The German POWs believed that it was a primary duty to remain fit and active in order to be able to ‘serve the Fatherland’ again as soon as they were freed. They also appreciated the physical and psychological benefits of daily activity in the fresh air.
Sport was popular and most of the men participated in activities on the camp sports field. These included football, Schlagball (similar to rounders), Faustball (similar to volleyball) and basketball. A few of the men also played tennis. Athletic events included running, high jump, long jump, discus, shot put and Schleuderball (throwing a leather ball attached to a strap).
The German POWs were permitted to go on walks outside the camp, accompanied by British guards. They would have to sign a temporary parole form giving their word of honour not to escape. Walking groups would consist of up to 150 men, often split into ‘fast walkers’ and ‘slow walkers’. They would cover distances of up to 32km.
After an incident in which an iron bar was thrown at a German officer walking through the town they restricted their walks to the countryside surrounding the camp. Popular destinations included Scale House, known as ‘The Green Palace’ as it was then covered in ivy, and Embsay Moor.