39 adventurers from the 5th Dartford Scout group traveled by rail, sea and bicycle to la Ferme Daulet, Gravelines, France for our Summer Camp. The weather was favourable for the journey and setting up of camp in a secluded walled garden, before the heavens opened for our one and only storm. Along the way, we met a lone cyclist ‘Joe’ a young Californian who was making his way round Europe, who we invited to join us for dinner and a quiet corner of the field to pitch for the night. Facilities at the site were great, with good hot showers and modern washrooms, although the unisex ideal took some getting used to. A rarity for camp, but we had power, a large fridge and strip lighting in the kitchen tent, which really helped.
The Scouts and leaders were really pleased with the fantastic new patrol tents, which were generously funded by the London Taxi Driver’s Fund For Underprivileged Children (LTFUC).
Activities included lots of cycling as this was by far the most efficient and cost effective method of transport, with most things within just a couple of miles. We spent a fair bit of time at the beach (la plage du petit-fort-philippe), which is very large and flat, with the tide going out a long way, lending itself perfectly to activities such as cricket, football, volleyball, power kiting and char à voile (sand yachts), which we took part in. Away from the beach, the Scouts enjoyed the high ropes course, a day at Le PAarc water park, boating around the fort and Dragon Boat racing. For the stronger cyclists, there was a ride out to the Eperlecques ‘Blockhaus‘ Bunker and for the rest a relaxing day trip to Oye-Plage beach.
Food was good as always, with all campers split in to daily ‘Duty Patrols’ with the responsibility of food preparation, cooking and cleaning (including toilets), which works out well and is proven to be the fairest way to share the jobs. Enjoying, the local produce, we had fresh baguettes and croissants delivered daily for breakfast and lunch and even a delicious birthday cake for Nathaniel’s 13th birthday. Ready-Steady-Cook is always a favourite with the Scouts having been given a budget of 20 euros per Duty Patrol and time to plan their meal, they were sent out to the shops to buy all the ingredients they needed, with some interesting results. Our host, Alain Letreux ‘Castor’ acted as judge and awarded points for originality, presentation and for coming in on budget, before joining the leaders table for a very civilised meal indeed.
We had the honour of being invited to a presentation and reception at the mayor’s chambers, which we all attended and everyone was given souvenir caps, lanyards and key rings, followed by a take-away meal in the town square.
Towards the end of our stay, visitors from 25 nations, some of whom were Scouts, joined a camp in the adjoining field and we had the opportunity to integrate with them and join in a song or two.
French News article here