Camp Wildfire 2018 - Review
August 30th-September 2nd (3 nights)
Billed as “the first summer camp for adults”, this totally immersive experience truly lives up to its name, providing a wealth of daytime activities, team challenges and of course, nightlife. It successfully elevates the camp experiences you might have had as a child while simultaneously delivering an atmosphere of nostalgia (inspired by Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’) that is not over the top or kitsch.
Located within a picturesque heritage forest in Sevenoaks, Kent, it is hard to believe that there is such an oasis of natural beauty just a mere 35 miles outside of London (and for all you Londoners, there are frequent trains from all London stations that can get you there in as little as half an hour).
It is a great place to go with friends and let loose everyone’s playful side. Given the smaller size of the festival grounds, it is well suited even for large groups as everyone will be able to easily find each other if separated. However, these same characteristics make this festival very accessible for a person going on their own as it will be very easy to get to know others and make friends through activities and team games. Upon registration for the festival, along with choosing which daytime activities you would like to enroll in, you will also have the opportunity to join one of four teams that compete with one another in scout games held each day of the festival (think tug-of-war, egg and spoon races, an obstacle course). The four teams are all named after animals: hawk, badger, fox and squirrel and each have their own color. Antoine insisted we choose badger (one of the animals he identifies with most, I’m sure you’ll see why after reading a couple more posts) and while we had a lot of heart, were unfortunately not the best in competition. Each team is headed by a couple of extremely enthusiastic team leaders and there is such a sense of camaraderie that by the end of the three nights you are sure to have made some friends along the way. A ‘Cupids Club’ ticket that includes special group mixers and light-hearted icebreaker activities within the group is available for anyone looking for love.
Now onto the activities. Your ticket includes festival entry along with 2 gold, 6 silver and unlimited Bronze activities and will take place on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival. According to the Camp Wildfire website, you’ll probably have time for around 12-16 activities. Gold activities are those that allow you to, in small groups, learn a new skill with a qualified instructor and generally lasts around 90 minutes. Such activities include Flying Trapeze, Quad Biking, Pioneering and, my personal favorite: beekeeping. As someone previously not very fond of bees, this was such an eye-opening experience. We learned about bees themselves, the honey industry (got to try lots of different types of honey, did you know there are hives on the BBC building in London?) and even got to suit up and interact with a colony. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find such an experience elsewhere, much less at a festival.
Silver activities are more activity based such as yoga, dodgeball, and trampoline. We did zorbing (you know the one where you’re basically bubble boy and desperately try to run around without tumbling head over heels. Don’t worry we had an instructor watching over us). Even though it was a larger group with only four or five balls, we all had plenty of time to play around with them. The session ended with a relay race that was nothing if not nerve-wracking. Swing dancing was another silver activity that was thoroughly fun, if not a bit silly due to my two left feet. Everything else is classified as a bronze activity and there is such a variety of activities you’ll never be bored. We participated in a nature walk, a zombie run and the infamous water slide to name a few. Once you have your ticket you are able to register for the activities you want at an allotted time and although there are multiple sessions of each class during the weekend I would recommend booking when the site first opens up as popular classes fill up fast!
There is one main stage within the center of the camp that provides the nightlife each evening. There was a wide variety of music ranging from swing to acoustic to drum and bass that will provide something for everyone. Artists this year include: DJ Yoda, The Brass Funkeys and London Soul Club. In addition there are bonfires outside where you can gather around to hear some acoustic guitar or storytelling. The focus of Camp Wildfire I think is definitely more about the activities and camp atmosphere rather than a raging nightlife. There is after all only one stage and the music was not what I would normally listen to (indie pop, I’m not afraid to admit it) but it’s a good way to let loose, have a dance, and return to activities the next day without feeling totally shattered.
All in all, this is a festival unlike any other and one that, dare I say it, might leave you healthier than when you arrived given the loads of physical activities available, fresh forest air, and overwhelming sense of playfulness and camaraderie. As it’s held in the early days of September, it’s also the perfect festival to finish the season with. Tickets are almost sold out for this summer but you can try and snap some up here: https://campwildfire.co.uk/bookings/cw019/. Take the plunge and join the brigade of 2019 today!