When bootcampers take over the bootcamp

What happens when the bootcampers take over the bootcamp?

Well, I can say what happened until Tuesday, just half the week. Then off to London to see family, so I’m allowed to write in English.

It started even before our formal welcome to bootcamp meeting on Sunday with a good eight of us breakfasting together on Saturday.

Sunday 11am, ish. 25(?) of us met in the Galeri to plot and plan and lay down some ground rules.

  1. Make sure you text Bob
  2. Put everything on the Bŵtsapp WhatsApp group.
  3. Make sure no one gets left out

In the end Bob and his old phone could join WhatsApp and we didn’t need to text him. Or the other Bob, or Bobi. Two Marks as well.

I’d said, here on the forum, before hand, that I wanted to go up Snowdon, and 12 others were foolish enough to come with me. Monday morning and an 8am start, which was stretched by only a few minutes. Three cars, 13 people, drive to Llanberis, bus to Pen y Pass. 7 hours later we were back at the cars with some of us having muscles and joints aching even more than mine. I got to see a lot of @Gog’s feet because I knew they knew where they were going! Very glad I brought my trusty staff with me.

But again, before 12.30 on the Sunday, 2 cars full of bootcampers had arranged for a 1.30 start for a visit to Nant Gwrtheyrn the very same day. Somehow Tafarn y Fic didn’t come off, but I now know the layout of the land for a further visit. Very glad I wasn’t driving down that really steep hill to get there. Cafe after our wanderings for drinks or snacks or meals.

Sunday evening and three or four had booked for the Bachgen Du. Despite being the end of half term it was still packed and the other 8 or so of us who turned up were squeezed into the corners we could find. A younger person, not coming on the Yr Wyddfa trip, lamented it was leaving so early, as 8am was still sleeping time. Hey Ho. Time to catch up on old friends and begin to make new ones.

On the Monday evening, after yr Wyddfa, and a well deserved shower (why do hostels never have baths?) and quite a lot of to and fro on WhatsApp about where was good to eat, who supported the Welsh language, who was open on a Monday night, about 8 of us met together in Tŷ Castell to eat a very filling meal before going on to the Royal Welsh Yacht Club where the magic of the Moebius Band was revealed to the uninitiated. Someone described how they felt the Uwch course they were doing was a waste of time.

Tuesday saw two of us breakfasting in Yr Wal and three more turning up to cross the bridge to Ynys Môn and Oriel Môn. The Kyffin Williams pictures (point to note, while he lived in London he stayed with the GP mother of a friend of my mother’s, during term) were fairly well hidden but there were some beautiful tapestries to see, quite a lot, in fact. We were back in town in just enough time for me to collect my rain jacket and be at the castle for 1pm. Eight of us, but we split up pretty quickly. While waiting at the bus stop in Llanberis on Monday I saw Bob giving someone the hard sell about SSIW and Lorna did the same at the castle. I was disappointed by a pretty one sided approach to more recent Welsh history and monarchy at the castle, while not at all claiming to be a republican. The one book I saw, by Myrddin Ap Dafydd, was only in English but a quick gwgl found it was also available in Welsh. How could it not be, the work of the prifardd? So off to Palas Print where I couldn’t find it, but it was in stock and I bought the last copy.

A couple of hours before the next meet up and the plan was to have a nap. I’d been swimming early in the morning in the nice, but shallow at the shallow end, pool on the outskirts of town. When the Gog at the desk spoke to me in English I genuinely couldn’t understand what he was saying! Nap postponed by doing a short interview to camera with @Sylv about my motivations for learning Welsh.

Two hours later and she was still interviewing at a house some of the others were sharing for the week and the lovely Peter had prepared Vegan food as a main course, and for afters we were ‘ymshocledu’ ed. Not vegan at all. Games requiring talking to others. A little too much alcohol by a few of us, keeping things merry but not boisterous.

And then it was Wednesday and I had to leave. I’ve only described the stuff I actually did. There were more cups of tea, a trip to Llanberis not requiring an assault on Yr Wyddfa, trips on a steam train, a drink or three in various pubs and other stuff I didn’t get to hear about.

But that’s what can happen, when bootcampers take over the bootcamp.


