Mary’s Youth Club members braved the elements last weekend to take part in a spooky camp at Thriftwood in Brentwood, Essex. This is not the first time we have been to the Scout Campsite, but it was the first time we’ve stayed overnight and under canvas!

We got the train out on Friday afternoon, a simple journey from Highbury and Islington to Brentwood, then a 25-minute walk to the campsite. We arranged for the tents and equipment to be set up before we got there, all considered this was for the best.

After collecting wood for a fire, and having dinner (Cumberland sausage and sweet potato mash with caramelised red onion and balsamic), members played hide and seek in the woods around the site while the campfire was being prepared. There was a phenomenal amount of wind, and not just from the dinner.

The following morning we headed off to Southend Adventure Island for a day of rollercoaster thrills, candyfloss and ice cream. The rain started just as it was time to go home, so we managed to stay dry just about. The campsite, however, was now a mudbath, but this didn’t stop the group from taking part in floodlit activities and getting spooked in the ‘Haunted House’.

We enjoyed hot chocolate and cake around the campfire as the temperature dropped suddenly to low single figures. We knew we were in for a cold night. 

Brilliant sunshine greeted us the following more, still a chill in the air but warm(ish), after breakfast, we chilled out by the lake, reflected on what at times felt like an epic survival exercise. 

“I like it when we go on residential because we get to meet other people not just from Mary’s but from other groups too”

“We’re keen that young people try new things that are accessible to them,” Says Sally Baxter, Senior Youth Worker “camping is a great choice for young people”. These types of residential activities give young people a real boost.

One camper commented “I like sitting around the campfire and getting to know people better”, helping young people make good connections with others is the youth club’s main aim.

It's great that the youth club can provide these kinds of opportunities but as ever, we rely on the support of others to make it all happen.

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