Camp Wildfire has been popping up on my Instagram for years. A blend of festival, summer camp and al around good time, I was thrilled to be invited to see what it was really like in 2022. Well, I wasn’t quite prepared for just what a wholesomely good time we were going to have. Read on for my full Camp Wildfire review.
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This review is going to be all about our experience of weekend two, 2023. If you are looking for a little more information, check out our Complete Guide to Camp Wildfire.
What is Camp Wildfire?
Part music festival, part arts and crafts circle and part fitness camp, Camp Wildfire is totally unique in the adult space. Campers get to try out all kinds of activities from making terrariums to learning the Dirty Dancing routine via juggling and zorbing. These activities run throughout the day and then, in the evenings there is free entertainment. You can dance to a DJ or a band, or listen to talks and comedy. The whole thing is super wholesome and tons of fun!
Getting to Camp Wildfire
Being carless wonders, we booked tickets from London to …. station in Kent. This is just 45 minutes from London From here, we were due to catch the shuttle bus to the campsite. It was raining a bit and there wasn’t a working toilet at the station which was a shame as the coach didn’t arrive until about 50 minutes after the train arrived. It would have been good for the timings to match up a little better but we took the chance to meet some of our fellow train goers. Once the bus did arrive, we piled on and eventually left for a 15 minute drive to the campsite.
Settling In and Initiation
Arriving, we showed our tickets quickly on the way in, ducking out of the rain as much as possible and then found the pre-pitched tent area. We opted for a pre-pitched tent as we don’t own a tent, didn’t want to buy one just for this trip and as mentioned before we don’t have a car so it made travelling much easier. Boy, were we glad we did. The rain was still coming down and nobody likes putting up a tent in the rain.
We sheltered and unpacked for about half an hour and then the sun made an appearance. We had a little wander around the campsite. The rest of the site is only opened up for the parade and so we grabbed a quick drink and awaited the gathering of the four patrols. These teams are self-assigned and we had picked to join the squirrels sporting yellow clothes and ginger ears. I was weirdly nervous and the hyper energy was spilling out everywhere! Luckily, some veterans took us under their wing and kindly gave us carabiner clip to attach our mugs to our bags.
“Oh, you are so organised”
“It’s not our first year”
…Rosie looks on in awe
We learned the patrol chants/songs before getting a hype speech from our Patrol Leaders and making our way into the magical forest. Everybody paraded through the woods with a samba band stomping their way behind us. It was so exciting! We walked to the Patrol Games Ground ready to kick the weekend off with some games.
Patrol Games 1
The Patrol Leaders took to the floor and pumped up their supporters before embarking on a few example games to get everyone started. The first game involved putting as many pegs as possible onto somebody’s face. I think we were all quite glad not to volunteer for this torture. I mean, forget the pain of the pinching, but the Squirrel tactic of pegging around the mouth would have made me gag so badly!
Then it was the turn of the campers to compete. There was a mass limbo which everybody who felt flexible got up to tackle. It got incredibly low before the hawks took the title. Then there were a couple of cool games, one involving wooden spoons and eggs. It was a game of self defence and attacking but it’s awfully tricky to explain!
Dinner Time 1
We walked straight out of the games and into the queues for dinner. At Camp Wildfire there is a collection of food trucks serving all kinds of delicious street food. On day one we opted for the pan-Asian spot partly due to the fact Gyoza are delicious and partly because it had a shorter queue. The gyozas were very tasty but a little oily and possibly a little overpriced at £8. The noodles (maybe) tasted good but not they weren’t super memorable.
80s Lycra Dance Party
I’ll admit, we misunderstood the assignment here. We thought they were having a costume disco with lots of neon and 80s tune. Turns out, 80’s Lycra Dance Party is a music and dance act and they are the most fun! Along with a DJ, three dancers in their full spandex glory bust out some classic 80s jazz and aerobics. We all danced and sang along, warming up the audience for the weekend perfectly.
