted the form and deposit for the camp!
While at the camp, I kept a journal of what I did at the Senior Section sub-camp to keep a memory of it, and the original writing covered 14 sides of A5. Here is an abridged version of my diary of my experience at GO WYS County Camp 2018.
Friday 13th July 2018
I arrived at the Hesley Wood campsite at 6:10pm and after I said goodbye to my mum and brother, one of the leaders in the car park showed me the direction to the Senior Section sub-camp. On arrival, one of the group leaders, Charleen, took me to the tent I would be sharing with the three other girls from across West Yorkshire South who were participating in the Senior Section sub-camp – Beth, Katie and Kai. We finished setting up the tent together and rolled out our sleeping bags and mats inside. While Charleen and the other group leaders, Suzie and Rachael, were cooking dinner, the four of us set off to explore the campsite. We found the go-kart track (which was lined with car tyres), the climbing wall and the crate-stacking activity zone, as well as one of the Guide camping sites and a group of Beavers.
At 7:30pm, we set up our camping chairs outside the hut, and served ourselves pasta bolognaise with cheese and garlic bread for our first meal together. As we ate, Suzie explained that while the Guides have priority for the “adventurous activities”, she had a special challenge for us comprised of a series of tasks with categories including “Say Cheese” and “Where’s Your Head At”. Just as we finished our main course, it started to drizzle slightly, so we moved our chairs into the hall of the hut to eat dessert (a choice of either chocolate or syrup sponge, or sticky toffee pudding with custard).
At 8:40pm, we walked down to the marquee where the opening ceremony was starting. We were each given a piece of coloured bunting to represent ourselves and we had to tie our own piece with pieces from the other members of our unit/group, and then with the pieces of girls from other units to create one GIANT chain of multi-coloured bunting – this is where learning to tie reef knots for the Brownie Traditions badge in 2004 came in useful. Then it was the disco. While the music played, most of the Guides went outside and a couple of us made friends with a few Guides from Huddersfield Dartmouth division.
It started to rain properly at about 9:30pm, so the Guides started queueing at the “swap shop” to organise and swap their activity tickets for Saturday. All four of us took tickets to do bushcraft for the 1:30 – 2:30pm session on Saturday afternoon. We were given the first choice for picking activities for Sunday morning, so I chose Craft for the 9:30 – 10:30am session and Archery for the 11am – 12pm session, while the other girls in my tent chose zip lining. When we got back to the campsite, we went inside the hut to wash the dishes left from dinner in the kitchen.
Just after 11pm (curfew time for the Guides, although we still found a few Guides there), we went to the main toilet and shower block to get ready for bed. We returned to our tent and settled into our sleeping bags at about 11:45pm.
Saturday 14th July 2018
At 6am, I woke up to check the time because it was really light outside, but I went straight back to sleep. It rained during the night, and even the inside of the tent felt wet if you accidentally touched it.
At 7:45am, three of the four of us got up, got changed in the main toilet and shower block, and returned for breakfast at the hut on our campsite at 8:30am. We had a choice of toast, a selection of different Kelloggs cereals and fruit – I had a bowl of Coco Pops and a banana.
After we had all finished eating breakfast, Suzie explained our Senior Section sub-camp challenge for the weekend: we would have to solve all the tasks to reveal the name of who the next Chief Guide could be. We each spun the wheel to receive a task on a piece of coloured card that matched the colour the arrow on the wheel stopped at:
- Find 1st Wakefield Guides, find out what plot number their campsite was on and how many girls (including leaders) they had with them, and add the two numbers together to find the number that corresponded to the letter that this task represented in the challenge (Move It, Move It). This was my task.
- Count the number of external security cameras on the campsite (Move It, Move It).
- Find the tree that Suzie had had her photo taken in and replicate that photo (Say Cheese).
- Find the carabineer that Charleen had had her photo taken with and replicate that photo (Say Cheese).
We completed my task first – 1st Wakefield Guides were based on plot 21 and had about 23 girls with them including leaders, then we found the number of external security cameras on the campsite (6), and replicated Suzie’s photo of herself in the tree, before returning to our campsite at 10:35am for a snack of Nutella on toast. We picked a few new tasks to complete and split into two groups to try to complete them:
- Find and take a picture of a plastic blackbird planted somewhere on the campsite (Say Cheese).
