The Bucks Centenary Camp will go down in scout history for a number reasons: for being the most foul weathered weekend encountered at a county camp for a long time (I wish it had just been wet!); for being one of the most enjoyable experiences I have been involved in; and for providing enjoyment to so many beavers, cubs, scouts, explorers, networkers and (I hope) leaders too.
Everyone knew that the weather forecast was bad for the end of the weekend but I don’t think anyone expected it to be quite as bad as it turned out to be. 4 marquees blown down, 6 portaloos blown over, a number of tents blown away, 2 PA wings destroyed, rivers running down the field and a frantic packing away of sound kit and control desks before the wind claimed the stage control tower. But what were all the kids saying as they clambered into parents cars dripping wet and cold?? WHAT A BRILLIANT WEEKEND THEY ALL HAD!!! That just goes to show that no matter what is thrown at us we will always have a good time.
We arrived on site on a sunny Tuesday morning with nothing but a container to start us off. Delivery of the stage was due mid-morning and the lighting kit at lunch. Half our sound kit was about to arrive with Alan, and HSS would be here any minute with our fencing… but where were our generators?!
The rest of the crew arrived shortly and we discussed our plans for how this was going to work. All the details were in place and before long we had 4 guys from Alistage assembling our stage. Tents were going up and the back-stage area was laid out. Viking arrived and it was all hands on deck to unload the lighting kit… but where were our generators?!
As alarm bells rang we organised a phone call to Speedy Hire and to our horror discovered that the due to an admin cock-up the generators wouldn’t be there until Thursday morning. Being relaint on the generators for most of the stage rigging we turned our attention to other items. Before long the stage was assembled, tents were up and the back-stage fencing was in place The day was drawing to a close so we rigged up a sound system and ordered some pizza (our provided dinner didn’t really hit the spot). Before long we were relaxing on the stage with refreshments and looking forward to tomorrow.
An early start was had by all on Wednesday as the beating sun quickly made our tent unbearable to stay in and after a cup of coffee and some bacon butties we all had fun (I don’t think) unloading about 400 gas bottles. After our morning excercise we turned our attention back to the stage and set about constructing our control tower while Alan went to collect more sound kit from Amersham. Tom started rigging what could be done without the generators. Oh, and unloaded another 400 odd gas bottles. By the end of the day we had power distro going in, some lights up, trussing in place and the chain hoists waiting power, most of the control tower built and speakers being set up.
Thursday came and once again we were driven from tents by the sun for a measly breakfast. Our generators were due at 8 o’clock and the distro and truss were waiting to be connected. 8 came and went, still no generators, 9, 10 then 11. At midday we phone and discovered thay were under an hour away. When that lorry pulled in at 1 we were so relieved but we knew we were now against the clock to get everything rigged in time. The afternoon and Friday morning were a blur as we just got on with rigging all the rest of the lights, sound, DMX, multi-core, power and building PA wings and finishing the control tower.
By Friday afternoon we were all exhausted but ready to run for the opening ceremony. Japanese drummers on stage, the biggest scarf hanging in front of the stage and everyone set for the opening. The crowd grew and off we set. There were a few hairy moments had by all but the opening ceremony went smoothly, fireworks, drums songs and speeches and in true scout style a huge party afterwards.
Saturday morning was spent sorting snags, DMX addressing problems and other minor issues before the magic show at lunch. Spirits were high as all was going well, 2 magic shows out the way and we prepared for our first band ‘Medium Dave’ to play. The sun was shining and the band played well (even manged a mosh pit at 4 in the afternoon!!). The evening entertainment was a disco and live band ‘Under Construction’ followed by myself DJing through til late. Despite the rain setting in early in the evening we still continued past midnight and a great night was had by all.
Sunday came and we were recieving reports from all directions of bad weather but the severity of each varied. The rain was already falling and the magic show was already re-homed in a marquee. As other events were moved under shelter we were beginning to get concerned as our stage cover was only rated up to 24mph winds and we were forcast about that!! Keeping £100,000 of lights dry in inclement weather when we might have to take the roof down was a big concern. But despite this we battled on and ‘Just Another Reason To’ performed on time in the afternoon and we set about preparing for ‘Signify’. This was going to be a night to remember.
The sound check went ok and the moment scouts own was finished we started up our disco. A small crowd was still braving the weather as we watched and exodus of the site. By the time the band started it was estimated that only 300 of the 3000 odd on site remained!! Unfortunately Signify never finished their set as at 10 our PA wings began to collapse and the control tower threatened to take off. The decision was taken to call it off for everyones safety and the protection of the kit. A frantic operation was started to move speakers, amps and control desks to the safety of vans, stage or container. It took all of half and hour to clear and the site crew turned their attention to saving tents and marquees. We on the other hand grabbed some refreshments and sat on stage relaxing. Before long we had a small sound rig running and ‘Hoist up the Dorset Flag (Its F***ing Raining)’ by Dr Busker was aptly playing.
Monday morning came and thus started a two day get-out to remember on a field that resembled a marsh. All went pretty well and relaxing in Tim’s caravan with pizza on Monday night was hugely appreciated by all. By 6pm on Tuesday only an empty stage remained and we all went home to a well deserved shower and bed.