Survivor Bush Camp 

“One of the best parts of the camp was that I didn’t think about tomorrow or yesterday. I was never in any moment but the present”.

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These were the words of my 15yo son Daniel, who came back from a five day survival camp in Anglesea a few weeks ago. He was exhausted but looked fitter, healthier and happier than I’ve seen him in a long time.

To give you an idea of my boy, he’s not very sporty and his passion lies in programming and computers. Despite all of our camping as a family, this five day hiking survivor camp, organised by the school, was way out of his comfort zone.


They had to carry their own backpacks (80 litres) with all of their food and water, cook their own meals, navigate their own way and complete challenges each day.

There were no phones or communications and the weather was not kind. It was scorching hot on the first day then turned to thunderstorms, rain and cold.'Y'know, this wouldn't keep happening if you learned to load your pack properly.'

This Yarangabee Anglesea-Otways experience became a test of stamina and endurance for him and I wondered how he’d cope. So when he got back I asked him.

These were his answers, completely unabridged and unedited.

What did you find the most challenging thing on camp?

To just keep going! There were countless moments where I felt far too tired to continue, and a lot of the other group members were exhausted too. Persisting when things are really difficult can be hard, but supporting others, having a bit of food to keep you energised and a positive attitude can help a whole lot.

The huge bush walk was one of those moments. To believe that you are so close to your destination, only to be let down at the top of the hill can be extremely challenging after a number of times. Another time I felt super challenging was the Monday, when the storm hit and we trudged through the rain and wind only to be no better off.

Sometimes challenges are not just physical, in fact, most challenges on camp were about attitude and mindset. When trudging through a pouring storm, your mind is screaming for warmth.

What was your favorite activity on camp?

My favourite activity was the bike riding, and more specifically, a single moment of exhilaration when I was flying down a hill on the BMX bike. 

The bike ride did involve very tough uphill lengths, but when I was flying down the hill, with the wind in my hair, flying down a stony track and becoming airborne when hitting potholes, nothing can stop you from screaming out to the land around.

cartoon-bike

Do you think that camp conquered any fears you had?

Fears of embarrassment, oceans, spiders, lack of ability, there are lots of fears I have, and they’ve all been challenged in some way by camp. A single experience doesn’t always conquer a fear, but it can make you recognise it and become familiar with it, so you can challenge it personally.

For example, it was only when I was in the ocean that I realised my fear of oceans is somewhat unneeded, even if the experience was unpleasant.

What was the most physically taxing thing you did?

The nine kilometre hike with the packs on my pack, by far. backpack-heavyNothing can describe the burn that your feet can feel and the ache your shoulders can have. With every down there can be an up though, and gee, did I feel the relief of taking my pack off when that hike was done.

What was the most emotionally taxing thing on camp?

Having to trudge through wet weather as a storm rages above can be very emotionally taxing. Your feet are wet and your shoes feel destroyed, you’re soaked to the bone and you just want to go home!

stronger

What surprised you the most on camp?

That spider when it sat on my shoulder with it’s eight billion eyes and poked it’s tongue out at my scream.

 Did you learn anything about yourself?

My ability to keep going and stay in the moment. Sometimes, in the middle of a long walk, my thoughts would be reduced to ‘left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot’. It’s then that you forget your worries, you past, your future, and become engulfed in the present moment. 

It’s almost like meditation, but a little more painful. You can feel the weight on your back, know that you might be hiking for hours more, but you just forget that and just take another step.

Any funny moments?

Seeing my friends and I sink in a raft we had spent half an hour of back breaking time in might seem pretty sad, but was pretty funny. The realisation dawning on everyone that our raft trip across the body of water would be more swimming than paddling with an awe.

Stand out moments?

Sitting around the campfire with mates and a nice dinner, after finishing the days work, just knowing that you can relax for the night. Friends make a camp like this.

What did you miss the most

You!   Oh and warm cooked food and a thick mattress.