Eddie the Eagle
Eddie the Eagle is a British icon. He is the hero in one of those quintessential underdog stories. You may have seen the film about him that came out a few years ago but the guy himself was even more charming in real life when he took to the stage at Camp Wildfire 2022. He had the whole audience in giggles in his enjoyable and inspirational talk. I mean, he is one of the reasons we booked weekend 2. The curiosity was just too strong and it paid off.
I was pretty tired so I ditched at around 23:00, leaving Mr Fluskey to the stand up comedy. I wandered back through the forest on a pleasingly well-lit path, popped back to the tent and grabbed my hot water bottle and headed to the cooking area to fill it up. There was quite a long queue for the two kettles who were working overtime! After about ten minutes, someone tried the hot tap and found out that it was really very hot. I decided to cut my losses with the electric kettles and filled the hot water bottle with the hot tap instead. “Haha, I thought” “I have hacked this!” Well, turns out that it went cold quite quickly once I was in bed so it wasn’t quite the genius idea I’d thought it was. The combo of hot water vs boiling and the mini hot water bottle as a full size one meant I was quite chilly all night. Lesson learned, on day two I made my hot water bottle at around 21:00 before we went to the dance tent meaning there was no queue for the kettles.
Mr Fluskey appeared an hour or two later to a very grumpy wife who was cold and couldn’t sleep. Sadly, sleep was elusive that night and I shivered my way through the next six hours. Luckily, I’d packed a red bull or two and so I was able to fuel up ready for day two…..
We decided to start day two with a session of tie-dye. We figured it would give our items a chance to dry properly if the weather wasn’t ideal. I brought a cheap cotton dress from Vinted with me and a cheap cotton t-shirt for Karl from Primark. The leaders explained how to do the tie dye (the order to dip the dyes and some cool techniques) and then left us to our own devices. I wanted to pay homage to a fire candle I made at summer camp as a kid so went for yellow and red. Mr Fluskey decided to tackle all the colours. We began to dip with more hope than skill and rinsed out our creations. I was really pleased with mine and though it wasn’t half as impressive as those hanging on the line but it was better than I thought I could do! Mr Fluskey’s came out a little more army green than planned, not quite like the one he was inspired by but he plans to wear it in the future so I call that a great success!
We signed up for zorbing assuming that we would be popped in a ball and rolled down the hill next to general camping. Well, we were quickly earning that you can’t assume anything with Camp Wildfire. The zorb balls were in a giant inflatable ring and there wasn’t a slope in sight. Instead, there were two zorb balls in a large inflatable ring which were swarmed by shouting campers. It looked like chaos but people looked like they were having fun so we took a seat and waited for our session.
Everyone was advised to take absolutely anything that could become lost, earrings, bracelets, watches and bags, and to remove their shoes. We dutifully started removing these items as the previous session came off the pitch (pitch?). One person had a bloody face and another was limping. What on earth had we signed up for?
We were divided into two teams and the first game was a relay race. One by one we dived into the zorb and ran, using our hands to propel us to the other side of the arena and back. So far, so easy. Then, the madness began! We took turns inside the ball again, but this time, ran at the other team’s ball, bouncing off and pushed on our way by our team. It was crazy and hysterically funny. Inside the ball, it was near impossible to stand up after impact and for those pushing, the balance between driving the zorb forward and avoiding the reound took some practise.
We came awya pretty sweaty but, happily, not bleeding at all.
Mr Fluskey has previously taken two flying trapeze lessons so it was with mild confidence he climbed the long rope ladder to the high platform. I watched from below, wondering what the faraway blob I was looking at was. Then, all of a sudden, he was swinging, his legs were up and the trick was on. It was kind of surreal watching him, remembering how scary stepping off the high platform is. From a long way off, it looked so serene! He swung a couple of times before doing a controlled fall to the net below. Then he rescaled the ladder, ready for a trickier manoeuvre. The next swing involved getting his legs up and over the bar. To be honest, I don’t think our core strength is what it was. Observing his attempt at swinging up to the bar, and my static trapeze later in the day was really quite embarrassing.
Not only is Mr Fluskey a superior athlete, but also a keen marksman…apparently. Being a blind lady, I didn’t join him for the rifle shooting which was just as well, as the targets were miles from the shooting posts. The air rifles were long and fire little black pellets so a steady arm and a good eye were definitely required. Not only did he get a bullseye but he snagged a patrol point for the squirrels too!
