Stewarding for Oxfam

About a month ago, I did some festival stewarding for Oxfam, something I’ve been wanting to do for ages.Two friends and I went to Camp Bestival in Dorset.

Camp Bestival is the baby brother of Isle of Wight festival, Bestival and was established by the same founder, Rob da Bank and is primarily aimed at families. We chose it as we hoped it would be more chilled out that other music festivals, plus the dates slotted in with our schedules.

Oxjam stewarding consists of volunteering for three 8 hour shifts over the course of the festival. In exchange, the festival is free to volunteers. As well as this, Oxfam stewards get their own campsite with showers, tea and coffee facilities and phone charging sockets.

One of the things we enjoyed was seeing the festival set-up before the public arrived. It was eerie on our first day, wandering around the festival site with no people around. Being a steward gives you the chance to see behind the scenes and to even go backstage (my friend and I bumped into Michaela Strachan whilst she was preparing to do a live show).

If you want to steward for Oxfam, three shifts doesn’t seem too much but be prepared that they are boring. Seriously. Our shifts just seemed to go on forever and at one point it just felt like we were walking round in circles. Also be prepared that you will not always get to see the bands that you want to see, as you can’t often get people to swap their shifts with you. We were working on the Saturday night shift so knew that we wouldn’t get the chance to see the Kaiser Chiefs, however we were blessed with a kind supervisor who let us watch the music. Sure, we were miles away from the action, but it was still a great experience dancing with a whole bunch of other stewards, especially after being on patrol for seven hours. Our poor friend was not so lucky though, as she wasn’t able to watch them at all.

Because we were on shift so much, we were determined to make the most of our free time. This involved going crazy at a silent disco until 3am, drinking daquiris, getting our faces painted and chilling out in the sun watching the acts, which included Ella Henderson, Underworld and Bob Geldof (performing one of the most haunting versions of I Don’t Like Mondays that I have ever seen). One of the loveliest things about Camp Bestival is that it closed with fireworks on the Sunday night which I thought was a particularly sweet touch and was the first time that I had come across this as a festival.

Camp Bestival itself was one of the gentler festivals. It was extremely family-friendly, with a calm vibe. It reminded me slightly of Glastonbury in that it was inclusive of all ages. At some points it did feel a little like a country fete. However, the place transformed after the sun went down, with many of the tents playing much more dancey music.

Stewarding at festivals for Oxfam is good fun and really rewarding in that you know you are doing something worthwhile. It also means you get to attend festivals for free. It’s definitely worth trying at least once.

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