Thursday 28th July

Rise and shine for the early morning train…. Too early for some. Hit Connelly station for 8pm. All the gear was moved up to the baggage compartment in the train and we were all set to go. After 2 and a half hours we hit Boyle. The brave Daire and Shane decided they wanted to get the shopping organised and walk to the campsite, a mere 6km walk which should take about an hour. The rest of us mere mortals got a minibus with the gear and tents, so we arrived at the campsite 15 minutes later.

The sun was splitting the heavens as the campsite was set up. The layout was unique and Ollie was very upset, he may even had shed a few quiet, discrete tears. After the tents were up it was time for the most popular game in the world to be played….. Frisbee… This had to be the most popular game over camp as Philip murdered the football. Soon enough the two lads and Ollie returned with stories of their epic journey, their numerous stops and the offer of a lift off a friendly stranger.

We were the only people in the campsite, for the first night anyway. In good old traditional stile (well 90th tradition) we had the ever so lovely chicken, spuds and veg all shoved in tinfoil and cooked on the fire for a half hour. Matthew decided to take up the role of fireman and for the whole camp he was busy making sure we had enough wood for the fire, we would never be cold and would always be able to cook our food.

The art of Frisbee is quite intricate. One must prove themselves worthy before engaging in this activity. One must throw the Frisbee in order to catch the wind in such a way so that it glides towards the other person. The other person must then extend their arms and catch this flying disk in their hands. Sounds easy but as I said it is quite intricate. Connor became a master at Frisbee and managed to clock up over 14 hours of consecutive play, even more impressive then his guitar playing.

After a lunch of sambos we made what was going to be one of many trips down to Lough Key. The playground suitable for under 10’s was also suitable for scouts. After wandering around the forest park and through the tunnels we made our way back to the campsite.

As the evening fell upon us it was dark enough to play ’on the beach’. This games tests the speed, guile and subtlety of its players. Basically one person is on and eliminates people form the game by shining a torch on them and naming them. To win a person must get past the person who is on. Long grass proved to be an effective cover in this game.

That night saw what laid ahead of us. As most of us tried to get to sleep we could here the familiar sound of rain hitting the tent……..

Friday 29th July

It wouldn’t be a camp unless it rained at least once. The tents exaggerate the rain so it was not as bad as it sounded. It was enough however to leak into Kevin, Arthur and Aidan’s tent. This was quite surprising as the tent was a whopping €25. The rain also caused a little river to flow through the Icelandic tent (our stores). Not to worry, sure these sort of things are to be expected. Kevin, Arthur and Aidan transferred their gear to the other lads tent and all was well!

After the wonderful breakfast of rice crispies and choco krunchies everyone (except Derek) headed down to Lough Key in order for a swim. The lake is cold but refreshing and as always the established method of getting into a lake is to walk out until the water is up to your waist and then get it all over with and dive in….. The budding fisherman managed to catch a really big (4 inches maybe!!) fish. Unfortunately it was not enough to feed the troop.

The shop was kept in business over the weekend by us. The shop sold all the essentials… tea coffee, chocolate, stinger bars and the like…

On arrival back on site, we saw that the campsite was not to ourselves anymore. Cubs from Enniskillen had arrived and later that day 191st Dublin Deaf scout group arrived and camped opposite us. That afternoon saw more Frisbee, however we had a visit from Jacqui and Linda who were passing through while on their road trip. It was also time for a table to be built… It was decided that a large table was needed for all 13 of us, so after two tripods were constructed, another A-frame was made and the table took shape. It turned out that the table was big enough for all 13 people without needing the other tripod so a makeshift washing line was made….

Saturday 30th July

Cloudy skies but no rain greeted us on Saturday morning. After breakfast we headed down to the lake and get in for a swim. Not everybody mind you…. They didn’t know what they were missing out on. The fresh cold water wakes you up before the days activities.

We headed back up to the site. We decided we would go on a small hike and search for the mysterious hidden castle. We gather our gear and we march off on the secret historical trail, as we enter the forest track we realise that the castle was indeed hidden and was going to be an effort to find it. We searched high and low and after some time we stumbled upon it.

Of course this was the end of the difficulty. The gates of the castle had been sealed off leaving a gap of about half a foot. This width could not possibly allow the more chunky members of the troop pass through, however Arthur, Aidan, Mathew and Emma were able to fit through. They had access…. The rest of us had to think of another way in…. As luck would have some thoughtful beaver, fox or person had put a plank against the wall allowing people to climb up and go through the window. The rest of us slowly manoeuvred through the window and entered the castle where we could climb to the top and look out over Boyle.

The exit of the castle was a little more difficult as the window as the plank was more slippy and the window was narrowing outwards. We all managed to get out however thanks to a very helpful knight in shining armour…. Shane. We make our way back to the campsite and have dinner… Chicken supreme and rice. After dinner and there was, you guessed it, more Frisbee. Our Frisbee had been temporarily taken so we were using the cubs Frisbee that we had temporarily taken.

Sunday 31st July

Arise and shine again this morning and after breakfast we head down to the lake for another invigorating swim. It woke the body and mind and counted as a shower…. Today we were to go on the monstrous trek to Boyle.

