I just deleted the 79 words I had written before I realised that I was absolutely famished and that is why my brain wasn’t working. I just got back home last night from my PDHPE excursion, and obviously, I’m trying to recover… but not in the same way I had to recover from my previous school excursion. Have a squiz at All of our Reasoning ends in Surrender to Feeling, if you want, for some reason, to know what I’m on about because I don’t wanna talk about it ever again thanks. Nah, they just didn’t feed me enough and made me eat and sleep at ridiculously early times. Pfffttt who eats at 6 pm and sleeps at 10:30 pm? Normal people? Why am I even asking? If you’re here reading this through your own free will, I doubt you’re overly normal anyway. (Also, if you’re being forced against your own accord to read my blog, I’m sorry and you should probably call the police.)
As most would know from the Happy Birthday to me, and this Website! (Part 1). The article, or at least your very recent sighting of its title, it was my sixteenth birthday on Wednesday, but I left for the excursion on Tuesday, meaning I obviously wasn’t home for my birthday. I got back on Friday night, now it’s Saturday, and it seems I had promised a Part 2… so here we are. Y’all might want to take a seat right about now because your knees are about to weaken at the mass of criss-cross, zig-zag, up-down, negative-positivity and a smile and tears that you’re about to hear about.
My week started on Tuesday. I don’t even remember Mon-day, just Mon-night, I received the first of my birthday presents of the year, a new phone (Google Nexus 5X), and had Spaghetti Bolognese because I’m pretty sure my stomach is Italian. We then departed for the excursion at the end of lunchtime on Tuesday. The bus ride was pretty uneventful until, four hours in, someone spotted that big beautiful halo light in the sky, the golden arch to heaven… Maccas.
We eventually arrived at our second true destination, The Great Aussie Bush Camp, then our first encounter of any projection of the week to come, came in the form of ‘Gnarley Dan’. This spritely painfully Aussie cliché on legs sprung onto our bus within seconds of us realising we were there. He was an instructor at the camp. He had dirty blond short dreadlocks and a beige bucket hat, a matching big camp logo jumper and board shorts on his olive skin. He sported a ‘shinlet’ (like an anklet but on his leg) under which he would later reveal the most contrasting tan line I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m pretty sure that his hands were permanently stuck in the ‘Keckers’ symbol. This dude used one word in every context possible, ‘Gnarley’.
The bus ride was pretty uneventful until, four hours in, someone spotted that big beautiful halo light in the sky, the golden arch to heaven… Maccas.
We all sat around a mad little campfire as Gnarley Dan ran us through all the formalities (roll call, rules for camp, day groups, etc.). He told us this absolute masterpiece of a ‘true’ story that had to do with him and Aaron (another instructor, the one who led my day group) backpacking in Canada. He said he ended up getting a job driving a giant robotic moose suit for $500 a day to save Canadian tourism and nearly being eaten by a bear who turned out to be Aaron in a robotic bear suit.
At some point that night, we were shown our cabins, if you could call them that at all. They merely had just concrete floors, bare mattresses and three flimsy bunk beds, crammed into a room the same size as three or four porta-potties, with none of the relief and all of the smell. Deodorant solves problems though, so I didn’t mind too much. I quickly got the feeling we’d only actually be sleeping in there anyway. We got choccy milk before bed, and I can firmly say it was the most beautiful thing that has been poured into a cup ever (second only to coffee).
Wednesday morning featured receiving a few sleepy dawn-eyed birthday messages from all y’all back home ‘finger guns to the fam’ 👈👉. For brekky, the nicest pancakes I’ve ever had and the first scrambled eggs I’ve had since nearly a month beforehand (however, those were on retreat, so I might not even count them as actual edible food). The food there was not bad. It wasn’t Mum’s, but it wasn’t the retreat either, so I was happy enough, apart from the fact that I didn’t eat anywhere near sufficient amounts to compensate for the energy I needed, and that they didn’t have any watermelon.
After brekky, we were split off into day groups and the first thing we (group 2 of 2) did was an activity called ‘Gully Crossing’. We were divided into two smaller groups, and build a flying fox which was supposed to get the whole team across the gully as fast as we could, beating the other team, which we did. We had snow cones for morning tea. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, it was raining all day on my sixteenth birthday, not that I minded though, because it was still, and remained to be better than the retreat. We then went on to do the ‘leap of faith’ (jumping off a wobbly plank of wood to grab a trapeze) and the giant swing (I’m not going to try and explain it, but it was the second best view I got on this trip). I was sitting there, supposedly listening to instructions about the giant swing (which I already knew about because that was actually a fun thing that I did at the retreat) when 1 o’clock came along, meaning my new website was released to the world whoop!
We had lunch, and packed up to go camping for the night and jumped on the bus to the campsite. Aaron, our instructor…
…had been reminded numerous times that it was, in fact, my birthday, to which his immediate and repetitive response was a beautiful cover of this;
The campsite was actually beautiful, despite my disappointment in finding out we would not be camping on the beach, but just walking on the beach the next morning. We sorted ourselves into tents, which fit three people in them each. One of the girls in my cabin and I had planned to get out of the cabin early that morning to take sunrise photos, but it turned out we needed sleep. So we planned to get up Thursday morning, which is why we made sure to be in the same tent, but we took photos of the river nearby the campsite in some little chunk of time we got just before we were taught how to cook dinner.
