Bit of everything on the Clutha/Mata-Au Rafting Camp

Friday 9th December 2022

Our weather was variable to say the least on this year's Year 10 Clutha/ Mata-Au Rafting Camp.

There is also the daunting amount of water flowing past you every second. and this always takes some getting your head around. In the week before we headed out to camp a flow of 1100 cumecs (1100 cubic metres a second equal to 1100 tonnes a second) was recorded. During camp this was a far more civilised 250-300 cumecs; a little lower than last year. This meant there were more features poking out of the water, even a few whirlpools. Our raft managed close to 2 rotations in one patch of water our guides dubbed "Big Whirly". 

Our camp was driven by 4 outdoor education and rafting professionals: Steve, Ross, Murray and Taz. One each captained a raft crewed by 6 boys and Steve paddled the pack raft with all the gear on board. Luke Miller's Dad, Tony, was an excellent hands-on help for the camp and I was pleased that Luke's orange/pink Crocs were not sported river side.

Packing was a challenge for a few boys as each pair needed to get all of their gear, sleeping bags included, into a 70 litre dry bag. Henry Stephen and Mitchell Urquhart were the ones I helped the most employing my greater mass and gravity to get their buckles closed. By the last day pack down they had it mastered. Mitchell also caught the only student fish-a rainbow trout. This particular staff member was not above gloating over the fact that I caught 2 rainbow trout over about 30 minutes. Jack "Bear Grylls" Bensemann took my fishing jibes remarkably well. In stroke position in my boat he did find paddling and talking tricky in combination.

A real freedom camping experience is a big part of this camp. The boys slept under three large flys which they pitched in various styles after a crash course in tying bowlines and truckers hitches. We had all types of weather: warmth, rain, wind and some cold but there weren't any complaints. Not that I heard anyway.

A particular curiosity was created by the rustic camp toilets this year. Each site being afforded a view and significant indoor/outdoor flow. Ablutions in such a natural environment is an experience not regularly experienced. Amos Miller and Ed Ferro became so enamoured with the experience that I had to stop them from digging their own.

One of the biggest mental challenges came in the form of being able to create their own fire to cook dinner. Noah Clearwater aced this skill and advised other groups on their technical weaknesses. Caleb Ung managed to maintain a fever pitch with the bow to get a real smoke up. 

Lachie "protein creme" Sutherland stoically got on with the job at hand though he did really enjoy the stops at the Lawrence Night'n Day. Charlie Barnett was a star in the camp constellation. His quiet positivity bolstered the teamwork. Zack Gallagher and Ryan Hamilton added significant mental processing power to Camp Clutha. They made sure that this was fulling employed in solving the numerous outdoor challenges. Jermaine Wheeler always had the pithy comment to prod his team into action while Taylor Baker and Jacob Levy did find it tricky walking on water. In Jacob's defence his wet shoes were in the cause of re-catching my fish he was cleaning in the river. Last notes go to the two titans of camp: Matthew Jarvie and Sam Lawson. Both of whom made their presence heard and felt.