Off to Explorer Camp, Devon – 4 August 2012


I have, at last, finished packing my bags for my Explorer Scout Unit’s (ESU) week-long camp to Barnstaple, departing Maidenhead this (Saturday) morning. Though not a million miles from home, it is a long drive – I know from the much greater distance to deep Cornwall, a favourite Burdett family holiday destination – and, due to the minibus’s capped speed limit, it’ll feel like even further.

LEAVING WITH A HEAVY HEART (AND BACKPACK): This photo was taken just before I set off this morning. (IMG_0228)

Packing for today has been more difficult than normal, due to my need to in fact pack for two camps: today’s Unit trip, and next Sunday’s biennial County trip (this year to Aragon). I’m actually leaving the Devon camp a day early and coming home on the train, in order to get all my clothes washed and my bag repacked, meeting Saturday lunchtime’s kit-drop-off deadline.


Both myself and my great friend Madi have, on-and-off, been strangely dreading this week’s camp: I guess it’s the element of uncertainty, having both never been on Dragons ESU camps before (there wasn’t one last year, due to my involvement with the World Scout Jamboree and other Unit members’ participation in Project Africa). Although I always love soaking up a place when I arrive there, I do always stress a little over the packing beforehand, especially for outdoor camps where the weather is both unpredictable and, really, unavoidable.

‘Have I got enough jumpers and coats?’ ‘Have I got enough flip-flops and shorts?’ ‘Polo-shirts, T-shirts, uniform shirt…’

Then, for me, there’s the issue of photographic and word-processing equipment, and the critical issue of keeping my devices’ lights on. For this trip, I’ve opted to take two Canon EOS batteries for my 60D, a spare battery for my GoPro HD Hero, a Li-Ion power-pack with adapters to charge my phone and iPod, and two backup stills cameras. When I arrive at the site this afternoon, I’ll search for any sign of a mains power connection (at last summer’s Jamboree, this resulted in me signing up for a Media Pass and gaining access to the Press Centre). If this is, as I expect it will be, to no avail, I’ll just be more conservative with the few precious drops of energy I do have. Failing all that, my trusty notepad and pen will have to suffice. Only when the Devonshire drizzle has become overwhelmingly heavy, making every last bit of ink on the page run, will I stop writing.

So what can I expect from the next seven days? Well, the campsite seems to have a fair selection of on-site activities, and we’ll be completing climbing, shooting, tunnelling, and orienteering together. But, being so close to the coast, we’ve also set aside time surfing lessons, rock-climbing, and other exciting sessions, plus a whole day reserved for us to hike on Exmoor.

Most of all, I’m relishing the prospect of seeing some of my best mates for a whole week, as is Madi. Yesterday, (Friday) she tweeted: "I’m going camping tomorrow and I really don’t want to go but need to desperately see @AndrewBurdett1." I replied: "I’m going on Explorer (Scout) camp tomorrow, and I’m not sure I really want to go. I need to though, as I desperately need to see @MadiKeay."

I’m not committing to a day-by-day blog like the ones I managed to file every day from Berlin. However, there may be the odd tweet, and there will certainly be a full report from our camp in the next few weeks (after I return from Aragon).

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.