Which is the Class 2 camp I went on with darling daughter last week! Three blissful days at Woody Head, which is near Iluka on the northern coast of New South Wales. Practically Queensland, in fact.
Woody Head camping ground is slap in the middle of Bundjalong National Park, and has kilometres of pristine beaches, safe swimming areas and shallow snorkelling so it's perfect for kids. There's also a fabulous rock platform with deeeeeep rock pools, places to fish, a kiosk that serves decent coffee and it's clean. It's so good, in fact, that I've picked up the brochure and plan to spend some time up there with my family.
The whole thing was new to me: I am unfamiliar with Australia's National Parks, know nothing about that part of the coastline, have never been to a formal camping ground and I've never taken 20 children (5 of whom have special needs of one sort or another) away for three days before... on Tuesday evening before we left I was seriously asking myself WHAT WAS I THINKING? I mean, I'd only got off a plane a few days beforehand!
In fact it was really good fun, if very hard work. Ruth, the class teacher, is amazing: calm, well-prepared, doesn't need to raise her voice, and completely organised. Also, we weren't in tents but were staying in the conference centre which is two huts with bunk rooms for the children and private rooms for most of the adults, plus a fire pit, a barbeque and a fully-equipped kitchen so we weren't roughing it at all. Some of you may sneer and say it wasn't really a camping experience, but for this lot it was enough. The children rose to the occasion magnificently: the tears on the first night (many of them had never spent time away from both parents before and missed their mummies and daddies dreadfully, so I got to give out LOTS of cuddles, which was nice) gave way to unadulterated enthusiasm by the next morning. Ruth had organised teams with one adult and several "helpers' each to do various tasks: prepare breakfast/morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea/dinner, clear it up, do the cleaning on the way out, serve food, make food... and they did it all with very few complications. I was really impressed actually: 8 year olds aren't renowned for their organisational skills, patience or dexterity but they completed their tasks and were able to take responsibility for things like having a shower after swimming in the sea, cleaning their rooms, packing and unpacking and keeping things tidy.
Tomorrow it's back to school and they will spend a few days de-briefing and learning from their experiences and each doing a page in a book I'm going to make for them. I'll make a box with compartments for treasure we found on the trip, and I'll turn all the drawings and writing into concertina books to go into the box. The class will be able to keep it as a permanent reminder of their adventures.
It was a lovely break from reality! Now I have to get back to the real world and focus on things like the accounts, business cashflow, getting the car serviced, the house-building project, Board stuff for the school, oh... and also doing some of my work! I'm finding shuttling between two houses very tiring as it adds a good 2 hours of driving each day, and I'll be glad to get back into our Korora house, hopefully next weekend. It will be a filthy pit but at least we'd be sleeping in the same place as our belongings.