If you haven't already read up about CampEd12 as you don't follow those who attended then in a nutshell it was created out of a tweeting discussion between Tim Rylands, Dughall McCormick and Bill Lord from memory. The discussion evolved around the cost issues with conferences and CPD sessions and Tim Rylands commented that one in his own Shed would be better!
As twitter is an incredible networking tool the wonderful Helen Daykin soon added her 10 pence worth to the mix and got involved to quickly volunteered her Mother's farm as a site where an outdoor conference/festival of fun could be sited.
After a teething problem surfaced, which destroyed the concept of Shedfest in name sake at least as it's a wine festival in California the concept evolved into the wonderfully clear descriptive title of CampEd12.
At this stage I started to inquire whether I could be an attendee as I saw the list of brilliantly inspiring people grow and grow into an event that I felt I couldn't miss.
I'm at a relatively early stage of my teaching career and since joining twitter I've followed many incredible people in the education World some of the most inspiring were attending CampEd12.
As a direct result of twitter I've tried to develop myself into being a person that other educators can reflect with, share ideas, read interesting and note worthy news articles. In a year I've seen my followers grow to other 1600. A decent amount that could only of happened by other reflective learners in a similar network of people joining in on conversations on #ukedchat or #geographyteacher that I throw myself into on a daily basis.
So this was my journey that took me to hearing about CampEd and signing myself up to attend.
Since returning from CampEd12 I've read many blog posts on it. A few really stick in my mind as they emphasised my situation. The great Dawn Hallybone posted one of them. Her situation is like mine. A partner who glances over to see me engrossed in my phone, iPad of Mac in a twitter conversation on something educational. Jess often gets extremely frustrated with seeing me return home from school to then start nattering on about Geography at home! this was a feeling I felt Dawn and I shared with our partners.
"Put it down" is a phrase Jess is sick of saying!
When the event drew nearer and nearer I began to feel guilty of leaving Jess at home on her own considering she has just been made redundant. So I sounded her out saying that it'd be fun and time for us to spend away from the 4 walls of home and reflect on our current circumstances.
Unlike another blog post by Nicky Allman where her family decided against camping I decided to brave the suggestion that Jess and I should camp as I thought we were homing another camper. Jess made inquiries into the local pub but financially we I convinced her camping was better for us.
Jess was less than convinced and her trepidation was well founded as 4 weeks earlier we had camped in Gloucester where we had to come home early as she became sick through the cold. The forecast for CampEd was not looking favourable temperature wise!
Anyway we decided to pack the kitchen sink and the entire spare bedroom of extra duvet and set off with the car packed to capacity!
On arrival like all of the blog posts we've read on returning home we were greeted with a number of warm hand shakes and embraces from the core organisers and set upon the 1st great mountain to climb (see other posts regarding the mountain climb to the pub) setting up camp!
Unlike the other campers who had set up their respectable and sensible tents I decided to bring my 12 berth Outwell beast that was to become known as 'Hotel Sayers' 'Mission:Explore base' or via sections as the 'East Wing'. I love my tent as it has a great communal area to relax in any weather situation.
This was to be the case for the opening day as Emma Dawson and I had brought along some of our favourite Guerilla Missions for anyone and everyone who wanted to explore.
This allowed me to catch up with the incredible modest Emma who never gives herself enough credit in my opinion with things that we're doing in school. We allowed those who came to the Mission Tent to explore on their own and left everyone to their own devices a skill many teachers really need to adopt as much as possible but that's another story that I like to have on my ever appearing soapbox!
After a sneaky trip up to the pub to catch the final score of the FA Cup Final I sampled a glorious ale named 'April Showers' unfortunately for me and a number of others it soon ran dry:( Mind this didn't spell disaster as many great conversations were stoked up including with the incredibly approachable Bryn Llewellyn, Chris and Catherine.
In the evening we were treated to an outstanding BBQ courtesy of the great pub owner! The sausages were nicely spiced and the burgers yummy. Plus the spicy chilli was right down my street:)
This was followed by a great musical treat from Dan Bowen, Kevin Mc Laughlin plus special children guest appearances and the incredible BEV Evans ! WOW SUCH TALENT was on show! Plus Jamie who was the best egg shaker I've ever seen!
This was where Jess and I were pretty nervous as I've only known people through twitter so I socially felt pretty scared to sit and natter so we simply took a step back and observed laughter a plenty and made our way to bed to gaze at the Super Moon before the freezing cold kicked in!
