The best thing we can do is to make wherever we’re lost in look as much like home as we can.
Christopher Fry 1907– , English dramatist
The Lady’s not for Burning (1949) act 3
Mangrove Mountain didn’t look much like home, apart from the trees and ferns, and I didn’t really get lost. Well, not for long anyway, though I did feel it without my little boys. Yet, the camp was a great success! It went even better than I or any of the other teachers imagined. Our usually rowdy Year group of 60 boys and 20 girls behaved themselves very well, rogues that they are! We had a great time.
We took part in heaps of adventure activities such as the High Ropes course, Flying Fox, Giant Swing, Abseiling, Bush Walking and Archery. All of these things tuckered our young charges out and ensured that we all had a great time together. My personal favourite was the giant swing (you can look at some footage of it here) which swung very high and very fast. A young fella in my group (I had a group of 11 students) and I set each other the challenge of going on every activity we could upside-down, just for fun. The camp leaders wouldn’t let us abseil over the wall forwards – our equivalent of backwards, since it is usual to go over backwards – so we didn’t achieve the challenge for that activity, however, we did manage to ride the Flying Fox and the Giant Swing upside-down, without hands. Archery was a little tricky to perform upside-down so we figured left handed would do, but somehow it lacked the excitement of rushing through the air at high speeds. Perhaps it would have been if we were on horse back shooting arrows at villains or some such dastardly creatures. My arrows kept ricocheting off the target forcing me to hunt for them in the bush. I am not a very good archer. Still, it was heaps of fun!
We went bush walking, which should really have been called bush strolling, and I got to use the CB radio because I was good at saying “…Over.” The teacher leading us was very cute in his lack of bush walking experience and kept alerting us to things such as spiders on nondescript leaves by the side of the path – spiders that were long gone by the time we made it to the place they were meant to be. We even got ‘lost’ for a good two minutes as our leader encountered a dead end as a tree had fallen over the path and blocked the way forward. The problem was rectified as we suggested looking over he tree to see if the path continued on the other side. It did. We walked on expecting to come to a huge trunk we would have to scramble over. We came to a place where there were a few twigs across the path and figured that must have been our road block. Without having to raise our knees we continued on. He was a very cautious leader who provided the teachers at the back of the line and the camp leaders back at base with much entertainment throughout the brief trek. With the many ‘warnings’ received I also had ample opportunity to say, “Roger that. Will alert the troops. Over.”
One of the best things about camp was being able to relate to the students over a period of a few days. I have a soft spot for the struggling and hurting kids, of which there are a few in any year, and I enjoyed being able to sit down and chat with them about movies they watch, music they listen to, boys/girls they like, things that worry them, books they love to read, the necessity of having at least three different lip glosses at any one time – you know, all the important things.
It was also great to be able to encourage students at the things they are good at. Some of the students who struggle in the classroom were completely in their element outside. Some brought their instruments and gave concerts during free time. We had some really great musicians on camp – if hardcore’s your thing. Heh, heh! The students even inspired some of the teachers – not me, I’m not that hardcore – to join the moshpit.
We studied the beatitudes and the kids came to see the importance and strength of being meek and merciful. One of the girls who was adamantly anti-Christian before camp realised that without her sister being able to show her mercy when they fought, they would never have a good friendship and her life would be so much worse because of the broken relationship. How close is that to understanding the heart of the gospel?
After the fun of camp my heart sunk as I came home to an empty house. My little boys were out with my mum. They came home soon enough and flew into my arms giving me the biggest hugs in the world. It was good to be home. Tired and cranky, I had a bath and fell into bed early. I am glad to be home yet I look forward to returning to school and continuing the conversations I have started with students on camp. If you think to, pray for these kids. I am always astounded by how much children have to deal with in life. Pray that they will come to know that Jesus is the best thing they can learn about while at school and indeed, forever. Pray that I can teach them so that wherever they are lost they will be able to find their way home in Christ.