“Boingy, boingy, boingy, boingy...”
The fallen tree had been there for quite a few years, but clearly part of it was still rooted, because the branch was very much alive. Every time we’d been to camp (residential trips notwithstanding), we’d ended up pitching our circle in the field next to that section of the woods.
The tree branch extending over the little stream was the most recognisable part of Epping Forest. As we grew, it stayed the same. The stream started to dry up, and ended up as little more than a trickle, but the branch remained in situ.
The years wore on, and eventually, we were all in our mid-teens when one of our number decided to shimmy along to the end of the branch.
“Hey, it’s springy here,” she said, straddling it and giving it an experimental bounce. “Boingy.”
More of us decided to join in. I’d been hesitant to do so, but on account of the fact that this was basically a conga line of friends on some wood – and we’re called Woodcraft, so it seems appropriate – I joined at the back, sandwiched between my friend-who-is-a-midwife, and Robinson, who was so far back he was almost standing on the bank.
It was incredibly springy.
“Boingy, boingy, boingy, boingy…” one of us started, and the rest of us gradually joined in. “Boingy! Boingy! BOINGY! BOI…”
I don’t know who slipped first, or what started the domino effect. The worst part was looking down and knowing we were going to fall.
One of us ended up in hospital with three stitches in her arm. The rest of us were covered in bruisy cuts, but mostly unharmed (well, we did fall into water). Despite the very short walk back to the campsite, it seemed much longer when we were all soaked. I was trying my best to style it out when it came to the girl I fancied, but I was clearly upset. We all were.
There were some comments from the adults when we got back as to how we’d just been communing with nature, and isn’t that the point of camp? Robinson, who hadn’t fallen because he was so far back, hadn’t stopped laughing for the past fifteen minutes.
We all dragged our arses to the mess tent while one of the leaders started handing out bits of the first-aid kit.
I don’t know who laughed first, or what started the domino effect. The best part was looking each other and knowing we all looked as bedraggled as each other.
Fuck those fake army recruitment ads. This is what belonging looks like.