Camp Chief: this person’s/these peoples’ names appear in the programme. They are in overall charge of the camp. If parents need to speak to anybody about the camp either during or after camp they should contact the camp chief whose details will be on the pre camps circular. Before camp, all communications should go through the Organiser.
Organiser: this person’s name appears in the programme. They will be the first line of contact for campers or their parent/carers after a camp place has been offered and accepted. They administer the camp before it starts ensuring paperwork is complete and, initially, dealing with any queries or problems. They do not necessarily attend the camp.
Escort Leader: this person is responsible for supervising the group of children in the Escort Party whether travelling by coach or train and they travel to the campsite with the group.
Group Chief: Each child will be in a group depending on their age (see details here) and there will be a number of staff assigned to each group. The whole group camps close together and activities like Hike are organised around the Group. The Group Chief is the member of staff who supervises the whole group of children and staff.
Caterer: The people filling this role are responsible for providing the food for all the campers and providing daily menus and recipes. They supervise the ‘kitchen’: they do not cook the meals. Clans prepare, cook, serve and clear up all the meals except on hike.
Mentor: This is a member of staff who volunteers to support a particular family whose children might not otherwise manage to get to camp. They help with organising paperwork and equipment and will camp with the child/children for at least the first time they camp.
Escort: this is how most children get to camp as a group – usually by coach from a pick up point in London and then at least one additional point (usually a motorway service station) on the way to the site.
Consent Forms: This is a very important form sent out by the organiser which must be completed by an adult with parental responsibility for the individual camper. Each camper must have one. Because a signed consent form is an absolute requirement set by FSC’s insurers, no child is permitted to camp unless the Organiser has received the completed form two weeks before camp starts.
Health and Return Journey: This form is the most up-to-date record of the camper’s state of health and parents/carers must list any allergies, medication or possible issues affecting their camper. It is also confirmation of parental expectation of the camper’s journey home plus confirmation of their contact details during camp. It is completed just before camp starts and is handed over to the Escort Leader or the Camp Chief.
Pre Camps Circular: This is written by the Camp Chief(s) and will be sent out by the Organiser about three weeks before camp is due to start. It describes the sort of camp the Camp Chief intends to run and includes detailed information about travel and the site. It also contains emergency contact details.
Arise: the camp chief arrives at each group site in the morning to make sure the children are up in time for breakfast.
Campfire: this is the time when the whole camp gathers to sing around a fire in the evening.
Clan: this is the name given to the group which cooks and clears up the meals – usually for a whole day. There are children from each age group in a clan and 4 or 5 staff also from different groups. Everyone gets one or 2 turns on clan depending on the length of the camp. There may be times during the camp when the clan meets for other activities.
Hike: A two to four-day walk, which takes place during the camp, Each group walks with their staff for a distance suitable for the age and strength of its members. During the hike the children usually plan, buy (with camp funds) and cook their own meals, with help when needed.
Lats: These are the camp toilets which are dug by the campers and for which privacy is provided by hessian screens around the area.
Lodge Common Council: the campers gather around a formal fire to reflect on the camp, recognising things which have gone well and suggesting changes in activities or emphasis for the following year.
Merry moot: the whole camp comes together to entertain each other with a mixture of songs, sketches and improvisations.
Rally/dining circle: this is where the camp gathers for whole camp meetings (rally) and for meals. It is a circle of logs big enough for the whole camp to sit round.
Rest hour: after lunch children return to their group sites. The youngest are accompanied by 2 or 3 members of an older group. They are encouraged to rest. This is also the chance for the staff to have a meeting to discuss issues they may have.
Table cloth: the centre of the rally circle is the ‘table cloth’ so during meals everyone is expected to walk around the edge of the circle rather than across it in case food is spilled.
Activity camps are smaller than standing camps, usually with 15 to 25 children. Some mobiles are strenuous, others are easier: see the camp descriptions for more details. However, these are camps for more experienced FSCers who have attended two or more standing camps. This applies even if children have camped with other organisations – our standing camps impart the basic FSC philosophy essential for activity camps.