They brought rice, and these tiny portions of beef stroganoff, which we were to cook/reheat in this little camper pot-fire thingos… I didn’t help at all, I was busy whining about my phone being flat and my absence of birthday cake. But it’s all good, they sang happy birthday to me at the end, and it wasn’t horrible… but it was raining, and we had to use a long drop… after all this, we were told that we could either go to bed or stay up for campfire stories and little challenges. I went into the tent, but it eventually got quiet in there, and I decided to bust out and see what all the outside commotion was about.
When I walked out, they were laying on top of a table and trying to climb around the bottom of the table and back to the top without touching the legs or the ground. I had one attempt, I’ll leave you to your assumptions on my levels of success. There was a guy who came to do a fire show, where he twirled the stick with the fire on the ends of it, which brought everyone out naturally. We all heard some more of Gnarley Dan and A.A.rons fantastical tales, one of which featured a story of how they went camping a year ago, and this boy wouldn’t go to sleep and kept coming out of his tent, and the instructor (I don’t actually remember who was telling the story) kept telling the boy to go to sleep, and eventually woke the teacher up, who informed the instructor with a pale face and wide eyes that this boy wasn’t a part of that school. He said, “The boy looked up at us, got up and legged it all the way out into that forest just there, and was never seen again.” Of course, the whole thing was a lie, but it weeded out the weaklings, who all went to bed after that.
We all woke up at 12 because it started raining hard, but we stayed a lot drier than most of the other tents. Of course, eventually, we had to get out of the tent, and that was less dry. My friend and I found time (before the consumption of the poorest bacon ever) to venture into the luscious bush to take photos. We continued to take pictures for the next half a day. We caught the bus to the beach on the other side of the road, and then hiked up a mountain, where I found my favourite and highest view of my life. We eventually got to have lunch and hear more of story time with Gnarly Dan while we were waiting for our sandwiches.
We then headed back to camp (the cabin site) and got ready to do the mud run… this was the only real disappointment I had with this trip. If you’ve read my retreat post, you know that the mud run was probably my favourite part of the whole ordeal. This one was small and included dirty water (but not real mud) which we weren’t allowed to throw. We also weren’t allowed to run, jump, or participate in any kind of challenging obstacle on account of not being presented with one. But that’s fine.
We went for showers after that… now, what you’ve got to understand about the PDHPE excursion is that there were 12 boys and the rest of the 60 or so were girls. In the girl’s bathrooms, there were six or seven showers, eight at the most. So could you blame me that I just used the boy’s ones? Of course, everyone else had beautiful, warm showers with decent pressure… nope, I got the druely shower… not that I really had any mud to get off though.
We did ‘alpine rescue’ after that, an activity which primarily included me laying on a stretcher and my team trying to get me through a series of obstacles without touching the ground.
After dinner, I witnessed the height of our generational glory, a real life non-preconceived dance off. Yeah… that’s our year group at its finest.
We were then led down into this little campsite where we would receive instructions for ‘Commando’.
Rachel, another instructor (who had given her hat and beanie to my friend and I before had, so she was pretty lit) explained that we were going to be playing a massive game of spotlight in the middle of the bush, in teams of 4+ people. Hostages were taken by the teachers, to a ‘hostage base’ with a secret location. The student’s aim was to return all the hostages to ‘base camp’ to win the game. The teacher’s goal was to track us down in the bush with their spotlight. If they found us, they took our ‘life token’, and we were to go back to ‘base camp’ to earn another life token through a song, dance, challenge or joke. We had to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow the first time around and then played Two Truths One Lie. The direct dialogue of this encounter went like this;
Friend 1: “I sat on a duck.”
Friend 2: Who is clearly of new Zealander decent: “I was born in new Zealand.”
Friend 3: “I have a gay dog.”
…I’ll leave you to your suspicions. Anyway, long story short, we played Marco-Polo in the bush in the dark, I had to pee, and we were the second ever year group to beat the teachers.
We had supper afterwards, ‘choccy milk and sausage roll pt 2’! And chilled on the veranda for a bit, I charged up my phone finally.
Friday morning we packed up and shipped out after doing the high ropes course, which was my jam. We also had to climb a wall together. A.A.ron’s motivation for us is that we all had to get over that wall and stand on the top and give the finger to Donald Trump, and that worked for us. We had hotdogs for lunch, and I got mustard which was meant for the littler kids (thanks, sneaky A.A.ron for the musti), where I once again encountered proof of my stomach’s true culture after being told that mustard is gross and ‘spicy’. Mmmkay.
We got on the bus home, and honestly, I just slept or stayed in this half- awake state the whole way back. Last night I received my other birthday presents. A Pandora bracelet and two beads to go on it, a gorgeously over detailed camera charm and a dangly ’16’ charm from my nan.
Now, I’m going to go have my birthday dinner and my long awaited birthday cake… that’s all.