Year 8 students strike it lucky in Central Otago 

Monday 12th September 2016

The John McGlashan Year 8 camp is an unforgettable experience, one that lasts through the memories of even the busiest and most successful student. 

Enjoying Macetown in remote Central backcountry
Enjoying Macetown in remote Central backcountry

 My husband still recalls Mr Duncan regaling him and his friends with the Woo Woo Bear joke, and the table tennis still stands, despite a decade worth of ecstatic teenagers throwing their bats against it.

Before I go any further, it must be noted that the adults on this camp were a fine, exemplary group. Mr Duncan, Mrs Ruru and I had a supremely competent and efficient team of parent helpers to share responsibilities, and the boys absolutely loved Mr Baldwin’s work stories.

With a predominantly out-of-doors programme the camp could have been a trial of perseverance, but Spring raced ahead of us to Queenstown and the boys shed winter layers to expose pale limbs for the first time in three months. Under such glorious conditions we had a full, relaxing and energetic week.

The boys were delighted to practice their stone-skipping skills on the Clyde Dam, while some keen souls channelled living legend Bear Grills and opted to catch their lunch. Our first gold panning experience at the Goldfields Mining Centre yielded mixed success, with many realising for the first time just how much patience was required for such a lifestyle choice. Exploring the living quarters of former miners was particularly eye-opening, as the boys tested out the comfort levels of the huts and found they couldn’t even stand up in them. When our tour guide joined us, she was particularly concerned about students overheating. To rectify this, as she demonstrated how a sluice gun was operated she very considerately doused everyone with water, while the adults took the opportunity to capture the moment for all eternity.

Arrowtown was in fine form and provided plenty of informative intrigues to capture the boys’ attention. If you haven’t been inside the museum, put aside at least half an hour next time you’re in the area to get lost in it. It is much bigger on the inside than it looks from the street. Did you know there is a little gaol hidden up a side street you can visit? Or that the Chinese miners were superstitious about evil spirits entering their homes, so each hut is set at a different angle to the others around it? The educators had so many fascinating stories to share as we explored the town and remains of the Chinese village, and students especially enjoyed physically stepping into the history they were learning about.

When I asked a few students what they enjoyed most about camp, they were unanimous in their responses. The four wheel drive tour. Epically crossing streams with water winging up past the windows. Heads and limbs hitting the roof as the vehicle ricocheted off rocks and roots. On Thursday we split into groups and were driven as though on a theme-park ride up to remote Macetown, where all that remains is a lonely storeroom and a monolithic crushing battery. It seemed impossible that people could have lived as a self-sufficient town in such an isolated location, and gave us all much to think about.

Was camp a completely smooth success? Allow me to answer with not a small amount of pride for the boys and their attitudes towards each other throughout the week: absolutely. Can the current year sevens meet such a high calibre of young gentlemanly behaviour? They will have to wait until next year to see.

Thank you to all the year eight parents who came along on camp, whether it was for the whole time or part of it, you were appreciated and made an infinite difference to the boys’ and staff’s experience. Thank you also to Neil for coming out to spend time with us, and of course to the boys for being a band of brothers to each other. You made camp the positive experience that it was.