Lightweight tents, cooking stoves, fuel containers and billies are needed. A tent should have a flysheet, a sewn-in groundsheet and should ideally weigh less than 1.5 kg per person sharing it. Campers will normally be expected to supply at least one of the above items. The Camp Chief will supply a complete specialized kit list and will advise parents/guardians what to buy (or borrow). When packing for walking mobiles, all kit (with some space left for food) must fit inside a rucksack. Strong, waterproof walking boots with Vibram soles, or similar, are essential; they must be comfortable and be well walked-in.
All kit must be packed into several small waterproof bundles. Kitbags (maximum size 80cm by 30cm diameter) and a small frameless rucksack are best; anything larger will not fit into a canoe.
FSC has a strict policy that life jackets or buoyancy aids are worn when children are canoeing, sailing or rafting on camp. FSC will provide them. It is FSC’s policy that buoyancy aids when narrow-boating are not worn.
All kit must fit inside bike panniers and saddle bags (leaving some space for food!).
Activity Camps this Year
The list of activity camps being run this year is here.
On camp we live out in the elements. Staying warm and dry a wet day, or not suffering from sunburn after a hot one, makes a big difference to a camper’s enjoyment of camp. Learning to live comfortably in the outdoors in all weathers is an important part of camp life.
The kit list below is for our standing camps. Activity camps such as mobiles will have their own special requirements- you may get a kit list in the pre-camp circular.
The kit list for caving camps is available online: Caving Kit List
Reasonably priced equipment is available from several high street camping shops – it is not necessary to invest in the best or most expensive equipment for camp, but it must be fit for purpose. Very cheap discount equipment often does not stand up to the rigours of camp life and may leave campers cold, wet and unhappy. A tent meant as a ‘toy’ will not be suitable. Ideally, campers will bring a ‘two-person’ tent with a double skin. All children should practice erecting their tent before they travel to camp.
If you don’t have this equipment, and would like assistance in getting it, please see here for more information
Children should be involved with packing their own bags so they recognise what they are bringing. They should bring no more than three bags and each of these should be labelled with name, home address and camp name/number. It is useful to line all bags with bin liners to ensure clothing and equipment is kept dry. Anything brought to camp may get wet, dirty or lost. Leave precious things at home. If travelling on Escort, each child will also need a bag for their lunch supplies.
The kit list is also available here as a PDF.
For a one-week camp. For a fortnight camp, pack double quantities of trousers and thick socks. This is especially necessary for under-11s.
Items marked with an asterisk * are optional.
- rainwear see note 1
- 3 warm tops (sweatshirts etc)
- 2 warm woollen jerseys or fleeces
- pyjamas/track suit
- footwear see note 2
- 4 pairs of trousers/jeans see note 3 (8 for a fortnight for under-11s)
- thick socks, 2 pairs (4 for a fortnight for under-11s)
- swimming costume
- woollen hat and gloves
- shorts/dress/skirt (optional)
And depending on the length of camp, an appropriate number of…
- light tops (T-shirts etc) see note 3
- socks (minimum 6 for a week, 10 for a fortnight – they get wet!)
- Cloth bag containing: plastic mug, deep plate, knife, fork and spoon
- Sponge bag containing: flannel, soap and nailbrush, toothbrush and paste, comb/hairbrush
- Towels, two medium size
- Penknife see note 9
- Torch and spare batteries see note 8
- plastic bags / bin liners (for keeping things clean and dry)
- notebook and pencil
- Paper and stamps (for writing home)
- insect repellent*
- musical instrument *
- materials for making things (e.g. embroidery thread) *
- ‘dressing up’ clothes*
Note 1: Rainwear
Rainwear Every camper should have a complete set of rainwear. Several types of garment are suitable for camp, but the essential features of them all are that they are completely waterproof, and that headwear (a hood or hat) and waterproof trousers are included. If possible test your camper’s waterproofs under the shower or with a garden hose (but remember if you selected badly you may not be able to return them to the shop after this!).
