Report: Survival Camp 2011

My Experience Of The Nairana 2011 Survival Camp

By Jonathan Choong (Year 7)

This year’s survival camp was a great experience for me because this was the first real bushwalk I’ve had. The course was called the Six Foot Track, which started in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and ended at the Jenolan Caves.

On the first day we all met at Nairana at 7:30 sharp, from there we set course for the Pennant Hills Station to catch the 7:45 train to Katoomba. After a series of getting-on and off trains we arrived at Katoomba. The Nairana and Mirrabooka (a centre similar to Nairana located in Western Sydney) boys met together and   then we walked to the start of the Six Foot Track. We had a snack at Explorer’s Tree in Katoomba while Louie, a counsellor who works at both Nairana and Mirrabooka, gave us an idea of the track in general. Before we knew it, we were off. The 1st day I was in the middle of the whole group with a couple of my friends. For the first day the track was generally downhill and after about 2 hours we all stopped for our first lunch break. At first I thought we were at the back but at the stop, but the number of people who came after us was unbelievable. Then we travelled to a bridge made out of wire, strung high over a river. There was a blockade of people at the base of the bridge because only 1 person at a time could be on the bridge. After I crossed the bridge my friends and I walked only about 500m more and we were at the camp site. We had a rest, set up our tents, made a campfire and had dinner. After dinner we said the Rosary and were off to bed.

The morning of the second day we all woke up had breakfast, packed up our tents extinguish the fire and started the second day. Louie and Joe from Nairana gave us info on the day ahead. The second day was talked up to be the hardest with a very steep hill at the start, the ‘Never Ending Hill’ and the endless flat. After that we all set course for the next campsite. Like the day before I was in the middle as we headed up the very steep hill. We all took about 3 breaks in an hour to reach the top. We had a snack and started to go to the never-ending hill. There were 3 river crossings to reach the hill and unfortunately the lower half of my body was drenched so I had to ring out my socks and dry before I went up the hill. My friends and I struggled up the hill taking many breaks in between as we reached the top of the never-ending hill. We all felt we had accomplished something as we sat and ate lunch while talking. An hour or so later we then started the endless flat. In my point of view this was the worst part because it was so boring. The endless flat was 3 hours and it all looked the same so it felt like 7 hours. When I reached the campsite I could not have been happier.  The 2nd day was the hardest out of the camp and I had finished it. Like the day before we set up our tents, made a fire, cooked and had dinner together. Before dinner Fr. Felix came and we celebrated Mass with everyone together. While we were all at the campfire Joe Watson brought his guitar to play so we listened and sung to all types of songs with my brother Jared leading the singing. The guitar was handed to many other guitarists and that went on to about 10pm. We then recited the Rosary and went to bed.

The third day was the shortest and the easiest day of the camp. We all woke up had breakfast, packed our tents etc. We also had another Mass before we started the last day of the camp. Ever the conservative Louie gave us information about the track, as he had done in the past. He said it flat at the start then downhill to the end. After the briefing we all began to walk to the Jenolan Caves. The last day I was more behind than in front because of my ankle and just general fatigue. Everyone pushed themselves towards the last downhill stretch of the track as a sense of near-triumph and victory was palpable in that rarefied Blue Mountains air. When I saw the destination at the town I sprinted to the end. As soon as I finished the track I was so happy. I accomplished something and that is one of the best feelings in the world. When we all finished we came to our reward…

McDonald’s at Blaxland.

We were all given $9 to eat at McDonald’s. We all enjoyed eating our prize for about an hour until it was time to go to Nairana. We were sorted into mini-vans as we came back to Nairana to be picked up and to go home. I was at Nairana for about 30 minutes until I finally came home.

This year’s survival camp was fantastic, there’s nothing more awesome than walking and camping with my mates through the bush. It was good to push myself for once and I do not regret one thing throughout the whole camp.

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