When I was ten, I went on an adventure to Ogmore-by-Sea’s residential school camp with most of the kids in my class, to become a Young Investigator. The coastal village was only about thirty miles away but it was so different from Caerphilly, the valleys town in which I lived at the time, that it seemed like a trip to a foreign country.
I have distant but fond memories of newly-found detective skills, sheep roaming the streets, learning that I was terrified of caving, sharing chores in the dining hall, spending all my pocket money in the local shop on midnight feast supplies and sleeping bag races. It was all very Famous Five. My favourite recollection is of crossing the stepping stones near Ogmore Castle then running down the huge sand-dunes at Merthyr Mawr with around twenty of my classmates, shouting out Eddy Grant’s song Give Me Hope Joanna as we ran (God knows why!) and screaming with glee. I’ve still got my Young Investigator’s badge.
A year later, I revisited the camp with my violin in tow on an orchestra trip, which was a completely different experience. The Enid Blyton-style fun of midnight feasts and sleeping bag races was still there but with the added excitement of learning some orchestral arrangements, to perform in a concert at the end of the week for our parents. I can’t remember all the pieces of music we learnt but Beethoven’s Ode to Joy was one. Another was Brass on Parade; we rebels in the string section all crossed out enough letters on our music sheets so that it read ‘Ass Rade’, which was of course hilarious to a bunch of eleven-year-olds. We were so proud as we performed our concert, though.
The camp closed several years ago and although the buildings are still there, I’ve read that the land is going to be developed into residential houses, which is a shame. It was a wonderful place.
Do any Welsh readers have memories of staying at Ogmore-by-Sea residential school camp?