This right here is not your average camping story. And let me give you a quick preview on what made it so special.
Long story short – We ended up playing survival games with the military. Seriously!
So What Got Us There?
Well, it all started several weeks ago. An idea between 8 friends to go hammock camping.
Nothing special about that, I agree. Except for the group of people that planned on going together.
It took us a few weeks to finally agree on a date that would fit everybody.
Everyone packed their bags on the day before so that we could leave right after finishing work on Friday.
Anyway, the day is finally here. Everyone leaves work. Everyone’s ready to go. Two cars, some quick shopping, back on the road.
And this is where it started to get a bit interesting.
It was getting pretty dark outside and we weren’t even there yet. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if everybody would be there to camp in hammocks and if the weather forecast wouldn’t mention some rain over the night.
(Appereantly, that’s how you set up the main rain cover)
Setting up a tent and rain covers for hammocks and for the dinner table turned out to be a great experience in the dark.
Some of us learned to do teamwork in order to complete the setup. Others struggled but eventually succeeded in working alone.
Fast forward to when everything is finally done which included starting the fire. Everyone grabbed a couple of drinks, some enjoyed the cheesecake (yes, a cheesecake, because why wouldn’t you enjoy some while camping) and had some simple dinner.
Then, while sitting around the campfire and talking about who knows what, one by one all of us slowly went to sleep.
And that was it for the first evening.
The Next Morning
…none of us had any idea of what’s to come. However, it didn’t take long for us to understand that there is going to be at least something special about the camping experience.
Simply because not long after waking up we heard a car (a pretty loud one) coming down the road (you could barely call it a road) to the campsite. Turns out it’s a truck used by Latvian Army.
And that’s when we understood that will never remember this weekend as just a normal and quiet getaway weekend.
So I won’t go into details about what we did thru out the day. It was just regular time being spent outside, away from technologies and the internet connection.
(And that’s us making pancakes. Don’t say anything!)
The day just went by while:
- Cooking pancakes in the morning
- Going for a swim in the near by river
- Gathering some wood for the fire
- Doing nothing
- Talking to the military guys
But as the evening came, things started to get interesting. This is when a couple of the military men came to us with an offer.
Ok, I have to say it right here before I forget about it.
One of them is not like an actual member of the national army or anything. He is connected to them, but what he does for living is this, he creates these real-life (sort of) survival and spy games.
Anytime you watched a Tom Cruise action movie, or better yet the Schwarzenegger in Commando and thought to yourself “Damn, I wouldn’t survive that” or “What in the world would I do if I were in that situation?”.
This is where Mr. Fox (that’s how they call him) steps in with a friendly smile and says “Want to find out?”
The guy offers these real-life scenarios from couples (good pre-wedding gift, right?) to companies for team building.
I feel like an ambassador for this guy – YOU HAVE TO TRY SOMETHING LIKE THAT AT LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFE.
Surreal yet very real.
Anyway, their offer was for us to participate in the game that the youngest ones from their camp will be playing out that night.
Without hesitation, we all agreed.
The game was supposed to start at about 1 A.M. so we still had some time together as a group that we spent by the campfire talking.
The Survival Game
I think it would be best to tell this in two parts just as the game itself was:
The team that attacks the camp
The ones from our group who decided to join this team jumped in the previously mentioned (loud) military truck and took off into the darkness. All they knew is that they will have to enter the camp without being caught.
For all of them, the short trip in the truck was an amazing experience. I mean it’s not something you get to do every day.
After driving for a while, the truck stops and they have to start walking. Remember, it is night time at this point. Pitch black darkness surrounding you and there you are, in the middle of who knows where following a group of military guys into the woods. Also crossing some private properties…But what can you do – it’s the military.
This is where for this team things get really interesting. They find out that to enter the camp they will have to cross the nearby river.
So their task is the following: Someone from the team has to swim across the river and attach a rope on the other side. When the rope is secured, the whole team has to follow across the river and enter the camp while remaining unseen.
This means they have to cross a river while fully dressed, in the middle of the night at a place, where the river’s stream is relatively strong.
It took the team some time of hiding in the dark and while waiting for a moment of opportunity to do that.
Eventually, a member of the team managed to swim across the river to attach the rope. So for them, everything was going as planned so far.
The team followed and got their clothes soaked while the girl I mentioned before had to conquer her fears and do what everyone else was doing.
At this point, I have to switch to what the other team was doing all this time.
The team that guards the camp
After the other team left the camp we still had some time to wait. So we sat around the fire and waited for the start.
I think around an hour had gone by since they left and finally, we got the call to start looking for them in order to stop them from entering the camp.
So we left our cozy place by the fire and went into the darkness for the place and the moment that they could use to enter the camp.
We didn’t have the chance to get a ride in the truck nor did we have to cross the river. However, we did cause some action around the camp.
The thing is there was another group of people in the campsite who had no idea about what was going on and by this time they were all in their tents, sleeping.
So just imagine, peacefully spending your night in the tent just to wake up from quiet voices all around your tent talking about trying to catch someone.
Not sure if any of them looked outside, but if they did, all they would have seen was several people dressed in camouflage clothing with their faces covered with masks running around, looking for something.
Sound like a fun night!
Anyway, we spent some time walking around the woods until it became clear that the other team will most likely try to enter the camp by crossing the river. So now it was all about looking over the water and finding the “enemy”.
By this time some of us had split up. But we were all brought together after when the flare lighted up the sky and made enough noise to wake up everyone who was sleeping on the campsite.
Remember the girl that was crossing the river and conquering her fear of water?
Well her boyfriend got drunk earlier on and went to sleep. So he had NO IDEA there will even be a game like this. So now he woke up from the noise and the bright light just to find out all of this was going on.
So imagine the situation:
- The flare goes off with a big noise and light.
- He jumps out the tent only to see military men running in one direction
- His girlfriend is missing
- The answers he gets regarding his girlfriend, are: “She’s gone”, “She’s in the river with others”, “The army men will take care of her”
Being still a bit tipsy, I can only imagine what went through his mind. Eventually, we calmed him down, saying that everything will be OK, there’s just a military game going on.
Perfect timing to wake up, because the game was over for our friends just because they were not as well fit, nor with the equipment needed to keep on going.
But for the young cadets the night was still young – they had to get to a certain point, get new orders and return to their starting point, once again crossing the river.
Back to Regular Camping
After all of the action, we went back to our lovely fireplace and sat down to enjoy the rest of the night.
Didn’t take too long for all of us to go to sleep after running thru the woods and crossing the river.
(I’ve got to point out, this was done at night by a girl on her own)
And basically, that was that. The next morning it was all about packing our bags and leaving, to go back to the usual everyday life.
What can we take away from all of this?
Say YES! to the opportunities that life gives you. That is where all of the best experiences come from.