- Visit the marquee from the opening ceremony and using a compass, follow the set of directions given on the piece of paper to find a riddle to solve (Move It, Move It).
- Count the number of steps to the top of “Mount Everest” (Move It, Move It).
- Find the same water tap that Rachael had had her photo taken pretending to drink water from and replicate that photo (Say Cheese).
I went with Kai to try to find the carabineer from the first set of tasks and the water tap, but we struggled to find either. Katie and Beth successfully found the plastic blackbird and solved the riddle they had found in the marquee. After coming back together, we completed another two tasks, multiplying the number of Beavers you can fit at the round tables in the playground by the number you can fit at the rectangular tables to find the number to be divided by the number represented by the letter A, and taking a selfie at the totem pole near the gift shop to replicate one that Suzie, Charleen and Rachael had taken together there. I visited the gift shop and bought a Hesley Wood Activity Centre woven badge – they didn’t have a pin badge for the activity centre, much to my disappointment as a pin badge collector. For lunch at about 12:45pm, Rachael cooked jacket potatoes for us which we served with tuna, grated cheese and salad.
At 1:30pm, we went to bushcraft, where we were split into groups to build dens. My group built our den against a tree, but unlike the other dens, we only managed to find enough long branches and leafy branch coverings to make a one-person den, which we named The Slytherin Common Room. We made boggarts out of clay and natural materials such as twigs and leaves. One girl made a cow and a ladybird, and I tried to make a butterfly but it kept falling apart.
For the 3pm activity session, we had been pre-booked by our leaders to attend the CSI session as they thought it would be really interesting for us. First, we went into a room in the Royston building where we put our fingerprints on a plastic bottle, a Coke can and a wine bottle, before these were dusted with either aluminium powder or another special powder to reveal the fingerprints with the help of a magnifying glass. We had a go at identifying the patterns of our own fingerprints using a sheet of known fingerprint pattern details to match them against. Next, we had to find the evidence from a fake crime scene in the garden and suggest how information about a potential suspect could be collected using the evidence. For the last part of the CSI session, we were given a booklet of the shoeprint patterns of different brands and styles of trainers and tried to match our own trainers to prints from the booklet. We covered the soles of our trainers in dirt and then rested one foot on a chair to create a print which we covered with a gel sheet to make an impression of the shoeprint to keep. Last of all, three people placed their feet into a box filled with stones and sand, and then we made a cement-like substance to cover the footprint with. My group used a different mixture to the others and it kept setting too quickly, and the CSI activity leader had to help by adding more water.
At 5pm, we set off to complete the task of finding out how many steps there are to reach the top of “Mount Everest” (16 steps) and tried again to find the water tap that Rachael had a photo with. We returned to the camp area to receive more tasks, then one of the girls stayed behind to unravel a VERY LONG piece of wool that was wrapped in a very complicated way around several trees to find a clue to who stole Mrs Archer’s cake, while the rest of us set off with a trowel to find the 100th anniversary neckerchief which a riddle had been hidden under, and tried to find a clue that had been hidden at Launch Pad 3 by the bob sledge track. Unfortunately, the latter might have been moved by the Scout group we had seen there earlier. We returned to the campsite to solve the riddle.
The riddle was to solve who had come in which place in a hurdles race. First, I read through the passage and wrote down who had finished before other participants, then again writing who had finished after each other participant, i.e. Mick finished before Jack and Laura, but after Ivor, May, Leigh and Inga. It got very frustrating, but I managed to relatively easily solve places 1, 2, 9 and 10.
At 7pm, we went inside to serve dinner – normal or spicy burgers with sweet potato fries, followed by toffee cheesecake or salted caramel gateau with/without cream. We washed the dishes before walking to the campfire for 8pm.
At the campfire, we sat on benches set in rows of a large circle around the fire. A Brownie pack and a Beaver group sat near the front. First, four Explorer Scouts were awarded their Explorer Belts and a Guide from 1st Wakefield Guides was awarded her Baden-Powell Challenge award. We sang The Frog Song, a slight variation of Old MacDonald, The Grand Old Duke of York, I Have A Mango, There Was A Crazy Moose, We’re Making A Purple Stew, Bananas of the World Unite, Oh You’ll Never Get To Heaven, When I Was One (The Pirate Song), and Have You Ever Seen A Penguin Come To Tea. At the end, we all stood up and gathered closer to the campfire to sing Kumbaya and Campfire’s Burning, before returning to the campsite at 9pm. I then decided to go back to the riddle and FINALLY solved it!