Whilst Mr Fluskey was busy doing his rifle shooting, it was time for me to prove my circus skill prowess with a session of static trapeze and aerial hoop.
Spoiler: I did not manage it
We were all given a warm up and then the group was split into two. We were assigned to the static trapeze first. I think I underestimated how much the swing of the flying trapeze helps get your legs up and onto the bar. Turns out my arms are weak, my stomach muscles have turned to jelly and there is a lot of bulk in the way. I miss my fit pandemic moment! We were taught the way to hoist ourselves up onto a bar and then stand up. It was surprisingly wobbly when you stood up but I really liked sit up there. (It was all of a metre off the ground).
Then we swapped and got to try out the hoop. I was surprised at how tricky it was to wiggle into the right position without bruising your inner thighs. I tried to do the things we were shown but as soon as I was on the hoop, I totally forgot what I was meant to do. Added to this, my hoop was swinging in time with the one next to us and my head was narrowly missing the head of my fellow workshop participant.
The whole thing was a bit of a mess so I will leave it to the experts from now on and just enjoy Cirque de Soleil with a new respect.
Being a very organised bunny, I had premade a couple of portions of pasta and pesto. I thought it wouldn’t do too badly at room temperature and pesto is the best. We scarfed it down and then went back to the ice cream van for dessert. The flavours were good and we demolished the ice cream in seconds as we dashed into the woods.
I always thought I was pretty musical. I can sing and pick out a simple tune on a fair few instruments. However, it seems my downfall is chords. Mr Fluskey and I were both signed up for ukelele and we arrived (just) on time to see a nice big group. We found Mr Fluskey a lefthanded ukelele and squeezed onto a hay bale, ready to let our newest musical hobby take shape.
Well, we started out just fine. The A minor, C and F were all OK…not great, but OK. We strummed our way through a few simple songs and we were feeling pretty cocky. However, we were then intorcued to the G chord. Now, I am going to make an excuse here. I have three weirdly long fingers (numbers 2, 3 and 4) and trying to cram them all onto a tiny fret was darn near impossible. The calm facade fell apart! We spent the rest of the lesson in fits of giggles and swearing gently to ourselves as those around us strummed away with aplomb. It was so much fun but boy, we sucked!
Patrol Games 2
Before getting down to the business of group games, there wads a spectacular show. One person from each of the patrols did a lipsync to a full song. We had performances of Lion King, Bruno Mars and Beyonce. Our squirrel singer did Single Ladies and the whole patrol got to join in with the dancing. It was such fun. I am thrilled to say that we won the lip sync!
Next came the most stressful game I have ever watched. Four people from each team ly on their backs and balnceda big tub of water on their feet. OK, stressful enough right Well, they then had to take off their socks one by one. I could barely breathe! After a slow practise round, they then mad e it a race. I was dead! It was such a coool game but how the contestants managed it just blows my mind.
By the end of the second round of Patrol Games, the squirrels were in lead. Roll on day three’s final.
It was treat time! I had been craving halloumi fries all day since seeing someone munching on them at lunchtime. We queued for the halloumi fries and got the last portion. It was fate! Then we meandered over to the mac and cheese truck, opting for a pulled pork dish. The halloumi fries were perfection but the mac and cheese was pretty meh.
After our food digested a bit, we danced for a little in the main music tent but we were both exhausted so didn’t last long.
Oh my lord! We were STIFF! My shoulders, my tummy and pretty much all my other muscles were aching like mad. The combination of zorb wars, hoisting my big bottom on the aerial hoop and my poor choice of pillow had left me broken. Karl was no better, creaky and sore.
