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News > Rugby School News > Rugby School Student, Clara, reflects on her experience with the Great Tommy Sleepout

Rugby School Student, Clara, reflects on her experience with the Great Tommy Sleepout

March is not a month typically associated with cozy camping trips and warm nights, but if 6000 homeless veterans in the UK put up with the elements every night, we figured our valiant troop of NCO’s could do it for 1. 

So, 16 of us trekked out to Bilton Grange for an evening of running around in the dark, complete with tactical exercises, a very threatening enemy, and comms interception. We were split into 3 units, all with a different order in which to complete 3 missions: Retrieve intelligence from a (wrongly indicated) location on the map, listen in to enemy communications, and stalk an enemy base. 

The most thrilling event of the night was undoubtedly the stalk : getting anywhere near to the enemy was made difficult by a layer of unreasonably loud crunchy leaves, and we were forced to be inventive (namedly Douglas lobbing planks of wood at trees to create auditory distractions so the unit could retreat). Once back at the Forward Operating Base, however, we were able to regroup and identify the coded location for our final stash : marshmallows and digestives! 

We eventually hunkered down for the night in our bashas, and drifted off to sleep. It was cold, we were tired, and it seemed like heavenly respite, until around 3 am. I woke up, as I know a few others did, in the middle of the night - and remembered why we were doing this. The basha’s did little against the wind, which had now turned, and there was no real option but to pull the sleeping bag tight and wait to fall asleep again. 

The next morning, a very tired bunch of cadets crowded onto a bus, and we gladly headed back to our heated houses and warm showers. I, for one, will try and be more mindful the next time I take those for granted. 

Written by Clara, Current Student at Rugby School 

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