A really interesting report - diolch Margaret! My impression (sadly from afar :slightly_frowning_face:, Sunday excepted) is that the post-parti self-organising bootcamp has been a tremendous success. It suggests that might well be scope to have more of ‘alternative’ bootcamps which would be great for those who haven’t been lucky enough to get a place on a regular SSiW bootcamp (or just want more bootcamping :slightly_smiling_face:). Caernarfon’s been a great place to hold this but perhaps Aberystwyth or Bangor could provide other options?


This was much bigger and more unwieldy than a regular bootcamp. There was/is at least one person for whom this is a first bootcamp and I’m sure they were/are struggling. There are quite a lot of very confident Welsh speakers and I think the struggler has felt quite overwhelmed. Which is normal, from my experience at regular bootcamp, but harder to reassure in such a large group.

I tried to get to everything I could, or do everything I wanted, being aware of the shortness of time. I chose, I suppose, to have less ‘down time’ than usual.

The ‘spreadoutness’ of accommodation, even though almost everyone was within 10 minutes walk of each other, meant that we couldn’t really be aware of where everyone was or what they were doing so there was an increased risk of people being left out.

Just my tuppence worth.


WhatsAp seemed to work quite well though as a communication device, as @aran had suggested, but maybe there needed to be someone to act as a ‘WhatsAp’ monitor to ensure that those who didn’t use or have access to WhatsAp were aware of what was going on.

Yes, that can be a problem in large groups, but perhaps for each of those who feel they are, or might be, struggling there could be some nominated supporter to provide help and reassurance?
Another issue might have been that many of the WhatsAp messages have been in Welsh, rather than English or Welsh+English, which is great but it could well have resulted in those lacking in confidence in their Welsh feeling a bit left out of things


I was desperately disappointed only to be able to stay for one day (Sunday) of the alternative Bwtcamp, but for me in many ways it was the best bit of the weekend. The camaraderie, the immersion yn y Gymraeg, the chance to ymarfer siarad in the wild with real Welsh speakers - the warmth of welcome from Cofis (Caernarfon folk) … all things I shall carry in my heart for a long time and really really hope to get the chance to do again.

After the big meeting on Sunday morning ( yn falch iawn ohoni fy hun to understand everything Aran said to us yn y Gymraeg!) I ended up going for lunch with a big, more or less accidental group at Cafe Maes - ordering food successfully in Welsh. Then over to the castle for a long afternoon climbing lots of stairs in lots of towers and enjoying spectacular views in the sun and wind while holding conversations with lots of other SSiWers as groups formed and reformed.

Then dinner at the Bachgen Du, again interacting with staff in Welsh and having long and varied conversations with the big group of SSiWers that ended up there. Oh and selling SSiW to a couple who joined our crowded table - a guy from South Wales who regretted never learning and his English wife (the only time I spoke a whole sentence in English all day).

And so, as Samuel Pepys would say, to bed and a sad departure on Monday morning.

I so very much hope there will be a chance to repeat this joyous, shared experience of using Welsh!


Thank you for sharing this! I hope lots of others will share their alternative bwtcamp experience - with photos!


I think having a ‘buddy system’ to support those who feel a bit less confident sounds like an excellent idea.


As far as I was aware everyone on the bootcamp was/is in the Whatsapp group. I wasn’t told about anyone else. Granted the Bŵtsapp was/is very busy and cunfusion is very easy but on the whole I think it worked/is working very well.


I was thinking back to the initial meeting on Sunday where I’d half remembered @siaronjames saying she didn’t use WhatsAp, but that was all, so maybe I should have put an ‘if’ in there somewhere. I do agree though that the Bwtsapp arrangement did indeed work pretty well as far as I could see.


You’re right John, I did say that and I’m not on WhatsApp, but I wasn’t an official bootcamper either! Texts worked fine for me, but I can see they would be more of a nuisance if lots more people needed to get messages that way.


Ah, now the mists clear! :slightly_smiling_face: Diolch, Sharon!


Just to say that I have found my mobile data service has sometimes delivered What’s App messages too late for them to be useful. Sometimes no one remembered to put anything (e.g. about a detail of significance like meeting place & time) on to the What’s App in English, or in enough detail to be clear. I was guilty of that. I got by through bumping into people and demanding to know Beth sy’n digwydd? Etc Luckily someone always seem to come along in time!