Burlesque for Breakfast
There isn’t a lot that can get you out of bed early on a Sunday but going to dance burlesque should be one of them! There weren’t many people around when I turned up for the 09:0 session This was probably a blessing as the dress I was wearing was a little shorter than i had thought and there was plenty of bending over in our burlesque dance lesson. We started by learning some basics and improvising in couples a little. It was really fun messing about and experimenting. Then, by the time we began to learn a routine, the area had filled up with people getting a hangover-curing hot breakfast. We learned a dance to “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago, which I love I thought I was smashing it but looking back at the recording, I am awfully stiff. Turns out, I’m a better burlesque singer than dancer. It was the best start to day three I could have asked for though. My aching muscles were stretched out nicely and I was buzzing with performance energy, ready to tackle the rest of the day.
At just five points, choir was a no brainer. We have both sung in choirs and really enjoy it. This was quite a relaxed workshop with a lot of call and response, but I guess that’s par for the course if you’re in the woods! It was nice to be welcomed into the circle whilst everyone sang around us, a very calming moment but overall I don’t think it was for me. As much as I love singing, it was too reminiscent of a previous choir experience that was rather tedious.
“I sing” “You sing” “I sing” “You sing”
Anotherchance to prove my amazing organisation… I was doing some googling about food that you can eat whilst hiking and found out that microwave rice doesn’t need heating and is shelf stable. Well, that was a win. We picked a pouch of rice each which sounded tasty. Then, we took a can of sweetcorn and poured it in. Et Voila! A flavour bomb of rice with vegetables in.
True crime is a pandemic discovery of mine. I have always enjoyed learning about grizzly crimes and how they were solved (or not) but the world of podcasts really opened it up. When I saw a crime scene forensics workshop on offer I jumped straight on it. Mr Fluskey wasn’t bothered so I did this one solo.
We had a series of evidence items that we got to explore, learn about or puzzle our way through. The room worked through suspect interviews, learned how to dust for fingerprints, examined a crime scene and reconstruct brown evidence.
The whole workshop ended in a mock trial with all the suspects we had considered in the dock. I got to play the barrister and had a whale of time overacting with the guy playing the judge. Oscars all round!
The forensics workshop was two and a half hours so Mr Fluskey had time to go and do his own activity. He chose to join the Nerf Battle! The attendees were divided into two teams and then shot at each other with those iconic foamy nerf bullets. There were some fun hay bales and other obstacles to play around. It looked fun but I was far too blind.
For just a few credit, the juggling lesson was a no brainer. I was convinced I could juggle three balls but very quickly found out that this was NOT true! The lesson started with light scarves and I had that down pat however, we were then offered a selection of rings, clubs, balls and other fun juggling accoutrement. I trie all of them with varying levels of failure Luckily, Mr Fluskey was also really quite terrible so we could laugh our way through the hour together, running after wayward balls and apologising profusely to people we had almost hit. The tutors, in desperation, taught us some fun tricks that required a little more showmanship and a little less skill.
One of our buddies, in fact the lovely lady who choreographed our wedding dance, works for a fun swing dance class company called Swing Patrol. We were super excited when we reached our swing dance lesson to see it was being run by two more of their teaching staff.
Now, I left the filming of this one to Mr Fluakey and he failed to record any of it so yiu’ll just have to use your imagination.
We very quickly started swapping partners as we learned more and more steps. There were a few people who looked stricken when they lost their original partners but it was really fun teaching people or being flung around by confident dancers. By the last round, we had made it back round to each other and it was really cool to see how we had both progressed. I wonder how we compared to our wedding dance!?
The dance class was right next to the Patrol Games ground so we head straight over, ready for the final! Going in, we were winning and so ready to take the title!
Before proceedings began there was an amazing surprise. Two people made their way into the centre of the arena, the guy holding a mic. They were from different patrols and we all wondered if this was another lip sync or something. He brought the mic to his face and made a beautiful, heartfelt speech which ended in a proposal!
She said “YES”!
It was so lovely and all rather Romeo and Juliet-ish…but with less tragic death at the end.
Then we were treated to ta performance from the sign language choir. Throughout the weekend, classes had been perfecting the sings for a Pink song and everyone who knew it it joined in. I am 100% doing it next year. So cool!
And with that, the games began.
