Why Camp Wilderness?
Well, a couple of weeks ago we arrived home from somewhere quite late – about 9.30pm. I sent Belle straight upstairs to get ready for bed. About fifteen minutes later I went up to give her a kiss goodnight and she was still standing in the middle of her bedroom, coat and shoes on, looking at Instagram.
It’s not cool really, is it? My work is online, but I do try to switch off regularly. It makes me sad that children nowadays have a stronger connection to the internet than to the natural world.
To try and combat this, and make Belle look up at the real world for more than about five seconds, we packed her off at the beginning of the summer holidays to Camp Wilderness. It was a little bit of a drive, made longer by Belle accidentally entering the postcode of their head office in High Wycombe into the sat nav, but it was totally worth it.
As soon as I picked her up I knew she had had an amazing time. When we got her home she looked bereft and I couldn’t help but feel dull – I wasn’t lighting a fire with cotton wool or gutting a rabbit, how could I possibly entertain her?
“I just want to whittle something,” she said, forlornly, sniffing wistfully at her hair, which still carried the whiff of wood smoke.
How could I argue? Sitting around a campfire surrounded by new friends and drinking hot chocolate is a pretty tough act to follow.
She liked it so much in fact, that when I chatted to her about it a few weeks later for the video below, she got quite emotional and began to cry because she missed Camp Wilderness so much. She’s already made plans with a friend to go back next summer. You don’t get much more of an endorsement than that.
It wasn’t all bonfires and snacks, though, Belle learnt an incredible amount about being in the wilderness, and has been bombarding me ever since with facts about how to safely collect water, how to set a trap, and how to whittle a peg. There’s also an advanced group, where they get really hands on catching and preparing their own food.
You can hear more about what they got up to and what Belle thought in the video below. Apologies for my voice being three times as loud as Belle’s – when I grow up I will learn to use a camera properly and balance the sound.
When I went to fetch Belle at the end of the week, I had the chance to chat to the Camp Wilderness founder, Alex McBarnet, about why he set up Camp Wilderness and why it’s so important for young people to get away from modern life and reconnect with the outdoors.
Even watching the interview with Alex at home, a month later, you could see a melancholy come over Belle, a longing to be back in the woods.
I cannot recommend Camp Wilderness enough. Belle had a fantastic time and we’ll definitely be back in 2016.
Belle was a guest at Camp Wilderness this year. All thoughts and opinions are our own.