Those of us sharing a house with @gruntius can confirm that there was a WhatsApp monitor, and he worked very hard to make sure no-one was left out. (It’s all fallen apart now he’s gone, of course. Bwtcampers wandering around in a daze everywhere… :wink:)


Ah, diolch @Isata - maybe I was misinterpreting what @margaretnock was saying as implying an issue with how BwtsAp was working - I hadn’t realised @gruntius was beavering away on that - sorry Geraint!


Ha, I don’t believe you for a second but thank you, I’m missing your sense of humour. :grinning: :joy:


It worked, in that lots of things were suggested and arranged and a good time was had by all, but I couldn’t have told you what other people were doing when I was having my adventures.

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Was that a function of WhatsApp, or of the group size?

I’d decided long ago when I initially booked, that I’d just stay for the weekend. After arriving, I booked an extra night on Sunday and after that, planned to spend some time in Porthmadog with my brother doing a bit of cycling etc. So, not really a proper ‘bootcamper’. On Sunday morning I headed into town, and fortunately, bumped into Kate and Bobi who were on their way to the Galeri for a ‘Bwtcamp meetup’. Well why not! I spent a lovely day in town, in the cafe, then up and around the Castell, mainly with Catriona who (Chwarae teg), joined me climbing nearly all of the towers!, and afterwards in the Bachgen Du. I joined the Bwtsapp group and spent Monday on a blustery walk up Yr Wyddfa. Familiar territory for me, but great to enjoy it with fellow Bwtcampers! I discovered the benefits of walking backwards down the tarmac once nearly back down at Llanberis! (Saves the knees). Sounds crazy, but it seemed to work, although I’m not sure what passing walkers thought of us. The following day, I cycled from Porthmadog to Nant Gwrtheyrn. (and back) with my brother. The last time I was there in the 70’s, it was still an abandoned village. We talked to a walker (whilst pushing our bikes back up the steep slope out of the ‘village’), and I suggested he try walking backwards down the hill. He seemed rather reluctant at first, but gave it a go, and I was pleased to hear him exclaim ‘absolutely splendid’, as he disappeared round the corner!. The following day, I noticed that some of the group were planning to cycle to ‘Pant Du’, so we elected to try and meet up unannounced to join them for a coffee, which we did. My brother speaks just a few words of Welsh, but he enjoyed the chance to meet the group, and I hope to get him started with SSIW. I got myself an invite to the Meal back in Caernarfon the following evening (my brother having departed for home), and what a super meal it was. Thanks to all who helped in the preparation, especially Rohini. I enjoyed the chance to chat again in Welsh, especially with Esme during the meal, and afterwards as we strolled around listening to music outside the Anglesey. So all in all, although a ‘part time bwtcamper’, I felt I had a great week, Thanks to everyone, well, just for being there so I could ‘dip in and out’. What a treat.


As one of the non-WhatsAp folk, by way of some ‘gentle feedback’—I confess, Andrew and I felt ‘out of it’ on the Sunday, particularly when we went for a coffee at the Galeri late morning after wandering around Caernarfon by ourselves, then realized there was a SSiW get-together (pre-Bootcamp?) which we would have loved to have joined—especially after coming all the way from Vancouver. We could hear the laughter and sense the camaraderie, but felt we would be intruding as non-Bootcampers.

Fortunately, having finished our coffee just as the group broke-up, we did manage to say farewell to a couple of lovely people we had met at the Parti. Also, having managed to get in contact with a very dear SSiW friend via email/phone who was unable to attend the Parti—bless her, she promptly drove right across N. Wales to join us for afternoon tea. We had never met face-to-face, yet she has been my mentor and friend, not only on Welsh, but hearing devices, artwork and so much more ever since I joined SSiW. That was absolutely magical—the icing on the cake after a wonderful Parti.

It was well worth the trip, but being long-distance travellers who had to make arrangements months in advance, sadly, we didn’t have the same flexibility to be able to take advantage of the wonderful activities that evolved, so missed out.

As SSiW goes from strength to strength and enjoys all the success it so richly deserves, there may be more of the ‘diaspora’ travelling to events in future—I certainly hope so, and would be happy to help in any way that would help them.

Thank you for ‘listening’ and thank you for a great Parti!

Mari (and Andrew)


It’s a bit late to say so, but you would have been very welcome, even just to that meeting. There were others who were there by accident, got themselves added to the WhatsApp group and went straight home because that was their plan all along… I’m very sorry we weren’t aware enough of others in the Cafe. Sori iawn.