On Friday afternoon we joined our friends from the Ranger Ralph team for a fun afternoon making fires and cooking out in the open, in true barbecue style, with hot fruit punch, cooking bread on a stick, and toasting marshmallows over a hot fire. Bear Grylls would be proud of the intentions to instill into young folk the ability to survive out in the wilds of Devon!!
No matter how much planning is put in place there is one thing that you cannot control and that is …….The weather!
Mel and her team were determined to make the afternoon a success despite what the heavens could chuck at us and I have never felt so sorry for a bunch of keen and motivated ranger staff than I did that day.
Everyone arrived as planned (twenty-four children between the ages of five and twelve with adults attached) and everyone was very excited about what the afternoon would bring.
Mel explained the afternoons plans and divided the group into two – fire makers in the first group while the others cooked, and then half way through everyone would swap over.
No sooner had we divided up, we were in the fire makers group, than it started …….. Spit, spit, spit.
Everyone laughed as it was surely going to be a passing cloud!
“What you need to start a good fire is a lot of dry moss, and small dry kindling!!!!”
Spit, spit, spit!
So off we all went looking for dry kindling ……. Spit ………… Rain ………………. Continuous rain ………………….. Lots of rain!!!!!
But hey, we are determined folk, and one way or another we would have fire.
We learnt lots of tricks. If the kindling does not work then use cotton wool from a first aid kit – this acts as a great starter.
And where there is smoke there is fire.
Then it was swap over time and we joined the group that was bread making.
By now it was raining a lot.
What amused me here was the mixing of the flour with the milk powder and water. Getting the right amount of water in proved not so much the art of science, but of guess-work, as you had to decide how much water was actually being added by the rain before you got a chance to put the water in.
Anyway we had a go, and made the dough and wrapped it snake-like around the stick and cooked it over a prepared barbecue style fire that had been established long before we all arrived.
The bread tasted like bread (cinnamon or herb variety!) and the hot punch went down a treat, and warmed some very cold wet hands.
But the children really enjoyed it, as the activities sufficiently distracted them from the fact that they were all probably soaked through! The nice thing is that everyone participated in the real spirit of adventure – no one appeared to drop out, in spite of the cold deluge and the close proximity of the car park!
(Note to self ……………… Next time sneak in a packet of paraffin fire-lighters!!!)
Chris Porter – adult participant and bread maker extraordinaire!!