Monthly Parenting Magazine

An off-grid summer camp in Cornwall

Cornwall Summer Camp

A 200-acre estate just outside Truro is the setting for a summer camp which is totally off-grid and offers everything from blacksmithing to tree-climbing

Words Holly Kirkwood 

Camp Kernow, a pioneering off-grid summer camp is powering up for its fourth year this summer, delivering exhilarating environmental adventures for young people in the heart of Cornwall.

Suitable for 7 to 14 year olds, the camp says it’s the only carbon neutral activity centre in the UK, and has the aim of helping the younger generation to understand and experience a new way of living.

Using renewable energy and sustainable technology including composting toilets, reed-beds, a solar powered water pumping and filtration system and solar thermal heated showers, it’s a departure for most little ones, and intended to be a fun exploration of what’s possible if you jump off the grid of your usual consumption habits.

Located just outside Truro, the camp sits in a two hundred acre estate of woodland, streams, lakes and organic farmland, providing a haven for wildlife as well as an endless playground for happy campers to explore and play in.

Activities including foraging, archery, kayaking, technical tree climbing, bat detecting, eco energy workshops, animal tracking, shelter building, tuffet weaving, silk screen printing, leatherwork and stone carving, to name a few, but the list goes on.

Charlie Nicholson, who founded Camp Kernow explains:  “We have created a packed programme of activities, from forging a toasting fork for marshmallows with a local blacksmith to ascending into the canopy of a Beech Tree on a technical tree climbing workshop.

“The idea is to educate young people about sustainability and the natural environment through hands-on experience, adventure and exploration. The thrill of seeing a badger for the first time, hearing the screech of a barn owl pierce the night silence or waking up to the sound of a Curlew calling out across the river is not to be underestimated. We hope that many will leave with memories that will be with them forever.”

Provision for sleeping eschews the traditional tent, in favour of low impact timber/canvas structures including yurts, tipis, geo-domes, bell tents and even an upturned boat hull.

Home cooked meals are served up by the children who take turns to harvest and prepare ingredients under the supervision of Charlie and his team in their well-equipped field kitchen. Fruit and vegetables grown at the camp are supplemented with locally sourced produce to create delicious meals cooked over the campfire, in the pizza oven or in the kitchen where fellow campers also take turns to wash up.

Charlie and Claire are joined in their work by a team of experts in the fields of foraging, bushcraft, primitive skills, ecology and traditional crafts.

The residential camps range from 3 to 6 days in duration with 2017 dates from 9-25 August.

The three day camp costs £260 and the six day camp, £495.

Supporting sustainability, children are encouraged to travel to and from camp on train, bus, coach or even boat.

A representative from Camp Kernow can meet children at London Paddington station, escorting them on their train journey to the camp and escorting them back to London too if their parents wish.

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