Aww, and to think I thought he was going to say his computer. I’ve never loved him more.

hiking-video-game

He came back with a new perspective, a new appreciation of life and the knowledge that he was capable of much more than he ever thought of.

Wishing you all a little bit of adventure today.


61 thoughts on “Survivor Bush Camp 

  1. Wow – what an incredibly rich and emotionally intelligent young man you have raised Miriam. I just loved his answers, which brought life and present moment experiences into perspective. And at such a tender age. Amazing xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely comment, thank you so much Hayley. And yes, I’m very proud of him. His attitude after the camp was so positive and inspiring, it made me realise how resilient he is. It was a great experience for him. Thanks for reading. xo

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  2. Ah How lovely his responses were! How profoundly, travelling changes the perspective! I felt sorry to hear that he had to walk miles with a heavy backpack and with wet feet! How troublesome it must have been! But he is such a smart boy that he drew a thoughtful perspective in that situation also! And I loved to note how he mentioned warm food and thick mattress as the most missed items! That was so cute of him! How nicely such trips make us start seeing the value in the most ordinary of things! Very nice post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think he enjoyed the experience and it made him appreciate the simple things so much more. When he arrived home he kept commenting on how big and luxurious every thing seemed. Oh, what a difference a new perspective gives. Thanks so much for reading and your nice comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Miriam,

    Very mature comments. I bet the camp will be the most talked about and fondly remembered school experience of the group’s secondary years. Some classic comments in there, I especially like the spider on the shoulder comment. Daniel got it in one – mental attitude is key. Glad he appreciated home more. I enjoyed the read. Thank you for sharing and well done Daniel. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right Louise, I think it’ll rank as one of the most memorable experiences of his secondary schooling. And I’m so glad. Wish there were photos of it but I guess for him it doesn’t matter. He has the experience and that’s what matters. And yeah, the spider incident was a classic! Thanks for reading. xo

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  4. Sons don’t express their appreciation often. They may think it but very rarely let you know. I can appreciate how you felt when he said he had missed you.
    Great that the school organised such a great adventure for the boys.

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  5. Wow what a great adventure for him and a moment of growing up and getting to know himself a little better! Sounds like he had a very insightful time. Great questions and answers, thanks for sharing his thoughts. That camp sounds like something all kids should experience. Good for the body, mind and soul!! Bet you gave him big hugs when he arrived home!! You’ve got quite a thoughtful young man for a son, I know where he gets it from! Love and blessings to you all…xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deb, yes it really was a wonderful experience for him, a true adventure in discovering himself and what he was capable of. And he definitely got big hugs when he got home. Thank you for your lovely comment. I hope you’re doing well. Big hugs xo

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  6. So amazing!! Such a proud moment for both of you -and probably neither of you felt it that way; more of a feeling of strong accomplishment and groundedness. Good kid! Must feel wonderful to know your son can stretch himself so far out of his comfort zone and not only do okay, but actually rise to the occasion and thrive! He sounds a lot like my 16 year-old son. 🙂 Enjoy having him home!!

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  7. What a terrific experience! The schools don’t have anything like that where I live, but I wish they did. And thanks for sharing your son’s actual responses. It made the whole experience so real for me. My favorite answer, by far, was his last one. You raised that kid right!

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  8. I Loved these Words – ” Sometimes, in the middle of a long walk, my thoughts would be reduced to ‘left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot’. It’s then that you forget your worries, you past, your future, and become engulfed in the present moment. “.Really, we all should go for a Camp once a year, to unite our souls back to Nature and get rid of all our worries and fears.
    And I loved, that he missed Home Food and Bed. That’s so cute.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I bet. Seriously, he sounds so great. Scientist/ outdoorsman/ kind hearted soul in the making. Bet he accomplishes big things in his world. Bet he has his momma’s big ol’ heart, too.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. You’re so kind. I never thought of him as an outdoorsman sort of person before this, he’s always in front of his computer. But he also has a huge heart and the most inquisitive and probing mind. I have no doubt he’ll make his mark in this world.

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