Suitable types of rainwear include those made from:
- PVC – This is tough, suitable for young children, and completely waterproof if somewhat heavy and a bit bulkier.
- Proofed nylon – Check that the proofing is waterproof e.g. neoprene lining, and that the seams are taped to ensure they are waterproof.
- Breathable “Gore-Tex” or similar garments are also suitable if fully waterproof, but bear in mind they are more expensive and should be 3 layer (rather than 2) so that they stand up to the harsh treatment they may receive at camp.
- Rubberised fabric or oilskins are tough and waterproof, but heavier.
AVOID: Lightweight nylon cagoules with chemically treated seams – they will leak after anything more than a shower; “Barbour” or other similar waxed jackets – they are not waterproof in sustained wet conditions and are expensive.
Note 2: Footwear
Even at standing camps we do a lot of rough walking, so footwear must be comfortable. Leather walking boots are ideal as they provide ankle support, good foot protection, and have good grip in most conditions. For younger children, sturdy trainers with a good grip may be adequate. As it is often wet underfoot, Wellingtons are recommended for all campers and are ESSENTIAL for the under 11s – make sure they are big enough to accommodate thick socks, and that they tuck inside your waterproof trousers.
In addition, campers may wish to have some lighter footwear for wearing around camp e.g. light trainers, sandals or similar.
All footwear must be well walked-in before camp.
Note 3: Trousers and Shirt/Top
Jeans are tough but terrible to wear when wet, so bring a variety of types of trousers. Tracksuit bottoms are ideal. Fleece trousers are great on cold days. Bear in mind that synthetic fibres dry quickly – cotton stays wet and cold for ages.
At least one light top should be long sleeved with a collar to protect against the sun by day, and insects by night. Clothing that can be worn in many layers is much more flexible, and allows adjustment to the weather and conditions better.
Note 4: Tent
FSC holds a limited supply of small tents which we can lend to campers at standing camps. Those who continue to camp will want to get a tent of their own.
Tents should be fully waterproof, and should have 2 layers – an inner and a flysheet. Single layer nylon tents will not withstand heavy rain and are unsuitable. Tents should be suitable for at least 2 people but also remember that they may need to be carried on hike or mobile camps. Both A-frame (less common now, and more costly), and dome tents are suitable subject to the previous conditions. When choosing a tent, make sure it is both stable and waterproof in windy conditions (if the flysheet and inner tent can touch in the wind, it will leak). If flexible poles are used, alloy are stronger than fibreglass, but will increase the cost. An entrance porch is useful for removal and storage of wet clothing and boots under shelter. Porches also help keep the inner tent dry when getting in on a rainy day.
Please make sure your camper is able to pitch their own tent before sending them to camp with it.
Note 5: Groundsheet
A separate groundsheet is useful for sleeping out and sitting on.
Note 6: Sleeping Bag
Synthetic (eg ‘Hollowfill’) sleeping bags are recommended for most campers as they retain much of their effectiveness when damp, are easier to clean, and less costly. However, some older more experienced campers may prefer down bags which are warmer for the weight, and pack smaller, although they require more care. Sleeping bags are rated by warmth as 1-5 seasons, and we recommend 3 seasons or above for general camp use.
We recommend that all sleeping bags should be used with sheet linings – either cotton or fleece (avoid thin synthetic linings as they are less comfortable and offer little extra insulation). The use of an insulating mat between the sleeping bag and the groundsheet will add significantly to warmth of the sleeper. Camp beds and lilos are bulky and unsuitable for camp. We recommend that two sleeping bags be used at Easter and Autumn camps. All bedding should be packed into a thick polythene bag or sack.
Note 7: Rucsac
Most importantly, a rucksack should fit the owner comfortably, and be able carry the essentials depending on age, namely sleeping bag, spare clothes, waterproofs, eating things, and some food and water on hike. Rucksacks are graded by capacity, and as a rough guide, consider 35-40 litres for smaller children and 50-65 litres for larger ones. It is worth testing a rucksack fully loaded before camp, preferably when trying it on in the shop, and always line it with a waterproof liner – rubble sacks are a cheap and effective solution.
Many campers will not be able to pack all their equipment in a single rucksack. See the general notes above concerning additional luggage.
Note 8: Torch
Good lightweight torches are widely available. Torches will need to be carried on hike so don’t bring a massive searchlight, and remember the spare batteries.
Note 9: Penknife
A simple penknife or single-bladed folding knife is useful. Extra gadgets on a penknife will increase the price more than the usefulness. A lanyard, chain, or length of string is strongly recommended for attaching the knife to a belt as a safeguard against loss. Pack your knife in your rucksack for the escort journey – it will not be needed and is liable to be lost.
Our experience at camp convinces us that the under tens need extra underwear, socks and two pairs of pyjamas (three for a fortnight). Waterproofs should be large enough for the tops to fit comfortably over several layers, and the bottoms to fit over welling- tons.
Lightweight tents, cooking stoves, fuel containers and billies are needed. A tent should have a flysheet, a sewn-in groundsheet and should ideally weigh less than 1.5 kg per person sharing it. You will normally be expected to supply at least one of the above items. Your Camp Chief will supply a complete specialised kit list and can advise you what to buy (or borrow).
When packing for walking mobiles, all your kit (with some space left for food) must fit inside your rucksack. Strong, waterproof walking boots with Vibram soles, or similar, are essential; they must be comfortable and be well walked-in.
For canoeing mobiles, your kit has to be packed into several small waterproof bundles. Kitbags (maximum size 80cm by 30cm diameter) and a small frameless rucksack are best; anything larger will not fit into a canoe. On cycling mobiles, all your kit must fit inside your panniers and saddle bags (leaving some space for food!).
Forest School Camps takes responsibility only for the activities listed in the programme. Forest School Camps insures for its liabilities at law. While all possible care is taken to avoid accidents, Forest School Camps does not insure for personal accident or for loss or damage to personal property. Those who are not already insured for personal accident and for all risks in respect of personal effects may wish to make their own arrangements.
If the camper does not live in the United Kingdom permanently we may need to check their insurance cover before they camp.
Travel to Camp
Escorted parties travel between London and our camps. Final details of times and meeting places will be sent in an email (called the Pre Camps Circular) about three weeks before camp is due to start.
Most children and some staff arrive together at camp travelling by train or coach from London (unless otherwise specified in the camp description). This journey is called ‘Escort’ and is the beginning of the camping experience. If possible, children should travel on Escort and full details are sent out before camp.
When coaches are used for Escort, there will be 1 or 2 specific meeting points, usually service stations on motorways, where children can join the Escort party along the route. The camp organiser will communicate where the meet-up points are when travel is arranged.
If travel is by train, campers may arrange to join the escorted party at any station where the train stops. Those doing so are asked to purchase their own tickets to and from the destination (a travel refund will be made).
All campers should be fully protected against tetanus well before camp.
Ticks are becoming more common on most sites. In areas where ticks are known, campers are encouraged to wear long sleeved t-shirts and long or waterproof trousers tucked into socks to minimise risk of tick bites and tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. Wearing insect repellents containing saltidin or citriodiol which are available at chemists or outdoor suppliers is also encouraged. Some insect repellents specifically mention that they are active in repelling ticks. All camps are provided with tick removers. More detailed information on this topic can be found in the Ticks & Lyme Disease section and will be provided by your camp organiser.
Information about Covid precautions will be updated here.
On camp, all participants will be exposed to the elements including local mosquitoes. Campers should bring adequate, high protection sun-cream, sun hats which provide effective cover and insect repellent.
Alcohol and Illegal Drugs
Campers under the age of 18 should not bring any alcohol to camp. It is against the law for children under eighteen to buy cigarettes or tobacco, or to smoke in public places. All FSC camps discourage smoking. Illegal drugs are not tolerated on any FSC site and parents/guardians should prevent their campers from bringing illegal substances to camp. If it is discovered that a child has brought illegal substances to camp, FSC reserves the right to send the child home and to refuse to enrol them on future camps.
