Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
August 2020
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When a tent is luxury

I know that there are many of you who do not regard camping as providing the most luxurious accommodation in the world (and, when it comes right down to it, I’m inclined to agree … although the views are often fantastic), but have pity on my poor Scouts this weekend. Three of them attended the annual District survival camp up near Castlemaine, where we deprive them of tents and sleeping bags and they have to make themselves “comfortable” for a couple of nights in the bush.

Our kids built themselves a pretty good shelter. The photo below (with faces changed to protect the innocent) shows the shelter after they had started to dismantle it at the end of the camp; it originally had a bit of a wall at the front to stop the draft, and the floor was covered in (conveniently discovered) old newspaper, to provide extra insulation.

The campsite we use is a lovely spot and we were very blessed with good weather (see second photo, that’s my tent you might be able to make out just to the right of the yellow wattle tree (yes, a tent is luxury, but we aged decrepit leaders have enough issues about survival without making us rough it in a bush shelter as well!)). It wasn’t too hard for the kids to “survive” in such temperate weather, although it became a bit cool overnight, and it was tiring for just the three of them to keep their fire running all night. They had various other challenges to tackle, such as lighting a fire without matches (there are some good flints you can buy which actually make this quite easy) and navigating cross country through the bush.

Early spring meant that the wattles and some other wildflowers were in bloom, and recent rains meant that not only was the place greener than I’ve seen it but there was also water in the little creek for the first time in at least the five years that I’ve been visiting. In fact, the water was flowing, although it would disappear into the gravel every so often. This meant that we could dig for water in one of the damp patches, and were rewarded with an initially muddy puddle, which was starting to settle out to give clear water when we left it for half an hour.

The place is full of old mining remnants, with abandoned shafts and old stone walls, and a twisted dug-over landscape pockmarked by diggings and mullock heaps. The close bush and the gullies make it easy to feel a sense of isolation and hauntedness; there is a sort of benign malevolence to the place!

One of my favourite spots is the old stone chimney that was shown to me on my first visit here five years ago. You can walk within 50m of it and not know that it is there unless you are really paying attention. This time the little valley nearby was verdant green, and there was actually a sizeable pond of water in the hollow behind the breached dam wall that the miners built 150 or so years ago. Contrast the chimney on the weekend with this photo from April.

Oh, and our three Scouts actually won the competition, and should feel pleased with themselves for their efforts.

3 comments to When a tent is luxury

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