Luckily Jess came prepared with 2 hot water bottles, 2 sleeping bags each and our thick duck feathered duvet! We'd need it! The morning followed plenty of body shuddering from the cold. It was a little earlier than welcomed due to the cockerels and the infamous cuckoo or was that owl Tony Parkin kept telling us all about:)
Day 2 was more relaxed Jess and I needed some thinking time for our penny counting future and opted for the great activity of Geocaching and a walk.
I love Geocaching and my 320 total in 1 country was well and truly eclipsed by the brilliant Lord James Langley with his 400 + from 7 countries soon to be 8:) I've done plenty of Geocaching in my time and thought of different ways to use them from mission explore cache boxes, to panoramic photo reference boxes to historical changes to an area to visual changes to seasonal changes in a QR code instruction in the geocache, to a game based traceable competition.
But I had never done Geocaching with the GPS devices the Lord had brought.
Instantly I was in my silly element! With squashing imaginary Geckos and other games. This was a fab ice breaker game that got to all at ease with people we didn't know.
On the Geocaching main challenge my group got talking about the pedagogical worth and value of Geocaching and quickly kept coming back to the outdoor quality it brings but came up with some strategies to make the searching time into thinking time or activity in itself time. We loved the dimensions, distance, direction and orientation aspect to build EAL issues and the QR code uses seen earlier but more importantly the fun aspect. We each discussed how at finding each cache of various different challenges that could be set and these could be collaborative to level based / solo based activities to each group getting an element to a mega task then collaborating centrally after each group has found their geocache-challenge-code to be solved.
We all love Geocaching and at this stage Jess and I wanted to explore the countryside. The walk was lovely and the guide was very informative and certainly loved her area. Something I think we should all take note of and explore our local area to relate to it more than most of us do ME included!
On this walk I got to chat to Dawn Hallybone and her husband for the 1st time. We had a lovely chat about travels and possible future options something that is at the forefront of both Jess and my mind! I loved the walk as it recharged my batteries that were getting wary of the amount of tea I was drinking to stay warm.
On returning to the Campsite I slumped into a chair to gaze at the awe inspiring Kevin Mc Laughlin and his 3D snow flake creation time. How is it created again Kevin? He showed great persistence that many teachers ooze when needing to finish a job/task. At that time a huge aspect of the Camp was beginning to surface again. My mind had drifted but now I was beginning to regain a mind focus it became clear that children were a central core to this festival of fun and rightfully so! Not once all weekend did I see ANY children whine about being bored or wanting to go home!
Perhaps like Matthew Pearson suggests this was because we were all a middle class well brought up mini community with engaging parents offering different stigmatic activities for the children. I agree with Matthew on this front that this sort of festival/camp is ideal to opening the eyes to those less fortunate who don't get much more beyond the end of their street let alone another county or country!
I'd be more than willing to run a competition/secret invitational criteria for next year to bring 1 boy and 1 girl from my school who fitted this bill for them to experience this wonderful event!? Thoughts????
After Kevin finally relieved himself from Snow flake duty I settled down to chat with Susan Banister, Dughall McCormick, Jamie and Dawn Hallybone. We had a lovely chat that ranged from some of the best ad hoc planning I've done in ages to a comparison of scars. Again another aspect that I'm taking back to form time to allow students to come up with a starting discussion point and see what we have in common on a specific theme.
The event drew to a close for me in the final Sunday dinner meal and drinking session. My sunburn was firmly setting in by then and so I enjoyed sitting back and chatting to those mentioned and the very approachable Tony Parking and Alex Bellars.
I had such a wonderful time as did Jess. She is happy for me to keep tweeting to open up other windows of networking opportunities like CampEd12 for a friendship event as much as an educating opportunity.
So what will I take from CampEd?
Well I've asked my SLT if I can set up my tent in the school grounds for a Learning Pod.
My form have begun a life experience book using the CBB app.
I'm planning a new transition series of events for next years year 7 using events from CampEd12 mostly the mission:explore, geocaching, den building linked events.
Overall I had a wonderful time and didn't get opportunity to speak to many who I wanted including Jo Badge about GTAUK and Graeme Eyre about Geography education or many other people who I follow on twitter like Chris Ratcliffe.
Roll on CampEd13! A camp that I hear now is a strong possibility of happening!