Well Avalon Camps 2018 has come to an end. The sun shone and the rain came but in the spirit of Avalon Camps we dealt with it in our own inimitable way.
It was hugely disappointing that we had to close Camp 2 early due to the bout of sickness. In my memory it is the first time this has happened and we will learn from the experience. What caused the sickness is difficult to determine, but we are convinced it was not the food they ate as there was no connection between those who were sick and those who were not sick with what they had eaten.
There were complaints that the chlorine in the pool was very strong, we had to flush out one or two people’s eyes due to irritation and some children had skin rashes. Coincidentally, the first Tent Leader fell ill immediately after returning from the swimming pool.
It could possibly have been a bug that was brought into camp, but the mystery here was the speed at which it affected people. Fortunately, the ten children who were ill were feeling much better the next day, although it took the Tent Leaders a little longer to recover.
A special thanks must go to Kath Hanlon who was our Florence Nightingale. She was up most of the night looking after the children, along with three Tent Leaders who had not slept at all. A special mention for Luke Blewett who only recently joined our volunteers ranks. He turned up for sandwich duty, to find we had a ‘little problem’ and was a real strength in organising our morning helpers to clean up and decontaminate areas of the camp.
Also, we must mention the children who were little stars, not once did they complain about being ill, no tears, they were fantastic.
You may ask what happens on camp?
Well apart from the logistics of erecting 20 camping tents, a marquee and food storage tent, installing all of the cooking equipment, fridges, freezers, serving tables, dining tables and the kitchen sink, there are also the camp beds, sleeping bags and pillows. All this is done by a band of trustee volunteers who are now known as our very own ‘A Team’.
The Young Leaders arrive on Sunday afternoon and after a brief introduction, they have three training sessions. The first is our own Induction Programme during which we explain all that is expected of them to prepare for the challenge of looking after 32 children for a week, then we cover Safeguarding which is presented by an outside organisation, and for the first time this year we had a session on Behaviour Management also delivered by an outside organisation.
What do the children get up to during their week’s holiday?
After we collect them from their Bristol schools, they have lunch followed by a long walk up Crooks Peak, which we always hope will tire them out so they will get to sleep early (never really works!!!). Then it’s back to camp for some games before they have their supper, more games, followed by a bed time story and then we settle them down for their first night under canvas.
Up bright and early on Tuesday!!!! Then its time for the cooked breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, beans, toast and jam, then they have cereals, we call it a Somerset breakfast, which they have every morning and love it.
Then we load up the coach with a picnic lunch, water drinks, sun cream and sun hats. And off to Lower Stock Farm Wrington for a farm visit, where the children see farm animals, go pond dipping, make dens in the woods, eat marshmallows around a camp fire and have their picnic. And this year they had a surprise, when Liz our guide bought out her pet Barn Owl, which amazed the children, especially when the owl coughed up a pellet!! Back on the coach for the ride back to camp in time for some organised games, and a lovely two course dinner.
This year Stephen Moss came to camp and set up his moth trap on Tuesday evening. Stephen returned to camp early on Wednesday morning to reveal to the children an array of moths, you would be amazed at the number and variety of moths that were caught. The children were encouraged to let some of the moths settle on their fingers and some of the larger moths would stay on the children’s hands. Thank you, Stephen, for coming along to both camps, it was an enjoyable learning experience.
After breakfast the children took part in an Orienteering Exercise organised by our own Carol Iddles, ably supported by her husband John. Carol & John had set out a number of courses for the children to tackle and it was fascinating to see them running around the field with an electronic dibber to dab the control points on the various routes they followed. Many thanks to Carol & John for giving up their time and for doing two Night Security stints as well.
After a picnic lunch, the children went off to Cheddar Pool for some fun time in the pool and a chance for the children to have a good shower!!!! Back to camp for more fun games and a BBQ and Pizza Night courtesy of Craig D’Ovidio, Will Clarke & Co, they have now got it off to a fine art and had two pizza ovens on the go. Well done to you all it is much appreciated.
Thursday is the highlight of the week, when the children go to Crealy Park. Although for a change this year Camp 1 went to the West Somerset Railway for a train ride to Williton, the first time the children had been on a steam train. Another first was a visit to Tropiquaria at Watchet. We think the highlight of this visit was letting the children hold a large snake, and Freddie one of the Tent Leaders who admitted to being terrified of snakes plucked up courage and held one as well, for which the children gave him a big cheer.
Friday was another first for the camps, after breakfast it was off to Wookey Hole. The children had a great time and really enjoyed going down the caves. In the afternoon there were more on-camp games and groups of children were rehearsing for there Saturday concert. Then they had a lovely dinner of meat balls and pasta in tomato sauce. This was followed by a surprise visit of an Ice Cream van with chimes ringing out as it passed down the side of the marquee. The look on the children faces was an absolute picture, and they could have what ever they liked, flakes, sprinkles and juice.
Saturday is a day spent at camp with the highlight being a great ‘Sunday Roast Dinner’ with all the trimmings. Then it is off to the Church Hall for the Camp Concert and this year it was one of the best. Then sadly we have to say good bye to the children and take them back to Bristol.
Finally, we must not forget Jonswood Farm Eggs for supplying all of the eggs for our scrambled egg breakfast. Amesbury & Puddy for always being there to help, their patented replacement water boiler tap was perfect. Yeo Valley & Wyke Farms for supplying our dairy products, Highbridge Caravans for loaning us a caravan for Night Security and Holt JCB who very kindly donated the cost of hiring the marquee.
A special mention should also be given to Campbell (Southwest) Ltd. who were very generous in converting one of the bedrooms in our new caravan into twin showers. Prolec Contracting Ltd who did the electrical work and Quadrant Contract Flooring Ltd who supplied and fitted the new floor covering. The work was more complex than at first thought, the Camp Leaders really appreciated the nice hot showers as did the children that needed a shower.
None of this would be possible without the army of volunteers that give up time their freely for Avalon Camps. Without all your help Avalon Camps would not be the special holiday home it is for our disadvantaged children. They love coming to stay with us and there are lots of tears when they have to say goodbye. These children are amongst the least fortunate in life, and through no fault of their own have very often been dealt a pretty raw deal. The dedication and hard work that you all do really matters, you help to give them a holiday for just one week but the difference it makes lasts a lifetime, as will the memories they make on Avalon Camps. You should all feel rightly proud of what you have achieved.
Many thanks again for all your support, whatever your contribution, we couldn’t do it without you.
Avalon Camps - Committee firstname.lastname@example.org