With an Outer Space theme over 160 scouts and leaders converged onto Woodlarks Campsite in Farnham to hold their 29th Handicamp. It was a weekend full of fun and challenges for pupils from local special needs schools including Freemantles and The Park schools in Woking, Abbey school in Farnham, Kings College in Guildford and Portesbery school in Camberley.

46 Explorer scouts aged 14 to 17 yrs old from the borough camped with thirty five children with special needs aged 10 to 16yrs old who were supported by over 80 leaders, including teachers from the various schools.

Over the warm and sunny weekend the young people camped in tents and the Explorer scouts were buddied with and looked after the pupils on a one to one or two to one basis.  With the theme for the weekend centred on outer space and aliens they all took part in new and challenging activities such as climbing and abseiling, backwoods cooking over open fires and creating flying saucers made from pineapple fritters, flaming meteorites made from marshmallows and banana and strawberry slices on a stick dipped in melted chocolate otherwise known as fruit rockets. They also tried their hand at kayaking and rafting on the River Wey, air rifle shooting, and constructing model space cars from wood and racing them on a specially made launch pad. The camp was visited by Mr McDonut who entertained everyone with his magic tricks and songs. One of the other popular activities during the weekend was Junk Percussion drumming, which was led by Fabdrumming from Somerset.

The huge three face climbing and abseiling wall was constructed by Scaffolding Great Britain with HSS Southern in Old Woking supplying some of the safety fencing and lighting.

During the weekend, Woking’s Mayor Cllr Tony Branagan and his wife Mary visited the camp and experienced the thrill and enjoyment being had by everyone.

Handicamp is a very unique camp and for the majority of the pupils this was their first time away from their families. The weekend enabled the young people, leaders and teachers to integrate and learn about disabilities and conquer fear of the unknown whilst completing the challenging and fun activities in a safe environment.

Going to Woodlarks is the highlight of our school year. 8 students blasted off into space, ready to test themselves to the limits. This year, we were brave, fearless and keen to try new things. The explorer scouts were superb in looking after us and we all went home a stone heavier thanks to the wonderful cooks. This is such a great opportunity for our students to experience things that they wouldn't normally.

-The Park School-

 

Last weekend I went to Woodlarks along with another student from school and 3 staff:  Roger, Natasha and Wendy R. For those who don’t know, Woodlarks is a weekend scout camp that lets students from different schools take part in scout activities. Every student has a buddy who accompanies them (ironically my buddy hadn’t been before, so I had more experience than him!). We were in a patrol (the patrol you are in is symbolized by the colour of the cap you’re wearing), I was in the blue patrol, whilst my peer was in the red patrol.  Some of the activities included; canoeing,  climbing, outdoor cooking, craft, drumming, archery and shooting.  Evening entertainment was provided by “Mr. McDonut”, a comedic magician. We had a lot of fun, especially at the closing ceremony, where we had to throw water balloons at our patrol leader (but we also got to throw wet sponges at them for good measure.)!  All in all a great weekend!

-Freemantles student-


Handicamp was amazing once again. The pupils we took along had lots of fun and tried lots of new activities. It was lovely to see them interacting with their buddies and gave the adults the chance to take a back seat and just let them have fun. They made new friends who we are keeping in touch with and came away with some lovely memories. Thank you to everyone involved for making it so special but an especially big thanks to the kayaking team for working out the logistics of getting one of our pupils who uses a wheelchair into a kayak and onto the water. His look of enjoyment was worth all the hard work! See you all next year.

-Portesberry-

 


“It was awesome and climbing the wall helped me conquer my fear of heights”!

“I loved it and would choose to stay on in the sixth form if I could go next year"

“I had such a good time because I could take part in so many things and   can I please go next year (would be my 3rd year running!)

It is such a magical experience, once you have been you are hooked because you get so much out of it,  each year when we drive home we always all say everybody is so friendly, scouts, staff and other children and how full we all are!

-Kings College-

 


-Freemantles-

As usual we had a wonderful weekend at the annual Woodlarks camp. We would like to thank all of the wonderful scouts and their leaders for the fantastic organisation.  We appreciate all the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in order to make this event so memorable.  It is always wonderful to catch up with the regular attendees, especially those involved in running the different bases.

Our students might find it hard to express their feelings but we know they really enjoyed the whole weekend.  Spending time with their peers, being  in new environments and attempting different activities can be very daunting for people with autism but the buddies worked hard to ensure our students had a successful and enjoyable weekend.

The catering team worked tirelessly to ensure there was a constant flow of hot beverages -just what the adults needed to keep warm during the cold spells!! It is always amazing what can be produced in the outside kitchen.  The meals and snacks were, as always, a feast for the eyes and palate.

Thank you all once again.

 

From a Freemantles member of staff…..

It had been approximately 7 or 8 years since I had helped out at Woodlarks as various things had contrived to keep me away. I had the pleasure of reuniting myself with the weekend this year and wante d to write and tell you just what a pleasure it had been. It was nice to see old faces and to be recognised in return as it gave me an immediate sense of welcome. It was also nice to see the changes and tweaks that have occurred over the years that have made an amazing weekend even better. It made me realise that Freemantles definitely needs to continue with our involvement. The benefits to our students are clear for all to see and it is important to present the opportunity to as many as we can.

Thanks to all who made it such a positive experience and long may you continue to do so.

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The activity I enjoyed the most was rock climbing, shooting, archery and the best one of the all was canoeing. I made lots of new girl mates. At the end of camp we got to have a massive water fight and we got soaked from head to toe, and guess who won the fight? The blue caps won the fight! I was a blue cap!

-Abbey Student-

 


I really enjoyed being at Handicamp, I have been before and this was the best.  I loved canoeing and meeting other people.

-Abbey Student-

I loved all the activities and being outside.  The magician was so funny.  The food was brilliant!

-Abbey Student-



I enjoyed all of the activities, I played basketball and I saw Mr McDoughnut. He was funny. I ate marshmallows in the woods. It was awesome.

-Abbey Student-


 


The 29th year of Handicamp was funded by the Chobham-based Children with Special Needs Foundation and the Surrey Army Cadet Force, Woking Borough Council and also received donations from Roberts Butchers in St Johns, Tennakers Farm Shop in Chobham, & M Whitton Trust.

The total cost of running the camp is approx £8,000 – any donations for our 30th camp would be very much appreciated.  (Please contact Brian Pinto 01483 480904, brianpinto@tiscali.co.uk)