Lots of people would think I was crazy spending my bank holiday weekend in a field with nearly 3000 kids and not a pub garden in sight. But on the last May bank holiday that’s exactly what I did. The reason for this crazy holiday (or potential endurance test?) was that I was volunteering with Imogen’s Guide group. With a huge camp like this, there is always a need for an extra pair of hands. But I actually had an amazing time. Yes, it was hard graft at times but there was plenty of laughs, time in the sunshine and lush food to keep us going. I was blown away by the sheer amount of effort from volunteers that had gone into making the weekend memorable for so many Scouts and Guides across the Northumberland region.
Pirate Marra location
The camp was located in Causey Park outside of Morpeth, Northumberland just off the A1 running from Friday evening to Monday at 3 pm. The ‘Marra’ (friend in Geordie) camps run bi-annually and past themes have included the Wild West and Circus. I had no idea what to expect at all when I drove up with Imogen and her friend Phoebe. As we were directed to the leader’s car parking spaces (ok bit of designated grass) we saw the Big Top Circus tent for the first time. But before the fun could start we first we had to get the tents up in the rain! Argh….would the typical Hooper camping weather strike again?
Tents up in a horseshoe formation, our little camp was beginning to look like home. With two guide groups and four leaders in charge of the food, we did a little bit of sorting in the mess tent. Wow, these ladies had brought and thought of everything! Mind actually is blown. When we had finished sorting there was more storage and organisation that my own kitchen at home. And the rain had stopped-yey!
Girls assembled and tents up we headed to the Big Top for the opening ceremony. Here we met the entertainment comperes who were amazing for the weekend. Cracking jokes. Getting kids to do Mexican waves and batting inflatable beach balls backward and forwards.
The opening ceremony really got the kids psyched up for a weekend of fun, and the pirate stunt show and dancers set the scene for the theme. Back at the camp, we dished up some hotdogs before the kids settled down in their tents for the night.
Saturday Activities at Camp Marra
After a hearty breakfast, the camp was officially open for the girls to explore. We headed out not long after to see for ourselves what was on the field. There were so many activities to do including archery, climbing, zorbing, survival skills, horse riding, and crafts. Another big hit was the fairground and inflatables which the girls absolutely loved. The activities stayed pretty much the same but as there was so much time over the weekend they had the chance to try them all! Everything was included in the cost of the weekend.
The café serving coffee and home-made cakes was a bit hit with the leaders. And the tuck shop went down well with the kids.
Some of our girls formed a dance troupe and auditioned for Marra’s Got Talent, making it into the top 7 acts. We all headed to the final to support them, but they were pipped at the post by a boy who sang and played guitar to a self-penned song about the loss of his dog. Not a dry eye in the house!
Saturday night concluded with a campfire down at the bottom field with some traditional songs. Due to health and safety, we were quite far away from the heavily marshaled fire to get any benefit of the heat but it was a lovely way to round off the first full day at camp.
Sunday Visit from a Brownie
Sunday saw the doors open to another 700 visiting Brownies, Beavers, and Cubs. This meant we were reunited with Abigail for the day! After a bacon butty, she headed off to explore the activities with Anna (another Brownie and leaders daughter) and the gang.
I caught them in action on the bungee and doing some crate stacking. They had a brilliant day and enjoyed a chicken dinner before leaving us to head back to Alan! She really didn’t want to go home.
The girls spent the afternoon applying UV paint to their faces for the UV party that night, but before that, we were treated to an amazing pirate themed fireworks display. Imogen really was living her best life and loved the UV party and the silent disco. I just had to have a nosy to see what it was all about and it was pretty funny watching everyone dancing to a different beat.
Packing up Camp
As we sent the girls off to enjoy their last morning of activities, we set about packing up and loading the camp. There was a lot less food than we had come with but still plenty to pack up! Luckily the sun was shining which helped. Once the kids had lunch it was time to strike down their tents too which they managed really well.
At 3pm there was an official closing ceremony to end the camp. With slideshows of photos, competition winners announced, and a performance by the kid who won the talent show with his dog song. I may quite often have a heart of stone but something about the music and photos of happy kids actually had me a little choked up. It was a time for thanks to all the amazing scouting volunteers who had spent the best part of the year planning this fantastic experience! Thanks to Penny, Rachel, Amy, Susan and Helen for inviting me along to experience my first Marra camp. I had a blast! And the girls had an amazing time too.