In the second week of the Easter holidays, the boys of BOOM (UDB's Perry-Common-based lads' group) took a trip into the wilderness of Lickey Hills. What follows is a blow-by-blow account of their adventure.
In a full minibus bound for Lickey Hills, Ashley is running me through the different Pokemon he has collected on his Nintendo DS so far. I must have been the only child born in the 90s to have never played Pokemon, but I’m caching up fast. His charizard is evolving.
Ryan is busy chatting to Sam about whether Aston Villa will get double-relegated next season or not. Aaron and I discuss which restaurant we would eat at if we could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of our lives. Aaron picks KFC, I opt for Wagamama’s.
Journeying through the countryside, we compare urban and rural life. Ashley likes the idea of keeping animals, but not if there isn’t a Computer Exchange store nearby.
Having driven in glorious sunshine for almost an hour, we open our packed lunches and the rain pours down. Andy and Liam push two picnic benches together so we can sit as a group, but the BOOM boys disperse equally between the other 4 tables.
After lunch I go back to the minibus to pick up the archery kit and Liam visits Lickey’s toilet facilities. We return to find Andy sitting on a bench and the boys flinging handfuls of mud at each other. The battle ends when Josh flings a cheap shot at Kane, leaving him with an earful of mud. “I think that one was poo”, says Aaron.
Liam introduces the first challenge – an extreme game of country park hide-and-seek. Ashley, Taro and Cameron are so well camouflaged that we have trouble persuading them that the challenge is over and they can now reveal themselves. In an attempt to remain hidden, Kane has covered himself in mud from his knees to his toes. We walk on.
At this point in the trip, Sam develops something of an obsession for squirrels. He wants to catch a squirrel, so he can take it home and keep it as a pet. From this point on, the trip is regularly punctuated by cries of “squirrel!”
We set up the archery challenge. The boys are budding Robin Hoods, particularly Taro, who manages to shoot one arrow through two hoops, to his teammates’ applause. One arrow gets lost in a bush.
Onto the next challenge! One team member with full use of their sight must guide their blindfolded partner over a series of obstacles – a bridge, a log, a river, a rope swing to safety in the quickest time possible.
Zach dwells on ‘the quickest time possible’ rather than ‘to safety’ and his partner is almost drowned, crushed and mauled to death by wild bears in the process. They cross the finish in an impressive time of 4 minutes 40 seconds.
After almost catching a squirrel, we arrive at the final challenge – building a shelter using only natural materials. Liam has brought along some unnatural bin-bags for waterproofing, but Team 2 ignores these, seeing them as an easy option.
Both teams build impressive looking dens. Team 1’s is rather cramped, but well waterproofed. Team 2 had a very spacious den, but we understood the importance of the bin bags when Liam poured water on the den, soaking Taro.
Our muddy feet wrapped in bin bags, we clamber aboard the minibus. A combination of tiredness, the enclosed space and Liam’s satnav taking the most obscure route back to Perry Common takes its toll. Ashley thinks he can see the Eiffel Tower out the window, but its just Birmingham’s BT Tower.
Will Sam ever catch his squirrel? What will the lads make of the first Lord of the Rings film? What exactly is the difference between doner meat and red doner meat? Find out in part 2, coming soon...