Patrol Games 3
The final involved an obstacle course of sorts which looked so difficult . I have no idea how my fellow patrol members felt brave enough to volunteer,. We both sat, very quietly, as other people yelled and waved their hands to be selected. Im goihg to be honest, i can’t remember/couldn’t see all the stage but there was throwing a thing into a bucket, throwing a hoop over a person and other such shenanigans!
Next two giant wooden frames were put in place and large catapults were constructed. The two winning teams, the Squirrels and the Hawks were both given a tub of water balloons and patrol leaders were dressed in large bullseyes. Then each team frantically began firing the water balloons across the field. It was mad! Both teams took a while to work out a good technique and adjust their angle. It was with a dramatic burst of water against the bullseyes that the hawks took the crown. They rushed onto the field in celebration and a blue smoke bomb went off to declare the winners. It was so cool and even my hyper competitive ass was pleased for them.
Saving the best dinner for last, we opted for a pizza on the last night. These freshly baked lovelies had been tempting us the whole weekend but we wanted to wait until we weren’t hanging upside-down any more to eat one. It was a great Napoli style pie. To go with it, we went to the Indian street food truck and ordered tikka masala fries. Oh my lord! These might not look all that much but the curry was rich, spicy and indulgent. I want them all over again writing about them!
Feeling all full of curry chips and happy vibes we decided to pop into the dance tent. We had a great boogie to some banging GJs and there was actually an organic dance circle. That NEVER happens! We even had the chance to dance with our Patrol Leaders who were all such lovely souls.
Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon
The weekend ended with a bang in the main music tent with Charlotte Church and her awesome band. |I thought it was so much fun! Charlotte was shopwing off her range in a set full of popular covers. Mr Fluskey thought she was quite self indulgent musically but I think a lot of people (including me) would have been disappointed if she didn’t get to show off a least a little. The backing singers were ACE and each got their own solo song too which whipped up the crowd even more. thought it was a fantastic end to the entertainment and walked out of the tent with a big grin.
There wasn’t much to do on our last morning, just get packed up and ready to go. We waited for the bus just as it started to rain again….which was a nice bookend I suppose. Again, the bus didn’t match up brilliantly with the train schedule and we waited for 40 minutes or so for the once-hourly train to London. It was nice to only be slightly hungover and not feel too worse for wear but I was definitely looking forward to my bed and electrical plugs.
What I Wish I’d Known Before Going to Camp Wildfire
Camp Wildfire was such an awesome weekend but there were few things that I got a little wrong and will do differently this year. Turns out:
I am a phone addict
I never realised just how much I rely on my phone. The battery hemmourage so quickly (especially as the signal is bad in the woods so it was constantly searching for a whiff of 4G). Next year I intend to take a camera separately to my phone so that I can turn it off and save it for the important things.
I need more bedding
The cold was real and I am a total wimp! We had airbeds and sleeping bags, along with a mini hot water bottle and thick PJs but even so, I got cold and couldn’t warm myself up again. I am going to pack lots of blankets and a full-sized hot water bottle next year! The days were nice and warm but once my feet are cold, I am doomed.
I need a nose gay
The toilets really weren’t bad and on the whole they were very clean and didn’t smell. However, one morning I turned up at the bathroom just before it was cleaned and after a bad night’s sleep, the smell was slightly too much for my delicate stomach. I gagged and had to vacate the fancy bathrooms sharpish. Next time, I fully intend to take a little face wipe or similar with some nice smelling spray on it just in case.
I want to try more things that I might suck at
Ukulele is NOT my forte, static hoop was slightly embarrassing and our juggling was truly laughable but boy, did I have fun trying these new skills! I am going to spend next year’s credits on a few more activities that I’ve never considered before and not those I think I might excel at. It is not a competition and the chance to get the synapses firing is so exciting. It isn’t something we get to do as adults very often and it feels pretty exciting.
Final Thoughts for this Camp Wildfire Review
I am now a Camp Wildfire devotee. We loved the weekend so much. It was wonderful to be surrounded by people that were there to learn new skills, have some wholesome fun and then have a boogie at the end of the night. It didn’t have the boozy undertone of many a music festival (until it was time for a bevvie in the evening) so it felt super safe, and super-duper fun!