We saddle up and head out… Daire and Shane lead the way as they were experts and had been there before. We trekked over road, grassy verges, sloping bridges and swamp land to arrive in Boyle just over an hour later. We congregated at King house, which is a gallery and museum. We then all go our separate ways and arrange to meet back at 6. Was Boyle ready for this invasion of scouts. As the leaders get lunch in one pub the scouts get kicked out of another pub for breaking stuff.

Shopping was done and was taken back in a taxi. Aifric, Daire and Shane took on this mammoth responsibility of transporting the food back to the campsite. So as the three stooges head off into the sunset the rest of us mere scum start our long and arduous trek back. Connor, who has been years in scouts, decided to undertake the whole walk in sandals. As the pain started to settle in on the walk home, Connor decides to walk barefoot before inventing a little splint out of sweets, which kept is foot stable (relatively)… ingenious.

We arrive back at the campsite and set up for dinner. Sweet and sour or curry chicken with noodles were on the menu. After dinner the stage was set for the time honoured tradition of ‘pile on’. Aifric told all that she was a diva on the rugby circuit much to the amusement of the lads. So they tackled her and piled on, this led to numerous ‘pile ons’. This was thankfully followed by the more traditional sing song by the fire. Connor, our resident musician, took the stage and we were singing songs such as ‘By the way’, ‘One’, etc.. as well as everyone’s favourite ‘Is This The Way to Amarillo’ and ‘N17’ from the ould Saw Doctors.

After the singsong it was bedtime………

Monday 1st August

Arise and shine and after breakfast we did the usual and headed down to the lake for a swim. This time everyone got in…. After the initial shock of the cold water it gets quite pleasant. After a few races, which Kevin won, we head back and get changed. Ollie wanders around to talk to the guy we had to hire the boats from.

We head back to campsite to have lunch. The sun was splitting the heavens, typical for our last official day on site. We then dropped the site except the Icelandic in the middle. All the gear was placed in the Icelandic and we headed down to the lake again around 6 with all the gear we needed for the island that night. This was quite an effort to bring down all the gear, we had 3 of the metal boxes, the cooler box as well as all our personal gear for the evening.

We arrived at the lake and had to wait about half an hour for the row boats. We all bailed into three of them. In boat number one was Aifric, Daire, Shane and Michelle. In boat number 2 was Derek, Connor, Philip and Matthew. In boat number 3 was Ollie, Emma, Kevin, Aidan and Arthur. It took a while to get used to the rowing and there were a fair few boats going around in circles. We all headed out to the first island, Castle island which, as the name suggests, contains a castle… This did not occupy much time after all we had seen a castle a couple of days ago, so we move on to our island. Boat number 1 went around the island (just to make sure it was one), Boat number 2 sauntered over as boat 3 was unwilling to tow us. Boat number 3 rowed around for a long while before joining us on the island. As Emma was getting out of her boat she threw her phone in the lake, why? No one knows.

The island had plenty of dead wood for burning and a fair few bivvy sites from previous groups. We lit two fires for the two patrols. Michelle and Emma stayed by the fire to cook for the men in their patrols, who bravely went out to build shelter. Emma’s patrol even built her a separate room….

Dinner was burgers and potatoes. After dinner we all gather by the larger fire for a sing song. The lads left out their lines for the night in the lake in the hope of catching some fishies. After a few songs we head out to the edge of the island to look at the sky. As luck would have it the only clear night we had over the camp was this last night and we were on an island full of trees which blocked the starlight.

It turned out that Michelle, Kevin, Mathew, Shane and Arthur were not happy with their bivvy site, to many little crawling insects, so they moved to a previously made shelter.

Daire, Connor, Aidan, Philip and Emma were very happy with their site. The leaders, who were too lazy to build any shelter just slept all night beside the fire.

Tuesday 2nd August

We awake to another cloudy day but at least it wasn’t raining. We cooked up a fry for the last morning on camp and, I tell you, it went down very well…. We pack up our stuff and the lads check their line to find that they had not been lucky… Ollie takes all the gear back in the boat with the motor, the rest of us mortals had to row back. Ollie comes back to collect Daire and Shane and they choose to row back singing ‘row, row, row your boat’.

We leave our gear by the harbour and walk back up to our campsite, where we still have our solitary Icelandic. After we finish the sweets go down to the shop and back we drop the Icelandic and pack up the remaining gear just in time for the minibus. We pick up our gear from the harbour and head to Boyle for the train.

Our initial shock on reaching the train station was that work was being done on the track about 20 minutes before the train was due to arrive, however we were assured that the train was running and would be on time.

The train was indeed on time and we got all the gear up in the luggage compartment and boarded the train. As the train started to move away we could all sit down and relax and allow the glorious scouty ‘I haven’t washed for a week’ smell to diffuse all around the carriage. As some cards were found we could play the game of pig which hasn’t got a winner… oh no, just a loser, and the loser of this game was Shane and he suffered because of it but not for long as a very nice leader reminded him what his safety card was….

The train arrived back in Dublin at around half four and we dragged all the gear down to the main entrance of the platforms. We waited a while for all the gear to be collected and everyone headed off home for a proper shower and some rest. That is all except Daire who waited patiently for the half 6 train to Wexford…. All in all a good camp was had by all and we intend to go back to that island and spend more time there……..