Over 180 scouts and leaders converged onto Woodlarks Campsite in Farnham to hold their 32nd annual Handicamp. It was a weekend full of fun and challenges for pupils from local special needs schools including, Freemantles in Mayford, The Park schools in Woking, Abbey school in Farnham, Gosden House in Bramley and Portesbery school in Camberley.
58 Explorer scouts aged 14 to 17 yrs old from the borough camped with thirty five children with special needs aged 10 to 16yrs old who were supported by over 90 leaders, including teachers from the various schools.
The young people camped in tents and the Explorer scouts were buddied and looked after the pupils for the whole weekend. With the ‘down under’ theme for the weekend they all took part in new and challenging activities such as climbing and abseiling, backwoods cooking over open fires and cooking foods such as Dessert Yams (sweet potato with golden syrup); their version of witchety grubs (grapes covered in Victoria sponge mix) and Frankfurter tarantulas.
The main menu of the camp also included crocodile steaks.
They also tried their hand at archery, air rifle shooting, and constructing model boats from wood and sailing them on specially adapted rain gutters.
Another very popular activity was playing water football in the campsite’s heated outdoor swimming pool. One of the other popular activities during the weekend was having a go at playing didgeridoos.
The huge three face climbing and abseiling wall was constructed by PTG Scafolding with HSS Southern in Old Woking supplying some of the safety fencing and lighting.
The 32nd year of Handicamp was funded by the Chobham-based Children with Special Needs Foundation, the Surrey Army Cadet Force, also received donations from Roberts Butchers in St Johns, Tennakers Farm Shop in Chobham, Most of the food was supplied by Waitrose.
Handciamp was very fortunate this year to also receive funding from last years Mayor Derek McCrum’s year of office appeal.
During the weekend, Woking’s Mayor Cllr Graham Cundy and his wife Sarah visited the camp and experienced the thrill and enjoyment being had by everyone.
The weekend enabled everyone to integrate and learn from each other and enjoy a memorable weekend. The explorer scouts are buddied with the pupils from the local schools, on a one to one or two to one basis, and look after their buddies for the whole weekend, camping and enjoying the activities in patrols.
Handicamp is a very unique camp and for the majority of the pupils, this was their first time away from their families and the weekend enabled both the scouts and pupils to experience new challenges in a safe environment and for both the scouts and the pupils this is unknown territory, with everyone learning about each others disabilities, and conquering fears of the unknown, with some of the challenging activities.
The heavy rain on Saturday did not dampen any spirits, in fact it was the opposite, with lots of fun and laughter from all involved.