Everyone was saying that the Yr 9 camp is the toughest one of all of them- and now I have to admit that this comment is true.
Not only the organization and the preparation were much more work than usual, the main staff people had to go on camp two days earlier to prepare everything, to set up the ropes for the climbing and abseiling part and to get the food to the different camp sites in different areas. Lexi got sick two days before we left on camp. This was really a shame, because it was a lot of work coming up and we were short on female staff.
On the first day we had to pack all the food (for around 100 kids) on trailers and drove it to the survival campsite, where we slept the first two nights without the children. We went out for dinner in Hidden Valley, this is the only time of the year, where it’s allowed to eat in a restaurant during a camp. The food was really tasty.
All the next day, I helped Kerine, who is responsible for all the climbing and abseiling work. Getting all the climbing gear on the top of the gorge, was really hard work, but it was such a beautiful place. The whole camp is taking place on a private property, where the school has a special admission. That’s the reason why the entirely area is deserted, peaceful and quite. After finishing all the climbing stuff, we had time for abseiling. It was so much fun and a little bit scary too, to push yourself away from the wall like Spiderman.
On the next day the actual camp started. Because of two less female staff, I had to join another group every second day. My first two days were with a group of 20 kids and two funny teachers, who joked the whole time and made me laugh. We walked 6 km to our first campsite where we stayed over night. On this camp the kids weren’t together with their familiar class and friends. They had to work in groups with people they perhaps normally ignore or never recognized before. Through this technique the school tries to prevent bullying and encourage teamwork.
The second day was the biggest hiking day. We had to navigate ourselves to the next campsite. We used a compass, a GPS and a map to help. The way was cross-country, so much more exciting then walking for hours on a road, even it was sometimes a really rough way. In the late afternoon we arrived after 22 km walking our destination.
Dave drove me directly to my next camp group, with whom I hiked again for the next couple of days. Because of all my group changes I never had a longer rest- and I have done more than one big hike. I got many blisters and I regretted bringing so many clothes because I had to carry them in my bag … but during cold nights I was happy to put on a second jumper. The camp was not only a challenge for the kids- it was challenging me too. After a long day of walking, the beautiful and peaceful campsites help to forget your sore feet and back.
On most of the camping places was the food arranged in tents. For two days every group had to walk through the gorge. The distances were shorter, but the “way” was rough and not easy to manage with a heavy backpack. Additionally people had to carry their own food for two days. The kids cooked in small groups over this time. I liked the small group cooking because it was to observe that all the kids worked together and no one was sitting lazy around and let the others do the work.
My favourite campsite was the survival place, which had a lot of different activities. The kids had to build a raft to get their backpacks dry to the other river side. I really enjoyed the climbing and abseiling work. Kerine, the supervisor of this activity, had done a great job and almost every child went abseiling. It was interesting to see how different children behave and cope in a stress situation. Kerine had the this ability to get every child to its limit. I loved to help him.
Every group had one survival night. The kids were divided into girls and boys. Every group had two hours to build with wood, sticks or whatever they were able to find, their own sleeping place. Aside from that, they had to collect firewood, which should be enough for the whole night. It is the only night where the kids were isolated from everyone else and their sleeping place was around 200 metres away from the stuff campsite. Every child was allowed to bring their sleeping bag, their torch and a raw potato. Their challenge was to work as a group together and keep the fire going all night. Every two hours one staff person had to check that the fire is going- if not, they would lose the challenge.
This camp was a great opportunity to find out about their kid’s strength and weaknesses, about their teamwork, about their limits and fears. I think this camp helped many children to understand a little bit more about themselves and their effects of the environment.
I’d like to mention one child, from this camp who is autistic and many teachers had doubts that he would be able to do the whole camp. He is a wonderful child, always polite and helpful and thinking about everyone else. His name is Lachlan and he has done a fabulous job on camp. Sometimes he got nervous if he couldn’t find his stuff, but he learned to get over something. It was amazing that he has done the abseiling. Kerin went down with him together and always encouraged him. “You are bigger than the mountain, you’re bigger than the mountain”.
While Lachlan was standing on the bottom next to the 30 meter abseiling, he said to me: “Jule, now I can do everything what I want.” I smiled: “Yes Lachlan- everything is possible for you! Good job!”
I will never forget this situation- it will always reminds me that everything is possible in life, we only need the courage to go the next step.