Saturday, September 15, 2007

Kids Camp - Mt Barney National Park, Aus

Photos: (click on a photo for a larger version)

1: view from a promontory day1
2:The group. Damien the teacher LHS.
3:Mt Barney view from high camp day2
4: Day3 camp
5: Day3 climbing

Just back from a week in the field with 14 yr old kids. It all happened very quickly –I sent in my application form to the outdoor temp agency “Coefficient” in Brisbane on Mon 3 sept. 2 days later I get a call from “critter” – the nickname for the boss of coefficient. He has work for me the following Sunday, doing a recce, then Monday setting up climbs, then Tue-fri with the kids. I am happy to be working again, with so little trouble.

I get some last minute gear, including a long-coveted Icebreaker Merino wool superfine longsleeved base layer- Has the big advantage that it hardly smells at all after 5 days in the field, as opposed to synthetics like polypropylene. Also some Powerbars to keep me going towards the end of the week. And a whole batch of different sized drybags, as I sold some to my Canadian flatmates when I left Malaysia.
Gotta keep those clothes and sleeping bag dry !

So I got a greyhound down to Brisbane, then shared a car with other instructors – a guy who had been flown up from Victoria, an-ex-fireman from the UK, and an Irishman. We spent Sunday being shown around the beautiful property Near Mt Barney Nat park on the NSW northern border. Culminates in a 550m high ridge with plunging views into Mt Barney Nat. Park. Monday setup top rope climbs in a gully with 2 other instructors. Tuesday, met the kids and went to the first camp.

There were 180 of them, from St Pauls’s school in Nth Brisbane. A fairly posh school. Divided into 10 groups of 18, with 1 instructor and 1 or 2 teachers. 2 of the groups were “hard core” and went on a 2.5 day trek in Mt Barney Nat. Park. The rest of us rotated campsites every evening and did a variety of activities during the day:

Walking up hills eg: 2hrs up a steep hill to the highest camp with tremendous views. Had a girl collapse – probably overheating/underdrinking, pulled her off the ground into a sitting position and poured water over her, which calmed her down. Then went slowly back up. Had fires almost every evening – very pleasant, Sang French songs I had brought along – which they enjoyed. Also duet of “Desperado” with the teacher. Listened to two girls harmonizing beautifully. Got them Abseiling 40m down, mountain biking at high speed, doing the climbs in the gully, doing high ropes and a flying fox, and low ropes over a dam. We had food and water at the campsites. They carried freeze dried meals, which were quite tasty, and cooked on army-style Hexamine solid-fuel stoves.

We had wonderful weather – sharp winter sun, with a cool refreshing breeze, rarely really hot, but quite a bit of glare. I was wondering how I would cope with Aussie kids, but it turned out quite well. They were hard to quieten down the first evening, but after that, calmed down, listened to briefings, and got to bed early as they were tired. Showed quite a bit of initiative – getting the fire going, packing in the morning after breakfast without being asked. Had to be reined in during the walks, as some of the boys really plowed ahead and we needed to keep the group together. Had to prompted to clean up packages after meals, each time.

I got good feedback from the teacher (ex-PE teacher, now head of middle school), who said I was a good instructor. Also the kids, who were surprised I had only been a leader for 6 months and said I was good. Always good to hear… and be appreciated for one’s skills and personality and effort.

On the last day they gave me 3 hip-hip hurrays, and I shook hands all around. I’ll be posting up the photos I took on “yahoo photos” and emailing the weblink to the teacher, who will give it to the kids.

Also got well paid – Coefficient has the highest rates in Australia. Thanks to enterprise bargaining, "Critter" sat down with the staff and setup different pay rates: You get paid different rates depending on the hours worked in the day, which is a nice change. Cause the days with the kids are 6 or 7 am till 10 pm or so (15 hrs). Arrived back in Noosa at 830 pm after 2 hours in a car, plus 2.5 hours in a Greyhound. A bit tired saturday, but less wear than during the Malaysian program. Less hot, plus less tiring logistics involved., plus the kids are more fun, as they are not shy and have more initiative.

More work next Mon and Tues, at an outdoor center 30 minutes south of Noosa. Monday, walking year 11 kids up Mt Coolum twice. I love going uphill with a pack - yay ! life's good.

Below: click on the arrow to play a video !

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