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Heswall Camp 2016 – ‘For Your Eyes Only’

With hindsight, ‘Armpit Fudge’ making was always going to end in chaos. The recipe calls for icing sugar, butter, cream cheese, vanilla and cocoa to be popped into a zip-lock bag which you then seal and shove under your armpit. The vigorous pumping of elbows then mushes all the ingredients together – what could possibly go wrong? Lots.  Mainly led by some of the naughtiest members of our volunteer helper team – but the resulting mess and smeared faces only added to the tremendous fun of Heswall Camp 2016!

Our theme this year was ‘Spies & Secret Agents’ and the campers were duly inducted into spy school, given code names and disguises before undertaking several secret missions during the week. Captain Snivel-Nose took us back in time to Bletchley Park to crack codes using cipher wheels and brainpower, then we headed into the woods to learn survival skills with Littlefoot HQ and hung out in hammocks before eating bugs round the campfire! Much more tasteful were the ‘Mocktails’ we created and the delicious food at the Spy Buffet Dinner and BBQ. (I’m told the armpit fudge was delicious too but I couldn’t bring myself to try it!).

Once again, the fantastic team at Daisy UK visited and put us through our paces, politely ignoring the obvious cheating during the wheelchair racing (again, mainly led by the helpers). Our resident expert scientist, Charlotte, taught us spy science and we made periscopes, invisible ink and learnt chromatography to help us analyse secret messages.  We were visited by Elizabeth from ‘A Tale to Tell’ who had us all spellbound with tales of ‘derring do’ and Andy Wizard confounded us with his spy themed magic show. All spiffing stuff!

We had some great days out of camp ‘Finding Dory’ at the cinema, swimming (a favourite activity for all of us), taking in the sunshine and museums at the Albert Docks and of course Chester Zoo – where we saw our only rain for the week. Friday is never complete without this standard trip and it’s great to arrive back at camp to smell our BBQ dinner already being cooked by our friends at Heswall Round Table. This year we were joined by some of the staff and pupils of Calday Grammar School who made us their fundraising project. We made posters to thank them and were happy to present them in person. Then, it was time to strut our stuff on the dance floor thanks to Nick King and his Disco complete with lights, smoke and bubble machine.

We were delighted that 2016 saw Heswall Camp return to being a mixed camp of girls and boys. Our very first camp in 1961 was mixed, but at that time the committee felt more comfortable running a single sex camp. The current team have been planning the return to a mixed camp for some while, speaking to Ofsted and our volunteer helpers to ensure we were able to provide the best possible care. 55 years later this pre-planning meant that having girls on camp was a non-event in the best sense of the words – everyone integrated seamlessly and we are thrilled that we will now be able to support a wider group of children in future. Ofsted were amazed at how camp was not for Boys and Girls, but for Children and were delighted at how seamlessly it ran.

Another achievement  was to again be awarded ‘Outstanding’ following our annual Ofsted visit to camp. Our Inspector arrived on the Thursday and, despite witnessing a Nerf gun shoot out and our ‘water event’ (and nearly getting soaked herself), gave us a very complimentary report. It was particularly gratifying that she stated that we genuinely earn this rating each year because of the level of care we provide, however we never take this for granted and are always looking for ways to improve.

So, it’s time to pack away the fancy dress box, and return to our day jobs for another year. We always find it hard to return to life after camp as we have so much fun and form great friendships during the week. We’re already thinking about next year and fundraising activities to pay for it and I am already planning next year’s activities...watch this ‘Space’!

Camp 2017 is scheduled for 12th-19th August 2017, application requests to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Until then take care – I’m off to get the last of the fudge out of my ear!

 

Sue Bough – Heswall Camp Committee Member