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LONDON (Reuters) - Mud, music and mayhem is the epitome of the British festival - but throw in sword fighting, raft building and rabbit skinning and you've got an event that bills itself as Britain's first adventure-style camp for adults.
The first annual Questival, held over a weekend earlier this month, drew 500 attendees to an idyllic forest in Kent.
More than 700 people registered for the adults-only event, according to organisers. Tickets started at 126 pounds ($198) for weekend camping, entertainment and more than 80 adventure activities to choose from. Those included artistry, sports, expeditions, music and entertainment, science and engineering and wilderness skills.
Organisers believe Questival could become a regular alternative to the music-based events during the festival season while giving adults a chance to be kids again.
“What we've got is loads of 30-year-olds, full-grown people running around in camouflage paint, trying to find each other and do all these silly things,” said co-founder Lee Denny, 27.
“We've just wanted to do more exciting, awesome adventure stuff but not sacrificing the coolness of going to a music festival and having a massive party at the end of the night.”
“We kind of figured that kids get to do adventures all of the time,” added co-founder Julia Lowe, 30. “But adults don't.”
Taking cues from scouting in the 1950s, the festival hired actors and actresses dressed as patrol leaders who assigned campers to an animal-themed group on arrival.
Attendees were also given a handbook which included a camp code of 10 rules such as 'challenge yourself', 'abandon your distractions' and 'adventure like a child'. Using mobile phones was discouraged – and at least one camper left his at home.
“I am 51, so I am old enough to remember what it was like before all of these mobile devices,” said Steve Axtell, a support engineer from Reading. “I am therefore probably not as addicted to it as someone in their 20s. But I didn’t have a watch with me and I rely on my phone for the time these days. Next time I’ll buy a cheap watch.”
Faye Highland, a 24-year-old senior project executive from Kent, thought the “digital detox” was a good idea.
“I think it was great to just get away and not look at your phone for the whole weekend and just going back to basics,” she said.
As for the activities, Leora Guillonneau, a 21-year-old waitress and scuba-diving instructor from Scotland, was proud she got to try horse riding, kayaking, swing dancing and aerial circus and hopes the festival returns in 2016.
“It's nice to be able to kind of push yourself to do things that you wouldn't normally do,” she said. “And I think a lot of people did that.”
(This refiled version removes superfluous word in reporter's byline)
Editing by Michael Roddy and Larry King