Forbes’ House Camp

As the sun dropped towards the horizon on Saturday night of 23 April, fourteen pupils from Forbes assembled at the Manor for their House Camp. The size of their bags and the stacks of blankets suggested that some at least had seen the forecast overnight.

The first item of business was to get our campfire going, for it was to provide both our food and warmth for the next few hours. Lots of collecting wood, one match, and some puffing and blowing was all it took to get the fire going and soon we were all sat around enjoying its warmth.

Next up was the construction of the shelter the pupils were going to be sleeping in. After a brief demonstration, groups of three took a tarpaulin, some string and a handful of tent pegs and began to build. The results were all pretty sturdy but aesthetically they ranged from military precision to rubbish heap!

After making a bedroll and ensuring everything was ready for the descending darkness the pupils moved onto dinner. Jacket potatoes taste best when cooked on a fire and some pupils managed three whose skins varied from nicely crispy to charred and black!

Once dinner was over, a wide game sent all the pupils crashing through the woods and the now dark night was punctuated by screams as the ‘outcasts’ ambushed the members of the ‘up’ and ‘down’ tribes, stealing their lives and sending them back to the start point.

Marshmallows and hot-chocolate was served before the pupils climbing into their makeshift beds, building nests for themselves and disappearing under piles of blankets in preparation for the cold due after midnight.

Rising in the morning was an early but leisurely affair as pupils emerged from their beds and packed up their tents. After a breakfast eaten round a warming fire, we divided into two groups and set off on a couple of activities. One group completed an orienteering course around the grounds, hunting for controls in the far flung corners of the Manor woods, and in at least one case discovering a small stream they didn’t know was there. The other went on a trek around the area, finding challenges in the natural environment, with trees to climb over and under, rivers to cross on ropes and a magic stick that just seemed inexplicably float!

After swapping activities the groups returned to the campfire and had a chance to reflect on a programme that had hot fires and cold weather, hard work and leisurely conversation, responsibility for themselves and freedom to run in the woods and a chance to interact as a House outside of the constraints of the School day.


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