Afterwards, we gathered our camp blankets and camp chairs in a circle for hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows, a chat and discussion of the badges we have. One of the girls has a special Hogwarts crest badge from a Harry Potter camp she did, Suzie has her Brownie sash sewn onto her blanket, and Rachael has the same West Yorkshire South Queen’s Golden Jubilee challenge badge that I earned in Rainbows in 2002 as well as the same green Rainbow promise badge.
Just before we started to wind down for the evening at about 11:30pm, I gave out the friendship bracelets I had made as SWAPS. A couple of us got ready for bed in the hut while the others used the main toilet and shower block to change into pyjamas and brush teeth. After doing some writing with the help of my torch in the outer space of the tent, I settled into my sleeping bag at 12:15am.
Sunday 15th July 2018
We got up at about 8am and got dressed into uniform before breakfast. I had Nutella on toast with a banana and a cup of water, while Rachael cooked bacon sandwiches for everyone else. I took a quick walk to check where Archery was for later.
For the 9:30am activity session, I had booked to go to Craft on my own while the other three Senior Section girls stayed at the campsite. At the entrance of the marquee from the opening ceremony where Craft was now being held, we were asked to leave our feedback about the camp on Post-It notes, so I wrote “The whole camp was really fun – except the part where it rained!” In the marquee, we decorated tote bags with fabric markers. I drew a Girlguiding trefoil shape with the yellow marker, then filled a circle around it in blue. Some of the Guides at my table drew tents, climbing walls and other activity-related pictures, and we all wrote “GO WYS” and “Hesley Wood” to finish the designs.
At 11am, I went to archery while the other girls went to zip lining. For the first set of 3 arrows, I scored 7, 8 and 9, then I scored 4, 5 and 7 for the second set. Next, we each wrote our names on pieces of card which were pinned to the target board, and we had to try to hit other people’s names with our arrows. My name was hit really early in the game – but I was still able to try to hit other people’s names – and 5 girls didn’t have their names hit at all by the end of the game! Afterwards, I returned to the Senior Section campsite, and after a short break, Charleen gave us an extra tip which helped us to FINALLY find the carabineer to take a photo with on plot 21, where 1st Wakefield Guides had been camping.
At 12:30pm, we walked to the marquee again for the camp closing ceremony. Louise from Spen Valley division made a speech, thanks were given to all the leaders who had spent the past year planning and organising the camp, and to us for coming to and participating in the camp. Each unit or division was given back their part of the chain of bunting from the opening ceremony, and the cement shoeprint impressions were given out.
For lunch, we could eat leftovers from Friday dinner, Saturday lunch or Saturday dinner, or we could make a sandwich. I ate one of the spare jacket potatoes from Saturday lunch with tuna, cheese and salad, followed by salted caramel gateau. We then removed everything from our tent, dismantled it and packed it away.
For our final task of the challenge which had been left from Saturday afternoon, we found the tap where Rachael had had her photo taken pretending to drink from the tap, but the tap itself had been removed and replaced with a cover over the exposed pipe. As a result of this, we were only able to take a photo in the same pose as Rachael over the tap cover. All the letters that corresponded to the numbers revealed in the tasks we completed during the weekend formed the question “Who is the next big thing?” and we realised that the toadstool and owl in the paddling pool set up at our campsite was a clue, and the Brownie story gave us the answer to who the next Chief Guide could be: “Twist me and turn me and show me the elf, I looked in the water and there I saw MYSELF!”
At 2:25pm, we sat in a circle to “de-camp”. Suzie presented us with our camp badges and we all signed each other’s individual pieces of bunting, before two of the girls left at 2:45pm. I took a final look in the gift shop before my mum arrived to collect me and we left at 3:25pm.
I have very much enjoyed my first experience of a Guide camp and I look forward to attending many more as a leader in the future both locally and maybe even further afield. Bring on World of Opportunities in September!
— Katie Beadle, 106th Huddersfield (Lindley Methodist) Guides