1st Wargrave Scout Group

Scouts Survive Dorneywood Autumn Camp!

In mid-October, 14 scouts and 3 leaders enjoyed a superb “Autumn Survival Camp” at Dorneywood Scout Camp, in Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire.

We arrived at 2pm on the Saturday for a 24 hour camp, with a focus on traditional cooking and learning bush-craft.  Like all of our camps, it was all about connecting with the outdoors, learning some new skills and having fun!

The weather was very kind and surprisingly mild, and in the afternoon each patrol constructed a low level shelter in the woods using ropes and groundsheets, camouflaged with natural materials.  These would be the bivouacs that some of the boys would then sleep in that night. We also pitched our hike tents, and a mess tent.

Supper was cooked on a big camp fire ‘backwards’ style, using foil.  The boys enjoyed sausages wrapped in bacon with onions, jacket potatoes and beans washed down with squash.  Apples stuffed with sugar and raisins followed for dessert. We then told stories, made jokes, and sang our favourite campfire songs including ‘On Top of Spaghetti’!

We were fortunate to have most of the campsite to ourselves that weekend, and we made use of the big field to play searchlight wide games – before enjoying mugs of hot chocolate, cake, biscuits and then bed.  Eight scouts choose to sleep in the bivvis, wearing pyjamas, t-shirts, fleeces and coats inside sleeping bags tucked into their emergency orange survival bags.

That evening it rained really hard from midnight to 7am, however the boys in the shelters survived, staying warm, dry and importantly sleeping through the night!


In the morning the boys made and then cooked pancakes for breakfast (another Scout camp tradition!), and swapped stories about how they had survived not only the rain – but also how they had battled with the large number of red fire ants that were living in the forest…


On Sunday we split into 3 groups, and rotated between activities.  One team prepared lunch, one group learnt about dirty/clean water and water filtration techniques (onsite there was a large pond from the rain), and the other group took part in JOTA (Jamboree On The Air).

JOTA is the largest Scouting event in the world with nearly 1 million Scouts participating across 160+ countries each year during the third weekend of October.  For the first time, 1st Wargrave Scout Group took part using a special call-sign that we had been granted by OFCOM ‘GB6WSG – GOLF BRAVO SIX WHISKY SIERRA GOLF’ the WSG standing for Wargrave Scout Group.  All of the scouts took part, learning about Amateur Radio, using Walkie-Talkies and practicing Morse Code.  A number of the scouts exchanged greetings on the 40M 7MHz Shortwave HF band with other scouts and guides across the UK, Holland and Germany.  The boys discussed what they enjoyed most about Scouting, their hobbies and interests and what we had been doing on camp that weekend. Everyone agreed it was an interesting activity, and we hope to take part in JOTA again next year either as a camp activity, or from the hut.


After lunch – which consisted of leek and potato soup, french onion soup, pasta and cheese – we took down the shelters, our tents and said goodbye to Dorneywood.  We had discovered another great place to camp not far from Wargrave.

The boys all agreed that they had had a very interesting weekend, learning new skills and trying out different activities.  Some of the tasks the boys completed will count towards the Survival Skills Activity, Communicator Activity, Outdoor Challenge and Adventure Challenge Badges.

2014 has been a truly great year for camping at Wargrave Scouts: We have camped inside the hut, the Family Camp at PACCARS, Paddicks Patch, a week at WINGS2014 International Jamboree and then finally Dorneywood – 12 nights in total.  In 2015 we hope to offer even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors!