Gilwell Park Wintercamps 2012 - 2014

In the last 3 years we have been fortunate enough to work with the team at Gilwell Park to provide off road experiences for the participants of the famous Gilwell Park Wintercamp events.

In 2012 we created a temporary off road course on The Quick which featured some very basic obstacles dug out of the ground. It took two and a half full days to get set up and ready for the saturday morning activity start time. 

During the weekend we got just over 1200 young people through the activity with minimal queues operating 6 vehicles including defender 90 & 110, discovery 1 & 2, hi-lux and freelander 1 sport. We took a spare discovery 2 and a 110 recovery vehicle loaded with tools & recovery equipment just in case! On top of the 6 drivers going around all day we had 3 marshall armed with digging tools to keep the course moving and filling in any excessive rut and holes. To get the people safety briefed and in/out of the vehicles we had 4 members who braved the cold! Once the activity was over we filled in all the holes and cleaned up our mess and left the field as close to how we found it as we could.

Wintercamp 2013 saw us construct a new course on the other side of the campsite this was to be a more permanent feature so we don't need to spend days digging each time. Based around the spoil heap from the toilet block foundations that were built on branchet field and the mound surrounding the old wood pile we set to work with a site survey in the summer while assisting with kit runs at Gilwell 24. It was decided it might be a good idea and so that autumn we headed back armed with brush cutters and chain saws to see what we could un-cover. 

All was looking good and after lots of clearance work a plan was formed and a layout decided. Then the week before wintercamp saw us with the mini digger again moving tonnes of earth to create a figure of 8 course with 2 good steep decents and 2 uphill sections with a little bumpy bit on top with a small drop and some railway sleepers to create side slope effects. we then began driving the course and stubbled across a very wet boggy area of grass where we sank in so we dug it out to create a water hole which proved very popular with the young people and spectators.

Unfortunately the water hole caused some servere issues and due to the clay was getting into the alternators and forming a grinding paste which wore away the bushes causing 5 alternators to fail. This ment we had to finish the activity on the saturday evening and not re open on sunday - a massive blow but we got the cars back and repaired and set about looking how to solve the problem. Despite this we still saw nearly 800 rides!

After lots of thought and idea bouncing the simplest option was chosen - fill the hole in with rubble and so 60 tonnes of hardcore and road planeings later saw the end of the water hole and after some sculpting a new element - the elephants feet. Using lots of opposing holes around 12inches deep the opposite wheels drop in and try to cross axel the vehicle causing a rocking side to side motion which proved just as popular when we tried it at Gilwell 24 2013. 

Wintercamp 2014 saw us back in the mud, but due to the amount of rain we had had leading up to the event meant that the course was like driving on ice to start with but after lots of carefull laps it became sticky and we sunk into it which worked well. We had a team of people with shovels constantly filling in the ruts to keep the activity running and it was a success seeing over 1100 rides bringing our wintercamp total to 3100 rides :-) 

The course seems to be working and after all the rain the filled in water hole held firm which was very pleasing. There were some issues with the slipperiness which meant the up hills were a little tricky at times and the down hills became slidey but with trained drivers this wasn't an issue, using a variety of throttle techniques a standard discovery 1 on all-terrain tyres managed to keep up with defenders on muds and go everywhere they could, a testament to driver skill.