Robin Hood camp

Last weekend was a busy one.

I spent Friday at Teddy Rocks, a music festival that started life in 2011 as a one-off gig in a pub to raise money for children’s cancer and is now a three day event in a field, headlined by Twin Atlantic, Modestep and Scouting for Girls and this year raised £76,659. This post was meant to be about Teddy Rocks, actually, but then I realised I don’t have all that much to say about it. I thought I didn’t like live music (too loud, too many people) but it’s quite good fun if I can get as far back from the stage as I like and if I can sit on the grass if I want to and Twin Atlantic were very good and so were their pyrotechnics.

So after far too little sleep I headed off for Guide camp on Saturday morning. These were not my Guides, so not my responsibility, which is my favourite kind of camp. And it was indoor camp which is definitely the best kind for April.

The theme was Robin Hood – because all Guide camps have a theme to base Patrol names, activities and meals on. On Friday night, while watching the Disney film, they’d made green Robin Hood hats and there was a special one waiting for me when I arrived on Saturday morning.

On Saturday I:

  • supervised the making of necklaces from clay and natural materials for Maid Marian and judged impartially which was the best
  • Supervised/helped with cleaning the hall after they’d disguised each other as trees (while muttering “till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane”)
  • Played the part of the Sheriff in a wide game and chased Guides around the campsite to steal their coins and throw then in jail
  • Made mini bows and arrows from lolly sticks and cotton buds and organised a miniature tournament
  • Taught them two new action songs
  • Patrolled the campsite during a night-time wide game and looked after the ones who are scared of being outside on their own in the dark (which is a lot; kids don’t play outside after dark much these days)
  • Washed up an entire unit’s worth of hot chocolate cups since I am no help with the Leaders’ Traditional Camp Jigsaw.

On Sunday came my real reason for being there. This was Robin Hood camp, therefore archery must be done and I was finally going to put my qualification to good use.

We’d gone down to the office on Saturday to check on equipment. I was nervous about the idea, in particular, of having to string the bows, especially if it had to be done in front of the girls during our two hour window of lesson time because I’ve only strung bows a couple of times. But there was a group in immediately before us and a group in immediately after us and so the equipment would be right there.

We arrived at the range and the group just leaving asked if they could leave their stuff there and then… “Where’s your equipment?” We explained that we were going to use the equipment that was already there and they promptly explained that no we weren’t because that was their private equipment that they’d rather we didn’t borrow.

Cue twenty minutes lost to me running around the entire campsite hunting for the person with the key to the archery cupboard.

I forgot how many targets there were. Stressed and in a hurry, I grabbed three right-handed bows, one for each target, and a left-handed one and decided not to bother grabbing a large right one for me, flew back to the range and discovered there are four targets and now the fourth one is good only for the minority of Guides who are left-eyed because I don’t have a fourth right-handed bow and therefore we can’t make four equal teams.

More problematic than that was the fact that the bows are not stored strung and there was no stringer in sight. In front of the Guides, I had to string four bows using brute force and the help of the most sensible one to slip the string over the end while I held the bows down. It’s an appalling way to treat bows but I had no other choice. I have since ordered a stringer of my own to keep in my archery bag so I’m not forced into doing that again.

The archery itself went fine. I don’t think I’ll bother with an ultra-supervised individual first arrow for every single archer next time because that took forever and we’d already lost twenty minutes of our two hours. Nearly an hour and three quarters still sounds like plenty of time but I had ten in one group and eleven in the other. When I take my Rangers, all six to eight of them, we book an hour and a half or maybe even two hours if I’ve got the full complement. Three-quarters of an hour is nowhere near enough. We had time for two or three scored sets and then five or ten minutes of a game. I’d come prepared with half a dozen games, mini prizes for good shots, paper to draw custom targets and so on and we didn’t have time for any of it.

I think the Guides enjoyed it and I think some of them hit the target who haven’t before. As for me, I’ve learnt that running an archery lesson actually isn’t as terrifying as I was expecting.

(There are no pictures, even with leaves over their faces, because these were not my Guides and I don’t have photo permission for them. Even the featured image is of me doing the practical part of the qualification last October.)