The Under Oath Camporee
or The Under Water Damporee
by Maryellen Fairfax
The Under Oath Camporee or The Under Water Damporee - Describing a very wet Pathfinder Camporee
Well…what can I say about the 2011 Under Oath Camporee? I could use so many adjectives to describe it, that they would probably take up the whole page. So, I won't go too over the top, even though there is a plethora of information just begging to be written down. Although it has well and truly finished now, the memory is still very fresh in my mind.
The 12 hour car trip from Toowoomba to Sydney is very tiresome, as most of you would know all too well. So, while I was patiently sitting through the mind-numbing and wearisome journey, I decided to write an article to tell all of you about the camporee .This task proved to be a real challenge though, because to tell you everything would take too much space. So I summed it up into a few paragraphs. Every story must start somewhere, so let me begin by telling you the basics.
The camporee this year was held in Toowoomba, Southern Queensland from 4-9 January. Hundreds of clubs and over 2,500 pathfinders from all over Australia and the Pacific joined together to have a great time, and learn about God.
Thornleigh Pathfinder club, of which I am a member, was to arrive early on Tuesday morning to register and set up camp. After waking up at an utterly ridiculous hour, and carrying large bags to the car, we drove all the way to Toowoomba - down the long, and seemingly never ending roads, and peering down at the repetitive yellow lines to pass the time. Eventually, we arrived at our destination. The weather, it seemed, was perfect. Not too hot, and not too cold - just right for camping.
Everything was going perfectly the first day. Our tents were up, our campsite prepared and everything was clean and organized. We were ready and prepared for whatever this year's camporee would throw at us (or so we thought)…but, fate would see it differently.
As many of you would have seen on the news, floods have recently devastated parts of the city of Toowoomba and surrounding towns. The rain received flooded an area of Queensland the size of New South Wales, transforming beautiful countryside and cityscape, hillsides and plains into rivers, waterfalls and mud baths… and let me tell you, the locals weren't the only ones receiving rain! By the second day, our clean and organized campsite had…altered, to say the least… but I'll get to that later.
The first day of camp was a warm one, and by the second day we couldn't wait for the water activities! We hurriedly left camp to do this activity, leaving everything behind and expecting to come back to a normal camp-kitchen, dining area and dry tents. However, after receiving 100mm of rain in under an hour and getting wetter than we had ever got before, our expectations were…somewhat changed.
If you think you have seen and experienced mud, think again. We came back to flooded tents, rain-soaked chairs, wet belongings and a campsite that resembled a river. Water came gushing through trenches our leaders had dug in an attempt to detour the masses of water. The trenches were successful to a point, but it wasn't enough to save our campsite. After the water had receded a little, we moved our sopping wet tents up the hill to a 'drier' site. Our tents didn't get flooded after that, however they still got very, very wet.
The rest of the week was spent avoiding the rain and squelching through slushy, ankle deep mud. Some clubs couldn't handle it and left all together, some moved into a large showground shed for emergency accommodation, but Thornleigh and other very resilient clubs, I am proud to say, stuck it out in the mud until the very end. I remember at the closing of Sabbath, our Sub camp pastor saying, "This is the toughest camporee we have ever had to endure, and I am very proud of you all for getting through and staying despite everything".
Apart from the minor 'mud' setback, the camporee was a huge success, with tons of awesome activities, great food (which our cooks diligently prepared for us), and great night meetings. These night meetings were all based around the life of Josiah, the boy king, who chose to do the right thing despite everything else. Pastor James Black, the main speaker, was very inspirational and passionate about his work. He opened my eyes, and taught me important lessons about God.
This camporee is one that I will not soon forget, and was a life changing (and resilience testing) experience. And, while I'm relieved it is over, I am so glad I went, as I met lots of new people and learned and experienced lots of new things.
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