1st Bodicote Guides Survival Camp – Jubilee House

GG0-14A222nd May 2017

The first time it had been forecast to rain in weeks and we had planned our survival camp for this weekend.

Rebecca had requested a camp to learn some survival skills so we came up with a plan based around The Survival badge, I will Survive Go for It and Jubilee House challenge badge.

With the help of a guide’s dad, we learnt the importance of the correct clothing / bedding and what to pack. He also ran an important session on predicting our British weather. In preparation for the hike, part of our adventure, we spent time learning a little more about maps, particularly what the all the different symbols stood for and how to plot a grid reference.

On Saturday 13th May 2017 ten of us (8 guides and Big B and Little B) met at Jubilee House (Girlguiding Oxfordshire’s guide house and camp site) at 10am.

There were a number of challenges to complete:20170513_214715_resized

  1. Set up water collecting devices
  2. Plot our hike from 6 figure grid references given.
  3. Kit check
  4. Predict weather
  5. Hike – identify edible and non edible plants.
  6. Find a way of finding north without using a compass
  7. Filter water
  8. Complete the assault course carrying a raw egg
  9. Prepare dinner – Gut a whole fish, wrap food parcels so you can handle when on open fire, discuss how to safely store and prepare food at camp
  10. Prepare Breakfast
  11. Build shelters to sleep in
  12. Collect wood, make a wood pile and light a fire
  13. Construct a fish cooking utensil
  14. Cook a two course meal without using utensils
  15. Review around Campfire – What have you done today you have never done before.
  16. Make waterproof bedding roll – some bedding too wet so this challenge was completed at guides the following week.

20170513_143916_resizedAfter all the preparation, the route was plotted within half an hour, our rucs sacs were checked to ensure we were carrying what we needed and not extra (this would mean carry extra weight) and we set off on our hike at 11.15am. We tried to put our weather predicating skills to the test- complete white cloud cover but dry, a light wind blowing.

Lisa was keen to understand how to read a map and became an early leader in this skill saying, ‘well it is only a flat picture of what is around you’ (think that may have been heard during our preparation).

We passed through fields with cows and calves, saw a herd of deer, heard and met pheasants and identified trees and flowers on the way and we only took a wrong stile once. Martha was very clear this was only because ‘they were trying to leave the cows and their calves in peace quickly’. Big B soon put us back on track, our map reading skills really were improving every step of the way and we did not go wrong again. Maybe because Big B and Little B kept making us stop and check the map.

Big B was the first to trip over a hidden tree root, but she was ok, Sophie tripped over a tree root and managed to graze her knee. First aid discussed, first aid kit located and first aid administered by Big B. This led to much excitement and a supervised opportunity for Rebecca to use her survival bracelet flint and fire lighting ‘punk’ to attempt to burn used resources. Unfortunately, even though rebecca could produce a good spark and we did get some smoke we were not successful, so rubbish bagged and brought back to camp for disposal.

The edge of a small stream where there were trees with moss growing on their trunks provided a great opportunity to prove that moss grows on the north side theory, we checked using our compass. Seems the theory is correct although where trees were in the shade of others not such a defined line occurred.

We had our picnic lunch in a wildflower meadow near Beckley Park, under patchy white clouds and blue skies. A weather check was undertaken; more cloud beginning to build, more humid than when we set off. Definitely re-energised; gymnastic display taking place in the meadow, we set off again.

At 14.35 legs getting tired predictions were as too how far we still had to go. The predictions were:

Rachel, Rebecca 8km Emily thought 8.5km for the complete walk (actual hike route was 9.6km)

How long to go ….? Rebecca, Tilly thought 2km, Rachel, Lisa and Hayley all thought 2.5km, Emily a very precise 2.25km and Martha and Sophie predicted 2 and a bit km to go.

At 15.00 as we walk through a field of very long grass approaching Stanton St.John village and park, Martha and Rebecca belly flopped in the long grass. After shouting “I don’t like walking” they see the village park and Martha says “Can we go to the Park?” Little B replies “I thought you were tired!” Laughter could be heard across the field as everyone walked up the hill to the park (more cows but no calves).

