Arriving in true ‘outdoorsy’ fashion, replete with jumpers, jackets and even a jeep, we made our way through the stunning grounds of Chatsworth to where the action was at its peak (pun intended!). The Venture Abroad team and I (the Peak newbie) were warmly welcomed by a constant stream of pleasant, down-to-earth folk, proudly sporting neckerchiefs and woggles of every description. The community feel about camp was immediately apparent and just being there was enough to be welcomed in: if you’re there, you’re part of the crew! As a voluntary-led event, everyone taking part in Peak were running on dedication and passion for the cause which was, in itself, enough to set a warm and friendly tone.
The camping way of life is a grounding one, where life’s staples are good company, adventure and the great outdoors and where life’s luxuries are as modest as a strong brew and a flapjack (not forgetting toasted marshmallows, of course). Peak Camp is a place where high spirits defy sleepless nights, toasty fires prevail over soggy socks and eggy bread makes up for shower rations. Peak Campers – you were roughin’ it in style and that’s what we like to see!
Appreciation must be given to the leaders who would never begrudge a meagre five hours kip between late night chatter and early morning wake-up calls (excitable, sleep-stubborn Scouts and Guides are part of the Peak package!). Testament to the dedication of these resilient folk who, bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, were still standing (and more importantly, still smiling!). Leaders – we applaud you!
It was great to see newcomers in their abundance, as well as long-standing Peak folk who have attended consecutive events. It was lovely to be amongst such a sociable bunch of people and it was particularly warming to hear people speak with such pride of their many years served as Scout or Guide leaders. We couldn’t have been happier with the response we received from everyone there: it was great to chat to those who had travelled with us before, those who were keen to know more and those who were just interested in what we were up to!
From climbing walls to bouncy castles, we were in the midst of Peak paradise for kids. As well as a good time, Peak camp also provides the young attendees with a little taste of independence: they are given just enough to roam freely from the adults but are kept safe under the ‘umbrella’ of camp. With a nod to scouting values, the young people are also given a little responsibility, taking on roles within the organising team. It was great to see young girls and boys proudly serving tea and coffee, eagerly ushering cars into parking spaces and enthusiastically setting up for the evening’s entertainment. What a great way for them to learn a few life skills and have fun in the process!
Contrary to expectations, the rain held off all day and we were even graced with a little sunshine to balance out the brisk Derbyshire breeze. Summing up the easy-going nature of the people of Peak, the general sentiment around camp was: ‘If it’s not raining; I’m not complaining’.
The trip triggered fond memories of my own camping holidays. Reminiscing about nights spent huddled round campfires, hungrily wolfing back tepid baked beans and falling asleep to rain-patters, I suddenly recollected the earthy, organic fun of it all. Fully in the camping spirit, I would have liked to hang around a little longer for bonfire songs and s’mores – there’s always next time! Peak 2015, it’s been a pleasure!