Sensational smoothies, rapid rock-climbing, and lots and lots of rain
Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 13th annual Young Carers Festival in Hampshire. It meant giving up my much coveted weekend (this student has not dealt well with a 6.45am start every day!) but it was absolutely worth it.
I arrived on Saturday morning and was immediately taken on a tour of the campsite, from the music stage, where young carers enthusiastically belted out karaoke renditions of Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain, to the far more relaxing 'Chill Out Zone' – a small haven in the trees where arts, crafts and a 'wish' tree resided. Moving into one of the tents the super-sweet smell of the cake-making stand wafted towards us. Hundreds of kids wandered around, chatting with friends, playing football or trying one of the more daring activities like abseiling.
One of the things that struck me the most was how quickly they bonded with each other. It was almost impossible to tell which young people had known each other for several years and which ones had known each other for only a few hours. The atmosphere was happy and relaxed.
Among the many attractions at the festival was a pedal-powered blender and one of our best achievements was getting Matthew Reed, our Chief Executive, to make us a smoothie by pedalling to blend the fruit – although between you and me it was a tad lumpy!
Another highlight was climbing the 30 foot rock wall which was a bit of a challenge. I may have been beaten to the top by an 8-year-old tree monkey, but in my defence I was wearing wellies!
Saturday was beautiful weather, but our luck ran out on Sunday and in a Young Carers Festival tradition, we got rained on. The big event for Sunday was the world record attempt for the most people wearing paper hats.
This took a lot of organising and, since it was raining, it’s probably more accurate to say we were attempting to break the world record of the most people wearing soggy paper hats! It rained on and off all morning although the mood was never dampened with everyone doing Mexican waves and having a big sing-along session on the lawn.
During the course of the weekend I had lots of interesting conversations with some really remarkable young people, listening to their stories or just having a good old chat. One thing’s for sure, I had a fantastic time and it’s an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Can I go back again next year?