In life outside camp almost everyone owns a mobile phone and uses it constantly for communication, photography and the internet. At camp we have traditionally managed to do without phones to escape to the beauty of the surroundings and the friendships we make in the field. This has always been one of the things that makes camp that bit more special. We thus ask all children to leave their phones at home. If they are needed to arrange pick up at the end of camp their phones can be looked after by a staff member. We also encourage staff to leave their phones behind wherever possible. Sharing photos of camp on social media is also discouraged so it is best to avoid taking photographs on smartphones.
Each year there are children who are camping for the first time. Staff are aware of this and make every effort to ensure that new children feel at home and secure. Camp is a caring community where everyone tries to be alert to each individual’s hopes and fears. The camp organiser will send more information about individual camps and is the first contact to ask for further information about camp as needed.
Usually, there is a Precamps Meeting during April in London for parents, guardians and sponsors whose children are enrolled on Spring, Whitsun or Summer camps, particularly for the first time. This event is an opportunity to meet some of the staff of the camps and to find out more about FSC. Full details of the meeting are sent with offers of camp places.
Further information and advice will arrive by e-mail a few weeks before camp.
Most of our Easter, Whitsun, and Summer camps are standing camps, meaning that they are based at one site. Small camps have between 25 and 35 children on them, and large camps between 60 and 70. Children are divided into groups two ways: one by age into Elves, Woodlings, Trailseekers, Trackers, Pathfinders and Way Wardens; and one vertically, across all the age groups, into Clans. At standing camps children acquire basic camping skills, learning to pitch a tent, to look after their possessions and to keep them dry. They learn to gather and cut wood, to make fires and to cook food. The clans take turns in the kitchen under the supervision of the Caterers to prepare the food for the whole camp.
Other activities during the camp may include swimming, woodcraft, exploring, night walks, country dancing, camp fires, organised activities and games. A two to four-day hike, which takes place during the camp, consolidates their newly learned skills. The end of camp is marked by two major events: Merrymoot and Lodge Common Council.
Singing is a vital part of all camp life both as impromptu additions to daily activities and around every campfire. Songs are shared and passed from generation to generation and camp to camp. FSC’s songbook is available on this website on the glee pages, along with some recordings. FSC is currently revising its songbook to be more reflective of its membership and modern changes in attitudes and sensitivities.
FSC strives to be inclusive: some camps are organised that are suitable for disabled children or those who require extra staffing support. In addition we aim to integrate disabled campers into as many of our camps as possible throughout the programme, providing the right staff and support are available to meet their interests and needs. FSC is more than happy to advise parents, carers or guardians which camp would be the most suitable for a particular child.
See Disabled Campers for more information.
Activity camps are smaller than standing camps, usually with 15 to 25 children. Some mobiles are strenuous, others are easier: see the camp descriptions for more details. However, these are camps for more experienced FSCers who have usually attended two or more standing camps. This is because our standing camps impart the basic FSC philosophy essential for activity camps.
See Activity Camps for more information about the different types.
Associate & Family Camps
Associate Camps allow new campers with no FSC background to get a taster of FSC life and to decide whether camping with FSC is for them. For those who camped with FSC as children, former staff members and active members of staff with small children, they provide a continuing link to camp and an opportunity to introduce their families to FSC camping and to be part of a lodge.
See Associate Camps for more information.
Skills & Conservation Camps
Join us for activities ranging from coppicing, hedging and pond management to path laying, building bridges, constructing compost toilets and stiles, even repairing and renovating farm buildings. We recently built an island! No special qualifications are needed and it’s a great opportunity to try your hand at something new or to hone existing skills. We also enjoy good food, good company and starry evenings around the fire.
See Skills & Conservation Camps for more information.
Below is information about what going on an FSC camp is like, together with information about how to prepare for camp.
Please pay close attention to the equipment list. We have learned over many years experience what campers find vital at camp to keep them warm, dry, and comfortable.