The Call of the Wild

Whilst at camp, my daughter, along with a few friends, built a den in the woods. They wove sticks into walls, tied a tarp to a tree, laid a groundsheet beneath it and built a fire. Their chosen site was a level spot midway up a sloping hill. The best way to reach it was to scramble on your hands and knees. The quickest (and most fun) way down, was to slide on your soon-to-be muddy bottom.

They had high hopes of sheltering under the stars, but the weather had other plans.

The camp organiser is a veteran Duke of Edinburgh alumna. She is also a trained leader. In her experience, the outing would have been cancelled. Rainfall and heavy winds do not make for safe expeditions.

Secretly relieved, we parents took heed of the wise woman’s words. Disappointed after all their effort, the children spent the night in the field. Determined to brave the elements, some huddled in a communal tent with a gaping hole in the front. My daughter and friend joined late-night revelling grown-ups and teens around the campfire.

The next day, there was much to-ing and fro-ing to the shelter. They gathered more sticks, shored up the wood walls, tended the fire. This was their wild home.

As luck would have it, the weather gods were on their side. It was warm and clear with no winds forecast. They padded up the hill with their floor mats and sleeping bags. Collected the necessary provisions and creature comforts. Copious bottles of water. One designated for dousing the fire should it rage.

One of the teens had a mobile phone. Another a whistle, with strict instructions to blow only in a dire emergency. Three blasts. Followed by three more. All bases covered, bar an off-chance overnight visit from the resident cowherd.

It was a fretful, restless sleep. Ear half-cocked towards the hill, listening for danger. The hours yawned on. In the dead of dark, I heard it. A call from the wild! Someone in distress! I listened to the sound more closely. It turned out to be an owl. What a hoot.

They tramped through the field the following morning. Beaming. Bedraggled. Bellies full of porridge. It felt as if they’d been gone too long, but my daughter’s hand warmer pack was still toasty.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *