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Our Ambassador Graduation Weekend 2023

Earlier this year we created a Graduation Planning Committee, we worked together and came up with the idea of camping to celebrate the end of our year as Action for Conservation (AFC) Ambassadors. We decided on an amazing location in the Brecon Beacons, the Penpont estate and so in October 2023, we all headed off for a weekend in South Wales.

Day 1

I met with the other young people from the South West at Bristol Parkway station. On the train, we played lots of card games like exploding kittens and Go Fish. We had a short, half-hour, journey but one other group had a 5-hour train journey and because of flooding some groups were later than planned. But when we all arrived at Newport station we got a bus to Penpont House.

Once we got there we all introduced ourselves with our names, pronouns and favourite toe (I said, she/her and left big toe!) After making sure everyone had arrived we found out who we were sharing tents with.

Then we took part in the first activity, a treasure hunt of sorts! We went around in groups of four and did things like weaving a willow crown, finding toadstools (Fly agaric), collecting apples for a crumble and finding our way through the Green Man Maze. Then we helped make soup for dinner. After eating dinner, some people went inside to draw whilst others played games around the campfire. Before bed, we did a sit spot (sitting quietly while watching and listening) for five minutes sat on the bridge looking at the stars and the river watching bats fly down to catch bugs, there were so many more stars than I can usually see at home. Then we got into our tents to sleep.

Left to right: Izzy wearing a crown of woven willow, Ambassadors finding toadstools, the Green Man Maze.

Day 2

On the second day after breakfast, we started with a long walk to some longhorn cows that they keep in a field on the farm. We also saw Foxgloves, which was strange as they normally flower in spring!

We had wraps and crisps for lunch then in the afternoon there was a round-robin of activities. Playing sardines in the maze, more weaving fish and crowns out of willow. Making dens out of sticks and leaves. We tested the dens using paper people to see if they were protected from ‘Storm Omar’. Ours got a bit wet! We also helped clear the overgrown walking trails around the estate so that school groups could use them, and collected tree seeds.

We had very nice veggie lasagne for dinner and then we played word association keeping warm by the campfire. 

Left and right: Longhorn cow, Ethel running through the campsite (photos taken by Rosie H).

Day 3

In the morning we did a sit spot in the walled garden. I sat under an arch of apple trees which was lucky because it started lightly raining. Then we all put a leaf in the well to make a promise to ourselves or a wish for the future. After breakfast, we packed up our things. Then we ate dark chocolate-covered apples and talked to everyone about our weekend. 

One of my favourite parts of the weekend was playing with the camp dogs Ethel, Rudie and Griff. Griff was very gentle, Ethel loved to play and Rudie liked to lean on you. Penpont is a really beautiful place, with the hills and the stars and the river. I loved meeting other AFC Ambassadors from around the country as well as seeing my South West Ambassador friends again. 

Thank you to AFC’s Holly for organising the camp. It was an amazing experience and a great way to end our ambassador year.

The River Usk (photo taken by Rosie H).

Lastly, I asked everyone what they liked about the camp and here's what they said:

Rosie W: "I most enjoyed the stargazing and sit spots by the bridge on the first evening. It was a peaceful and lovely way to appreciate nature as there was a limit to what there was to see so you could focus on the other senses and the smaller things."

Mabel: "Meeting and spending time with like-minded people while doing new and fun activities."

Sam: "Probably the evening activities like sitting around the campfire making our own dinner and doing mindfulness in nature."

Rosie H: "I liked meeting new people and found I was a lot happier when I got home because I had a change of people and routine also the campfire games were the things that brought everyone together and we started talking between groups."

Written by Rosie H with help from my mum.

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