All through the lower forms at the Roan School in Blackheath, London SE3, I was aware of the existence of Braithwaite Camp. It had been started in 1930 by a former headmaster of the school, Mr Arthur Hope, on land which he had bought with his own money. But I was not keen on camping; during my time in the Cubs and Scouts I had successfully avoided spending a single night under canvas. Braithwaite I knew was different, being a collection of huts. So by the time I had reached the Sixth Form I decided I could not to stave it off any longer. I put my name down to be one of the four 'seniors' to go to the Whitsun Braithwaite Camp - this was in June 1962. That week for me was truly a rite-of-passage. I had never been away from home before and certainly never travelled north of Watford (which we folk who lived on the south side of the Thames thought of as somewhere in Iceland). All my childhood holidays had been spent in Devon and Cornwall. We went fell-walking every day: Cat Bells, Grisedale Pike, Grasmoor, etc. We even struck out for Helvellyn one day but turned back when the rain set in good and proper. I swam in Grisedale Beck, and had my first ever pint in Braithwaite village pub - under age, of course. The junior boys whom we kind-of supervised were a lively bunch and we had a lot of laughs. The three masters who came with us were great too; it was good to see them in relaxed and 'off duty' mode. I called in at the Memorial Camp in 1990. One of the four original huts was still standing, but the rest had been replaced by the magnificent structure that today's visitors know and use. It is a wonderful facility. A warm vote of thanks is due to Arthur Hope, I think.
A memory shared byon Mar 18th, 2013.
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