“Prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to be stretched and challenged,” our leaders told us Saturday night. Those aren’t exactly words you want to hear right before you head out on a three-day camping trip.
We knew it wasn’t going to be your average camping trip; restrictions had been set on what we were allowed to bring. Deodorant, toothpaste, more then one extra set of clothes, a hairbrush and make-up were not on the list. So we were prepared at least to enjoy not only the smells of the great out doors but the natural scent of humans as well.
Sunday morning we loaded our things into two vans and settled in for the 6 hour trip through the beautiful English countryside, arriving in Princetown late afternoon. There our leaders gave us a map, directions and drove off leaving us to hike through unfamiliar territory to our camping spot. It was about five miles down a rocky pathway with sheep and horses keeping us company.
“I was a little worried whether I would make it. I wasn’t sure how far it would be but I was also excited because the countryside was pretty,” Amanda Walton, from Florida, said.
“I liked it at first, I was having fun, then I got really tired and hungry. Then I just wanted to get to the campsite,” she laughed agreeing it was a challenge but it was also a great experience.
After a cold night on the floor of a thin tent we awoke to the news we had to walk up a large hill and search amongst the rocks for our breakfast, which ended up being only part one of the meal and a good wake up exercise.
After a team building exercise and lunch we split into two groups for an afternoon of hiking across the beautiful Dartmoor. Following a map, compass and a list of locations we trekked through fields, over rocks, down through bogs and pathways, each person on the team taking a turn to lead and directed.
That night another challenge was present, but this one was unplanned.
“Our second night there I went to bed and woke up to some flashlights shining into my tent, I was not very happy. But I finally started going back to sleep and all of a sudden my pillow disappeared right from under my head!” Hannah Bordeaux said.
“I was really not happy then. I couldn’t figure it out; I thought someone was playing a trick on me. So I looked outside the tent and there was my pillow along with my jacket outside the tent. So I called for someone to bring it over, I wasn’t happy. ”
After that incident the whole tent was awake and decided to use the washroom (which was the ground away from the tents). When they got back Hannah noticed her notebook was gone.
“I was really nervous because I thought someone came into our tent. I looked out the tent again and there was my notebook lying on the ground. I laid back in bed with my crutch ready (she was on crutches from an incident earlier on in the DTS). If someone stuck their hand back in there it was going to be broken when they pulled it out.”
“So (we were) kind of creeped out. Then the tent beside us started screaming, it sounded like a fight had broken out in their tent. ”
Hannah’s tent called over to their neighbors to figure out what was going on and learned there was a fox running around in their tent.
“It dawned on me then what all had gone on so I had to repent real quick because I had a lot of anger going on,” Hanna laughed.
It turned out the fox visited several tents in the night, dragging out backpacks, eating snacks and burrowing a hole in the food tent eating all the breakfast for the next day.
After clean up the next day and a quick run to town for food we set off to Bigbury beach where we spent a few hours hanging out and enjoying the view. Then it was a 6-hour trip home.
There were some challenges, but everyone agreed it was a really amazing experiences. Not only was it fun to see new sights, but we learned important lessons about working together as a team and setting aside our own selfish agendas.
We also appreciated indoor toilets, showers and the smell of personal hygiene products more then ever before.