15:30 back at Jubilee House for a well-deserved afternoon tea.

It had been quite an educational few hours including learning a little more about wild flowers and trees. These are some of the ones we identified: Cowslip, Dandelion, Silver Leaf, Vetch, Marsh grass, grass seeds, Hawthorn (bread and cheese, tried by all but found to be bitter ), ragged robin, cow parsley( keck), bluebell, Horse chestnut, Sycamore, Ash, Elder, Beech, Cherry , wild apple and Oak. There was one blue flower we could not identify, it might be Selfheal but will try to clarify during our Herbal plant workshop later in the term.20170514_095633_resized

Back to the challenges we set up water stills on the trees to see if we could collect any fresh water and filtration devices to clean some of the dirty water we had collected. We used sand and gravel to make our filters. Water is very important if you are surviving in the wild. Although Sophie was heard to say, ‘but we can use the tap.’ The next morning we were disappointed in how little water we had collected, however the water filtration devices seemed to have worked well and we had fairly clear water, although we did decide to we stick to standpipe water for morning hot drinks.


We had a bit of fun working in teams to complete the assault course with a fresh egg as a very important member of the team, as the eggs needed to successfully complete the assault course intact as they were required for cooking later. One egg became known as Eggbert. Both teams completed and both eggs returned complete. Sophie said she found the wall hard but support and encouragement from the team helped her to complete this element.


Wood was collected, wood piles built and rebuilt when they did not pass inspection by Big B, a fire was built and successfully lit by Rebecca.

Everyone rose to the challenge of gutting and preparing the fish for supper, quotes heard included ‘ooh it smells, this feels slimy, and this is not as bad as I thought it would be’. Everyone tried at least one of the three types of fish once cooked.20170513_172510_resized

In fact, we had four courses, soup cooked in the tin with dampers, followed by fish, meat patties with stuffed peppers or tomatoes, all finished off with ice cream cone smores. Little B was very proud of us all as there was not much waste.


After a dry start to our night all of us (Guides) were in our beds; under the shelters we had constructed by 22:30 and quiet. According to Big B and Little B this is unusual.

05:20 Martha and Sophie woke up soaking wet. Big B was quick to respond climbing out of her survival bag in the pouring rain, they (Big B and Little B) did not have a shelter. Martha and Sophie were quickly moved to the one completely dry, sheltered spot, her car, but only after they had changed out of their wet clothes and into lots of dry layers (the best way to keep warm). It had been pouring with rain for some time, very heavy at times. Rachel snuggled deep inside her survival bag was heard to murmur ‘I am fine that is why I am sleeping in an orange bag!’ Rachel is known to not particularly like using a survival bag. Big B spent the last few hours sitting dozing in a deck chair, her sleep mat and survival bag now very wet.20170514_082145_resized

It did stop raining and the sun came up, we spread wet and damp bedding and clothing out to begin the drying out process. Breakfast of hot drinks camp crunchies and weetiballs prepared the night before.


Everyone did something they had not done outside before. Lisa had not walked 9.6 km or read a map, none of us had carried an egg around the assault course, gutting fish was new to most of us and none of us had slept outside in the rain before.

We all learnt about and now understand a little more about the importance of planning in advance, listening carefully to instructions and working together makes things easier.

Thank you to Big B and Little B for a great weekend.


Our Trip Advisor Review for Jubilee House

A lovely leafy location on the outskirts of Oxford. You can stay in doors in the house, camp in the grounds or if really brave sleep out and hope it does not rain. There are some short walks in the surrounding country side or you can stay onsite and try the assault course, geocaching, build a camp fire or try out the abseiling tower. We had lots of fun backs wood cooking and making our own fun.


Rebecca, Rachel, Tilly, Martha, Emily, Sophie, Hayley and Lisa

1st Bodicote Guides.

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