This weekend, Jet, Elizabeth and I went to Oxenhope in Yorkshire to attend CampEd12 – a (nearly) free learning festival that was organised by the most amazing Bill Lord, Dughall McCormick and Helen Daykin. It took place on Helen’s mum’s farm, which was a wonderful backdrop for the event.
The Activities (top five as chosen by Elizabeth)
- There were loads of activities to choose from, and on the first day we spent the time with James Langley, and his son Joseph geocaching. For those who haven’t experienced geocaching before, James and Joseph are excellent instructors. We started by throwing monster faces, moved onto jumping onto geckos, and then walking around a virtual maze. After the warm up, we were let loose to find the eight cache’s that had been set up around the farm. This is the bit that Elizabeth had been looking forward to, and she was really quick at finding the caches. We have done a bit of geocaching before, and even though Elizabeth is only five, she can walk for miles and not realise it as she moves from cache to cache! I have a feeling I will be tapped up for a Garmin soon!
- Science experiments. Elizabeth spent ages looking at feathers, wool, plants and other things under the microscopes that were set up on the second day in the barn. I have a feeling I am going to be tapped up for a microscope soon!
- On day two, we went for a moor walk (advertised as child friendly) and although it was shorter than the day before, I realised that I am unfit. Very unfit. However, it was a lovely day for a walk, and Elizabeth loved jumping in the puddles and scrambling over the rocks. We stopped at Oxenhope train station half-way around, and cooled down with an ice cream. In typical Yorkshire humor, the gentleman serving the ice cream suggested that if I wanted to cool down I could take my coat off. Everyone’s a comedian!
- We had a bit of a lie-in on Sunday and arrived a bit late, but fortuitously we walked passed Dughall running the den building session. It was really fun to create dens from natural materials – and water piping! Elizabeth ran off looking for branches, Dughall was ever supportive and full of praise. We had a great time! Just after we had taken down the den, Elizabeth and I explored a ravine, walked on a dry riverbed, and climbed a tree (one more off the 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 list!
- Football. Actually, I’ll add a bit here and say it wasn’t just the football. One of the best things about the whole event was that we could let Elizabeth go off and explore. There were so many other children around to play with, run about with, hide with, sing with, play football with that there wasn’t five minutes when she was bored. It doesn’t happen often in modern life that you can allow young children to run off and play without hovering too much – and although I did a bit of that, it was brilliant to know that she would be okay when you eventually found her!
We also did the origami and I realised how I still don’t know my left from right and we really wanted to take part in Mission Explore!, Science experiments, and the star gazing – next time perhaps?!
There were quite a few different types of people at CampEd12: Teachers, non-teachers, outgoing people, shy people crazy people (the campers) and lots of amazing children. Jet and I were so impressed at how the other children helped out Elizabeth when she needed it – included in football (especially when there’s the danger of a goal being scored against you by a five year old), helped up a hill by Joseph (who Elizabeth has a soft-spot for!). Hopefully we have said thank you individually, but if not, then thank you again. There should be some very proud parents out there!
A lot of the people that I have known for a while through twitter and the odd conference were there, and it was an honour to spend extended time together. Elizabeth got a bit shy at times, but has come away talking about how much she liked ‘that tall man with the funny beard who likes Beegu’, ‘that man who was with us building the den’ and ‘that man with the hat who was with the lovely lady’ (the first was Bill, the second Dughall and I think the third were John and Lydia)!). I really enjoyed seeing everyone in the pub on the last night, and spending time with the Allmans when we got back to the campsite – even though it took me a very long time to get the jokes! Elizabeth was very keen to show the girls where she was sleeping, and although I thought that a short book would be good, ‘Again‘ by Emily Gravett probably wasn’t the best idea as we most likely woke up half the campsite.
The best thing was that everyone who was there could say that they were at the inaugural CampEd12.