Pirate-themed Beaver camp a great success

The 1st Bradley Stoke beaver colony on camp at Woodhouse.

Katherine Robinson of the 1st Bradley Stoke Scout Group reports on a recent camp attended by 6 to 8 year-olds from the group’s Beaver section:

Beaver camp this year was held at Woodhouse on 16th-17th June 2012 and as you can probably tell, the theme was “Pirates”! As it happened, we had managed to choose one of the wettest Junes on record to take the group’s youngest sections under canvas for the first time, but what better weather for a nautical theme?! We needn’t have worried – all the Beavers seemed to be having far too much fun to let a little thing like the rain bother them.

The Beavers set sail on the Saturday morning (almost literally with all the rain!) and joined the crew for a real adventure. They quickly stowed their kit bags in their cabins and fell-in for their opening ceremony, complete with a real ship’s bell and the obligatory pirate flag. As new recruits they were soon being put through their paces. They set out on a treasure hunt, using their maps to find a chest containing their team names – Jolly Rogers, Buccaneers, Black Pearls, Flying Dutchman and Black Barnacles! Normal speech was banned and replaced instead with “pirate-talk” – yes became “Arrgh!”.

The afternoon was spent making their own team flags to carry around, designing bandanas to wear, forging swords to defend the camp, creating eye patches and using jewels to create their own pirate wristlets. They were all now looking (and sounding) like real pirates and they were soon putting their team work to the test with a rather muddy Tug-of-War tournament.

The 1st Bradley Stoke beaver colony - pirate group. The 1st Bradley Stoke beaver colony - tug of war.

Next came the challenge of arranging their bedding for the night to come – not something 6, 7 and 8 year-olds are used to doing at all, especially in tents with five or six other companions! After a delicious supper cooked by our expert catering crew in their outdoor galley, the Beavers were also given the additional challenge of doing their own washing-up! After a few horrified little faces, they soon got used to the idea and some even volunteered for extra!

After supper they were set to work again decorating jam-jar lanterns with jewels and their own art designs in preparation for our candle-lit procession to the campfire. Unfortunately, due to the inclement weather, we took the decision to abandon the fabulous campfire circle that Woodhouse provide, in favour of our own in-camp arrangement with small fires in front of our “wigwam” shelter. The pirate teams then lit their lanterns and paraded around the camp, accompanied by the theme music from “Pirates of the Caribbean”! What a sight! Marshmallows were toasted over the open fires while everyone joined in with the Pirate songs, sketches and even a rendition of a “last night of the Proms”-style Hornpipe!

The Beavers then retired to their quarters with much excitement at the prospect of “sleeping” in tents. Secret midnight feasts were munched (not that we knew about that, of course!) and they eventually went to sleep … but were up at dawn on the Sunday, ready for yet more Pirate adventures!

The weather was much kinder on the Sunday and we caught a rare glimpse of summer at last. We took advantage of this and encouraged the Beavers to pack and empty their tents early in the hope that they could be taken down dry. If you can imagine what 29 lots of bag contents look like when they’ve been scattered to the four winds, it took them quite some time to locate and pack their belongings!

We then held our own traditional “Scouts Own” – an opportunity for us to come together and think about why we were there and to remember all the Scouts around the World who were also on camp, doing the same as us, but maybe not as fortunate as we are. The Beavers were asked to use one word to describe camp – “fun”, “amazing”, “friends”and “food” were just some of them.

Then it was time to resume their Pirate training and they were given the news that a marauding Pirate (“Heartless Charles”) was preparing to attack the camp and steal their treasure! They needed to learn how to defend themselves by laying secret trails to follow through the woods, lighting fires to signal each other and tie strong knots and lashings. Their newly learnt skills culminated in them making catapults to fire at the enemy and building a real bridge.

After lunch the enemy pirates invaded, the camp’s treasure chest and chocolate coin booty was stolen and it was action stations! The catapults fired water bombs and the now fully-fledged Beaver Pirates successfully defeated the invaders, stealing back their treasure and winning the day.

All too soon it was time for the closing ceremony and prize-giving. Such things as “Best dressed Pirate” and “Top Arrgh!” were awarded, with teams and individuals being recognised for meritorious conduct. The wonderful ship’s bell was rung for the last time and the Beaver Pirates were discharged from the crew back into the care of their waiting parents.

The fact that the camp was so successful was down to the enormous efforts made by all the adults who gave up their weekend to help run the exciting activities, supervise the teams going round, feed everyone and make sure all our equipment was in working order. We were also very lucky this year to have had a number of parent helpers who volunteered to come along and experience what goes on “behind the scenes” at a scout camp. My heartfelt thanks to everyone involved.

We have had many positive comments back from parents, but I was especially struck by one Beaver whose response on being asked what he had done, replied that he had “made thousands of new friends and had an awesome time”! That is why we take Beavers to camp – roll on next year!

Related link: Youth Organisations in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)

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