Based on the previous success of Zombie Survival Weekender for adults the first Youth and Family event took place the weekend of August 22nd-23rd. Promising to be great psychologically and suitable for children of all ages we went to found out more about it.
Youth and Family Zombie Survival Location
Set in Eglwysilan Mountain, Wales, it should have been obvious that the place would be wet and hilly. In fact for hills it wasn’t too bad (if you drove there) apart from the fact that the car park was across a field and up a reasonably steep hill from where the campsite was. Saying that the hills were not too much for the boys and it was mainly the inconvenience of getting our stuff up and down. The organiser, Dom, was very helpful and helped us carry stuff down when we arrived and would have helped us back up if requested I am sure. As for the rain, well as the campsite was just a field and portaloo I personally was quite grateful for the rainwater to wash in!
Youth and Family Zombie Survival Suitability for Children
This event was just perfect for children. The children at the campsite made friends with each other very quickly. Then we were taken through a series of team-building exercises and mini games, survival techniques and skills – whilst building a small community. It was lovely to see complete strangers (for the most part) be so kind to one another: sharing, helping, imparting wisdom. By the time it was the zombie game everyone had each other’s trust. There was a real sense that no-one would let any harm come to each other. Children knew they had nothing to be scared of. I personally have a fear of things happening to my children, have no sense of direction, hate not seeing that well, and getting lost in the dark – but happily let my 7 year old son play in the woods (with me by his side) until midnight!!
Again the games were not only good for building up trust within the team, and a sense of unity, but great fun, good exercise and great for boasting confidence – as well as teaching basic survival skills that maybe required during a Zombie Apocalypse. There was homework set which involved putting together a family survival kit, drawing a picture of your biggest fear and explaining why and for the older children there was a survival skill sharing task whereby you were expected to talk for approximately 20 minutes. It was so lovely to see the children sharing these things – great for confidence, public speaking/good for overcoming nervousness, develop thinking/writing/presentation skills and creativity.
Obviously if your children are not used to wild camping then the lack of running water and wash facilities may be an issue. There is a pub at the top of the hill but to be honest they weren’t that friendly in there. There is a small play area next to it too. Again you are surrounded by sheep (and there is a donkey) but neither caused any harm – unless you count the donkey’s 7am wake up call. There are some other safety issues that the organiser is aware of such as the broken gate to access the field (however everyone is warned about it). Dom was quick to adjust the weekend to the needs of the people and the situation at the time (on our case because it rained a lot).
The Zombie Survival Game
The game itself was really good in that one person was infected as a Zombie (who we had all spent the day with) and he had to try and catch us. We were taken on a safe walk around the game area whilst it was still light and it was modified to accommodate the players’ needs and the weather conditions. Several areas were clearly marked so that they were not accidentally crossed. There were 7 marshals in hi vis jackets who each had a walkie talkie. There were lights at the mini-game stations which also meant the marshals were easier to find. Before the game began a million and one questions were asked (and some asked again and again) and Dom very patiently answered them all until everyone was very clear and very comfortable with the game – including what to do in an emergency and how we could leave the game. There were regularly hourly breaks which ensured that everyone is safe, there was a list of who was in the game and I regularly heard Dom via radios checking that people had been seen at various points to check that they were safe. Within the game were further mini games to help win points for the players’ teams. There was also one mini-game that you could still play as a Zombie not just as a human. We were turned into Zombies by using Snazaroo face-paint and a bit of sugar blood (it was too wet for the latex). Again nothing about it was scary, and in fact it was really too dark by the time people had been caught and turned into Zombies to notice unless you were close up (and then you realised it was just the person you had spent the day with).
Conclusion of the Youth and Family Zombie Survival
The main thing is that everyone had fun. The boys can’t wait to do it again next year. It is to be expected that there were some teething issues it being the first time it has been run as a Youth and Family Event but I think that the organiser handled them really well. Our family are personally really novice campers and we learnt so much (such as adding petroleum jelly to our cotton wool will help even more with our fire in the rain!). It gave me confidence to ask questions that I would have otherwise felt too silly to ask (like do I just spit my toothpaste out onto the floor?!). The event was accessed by public transport by a couple of families and our satnav took us there with no problems. I missed most of the activities the next day but we had a big tent (and far too much stuff) and so I made the decision to start packing. I am not sure how the mini games would have been suitable if children younger than 4 came – but this may have been demonstrated if they were there.
I would like to see all the children being asked to talk about their skills (but not call it homework) and a prize (even a bar of chocolate) given to the best one. As I say I think the task did so much for personal development I think this should be offered to the younger children. Ideally a location where we do not have to carry our stuff so far – but realise that this would have a big cost implication. I think setting up the tent the night before would have also been helpful.
We were invited to the Zombie Survival Weekend Youth and Family for purposes of review. All words and opinions are my own.