DofE 11 North Downs.

12°C, rain and strong Westerly gusts.

Another late one: I have two likable groups to manage and assess. The tricky part is the way their routes diverge south of the hills. If all goes well, there would be a bit of zig-zagging in the car and care needed with timing. One group of 5 is all girls and the other, all lads.

Group 5 (the girls) phoned at least 6 times this day. Their location and direction finding skills were non-existant. Thus:

5: “we’re lost”
M: describe what you see around you? … A farm name, a finger post or something we can find on the map.
5: there is a sign,
M: Great, go and read it!
5: “Skid Risk”

I know the place well, it’s near Loose Chippings!

Afternoon, a hailstorm brewed up. It hit us at a checkpoint and they were caught out. I threw my raincoat over one while she struggled to get hers out of her backpack. Really, it’s not a good idea to pack it under loads of other stuff. The roads were turned into rivers as it poured. I drive round the other side of their track to meet again, they need close supervision and they didn’t appear. How could they go wrong now?! I put the car in the carpark just outside camp and the phone rang again.

Once more they couldn’t locate themselves. Finally they found a named house but that information raised an alarm. They must have passed the carpark and turned away from camp to the west. On foot, expecting to see the group in the village I now hotfooted over another kilometer to find them. Relief! I’m not letting go now until they’re in the field.

Problem now is, light is fading and they are vulnerable on a fast road with no footpaths. So, I plotted a cross country route which formed a loop away then back across safe paths. On we walked. It was a beautiful evening with a golden light filtering through emerald vegetation. Distant peacocks called over the sound of the girls sobbing as we walked.

Day two: a bright start with low fog and promise of dry weather. With the girls’ group merged, I only had the lads to work with today. They’re the best group of boys I’ve worked with. An exemplary team who did everything spot on today. Excellent.

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