Last week was a very special week at Camas, it was phoenix expedition week!! A group of go-getting young adults set themselves the challenge of walking and camping around some of the loveliest parts of Mull. They were lead in this challenging endeavour by the lovely and quite able Avril and Dave.
Of course before setting out on expedition you have to prepare. The phoenix crew packed their bags with the food, equipment and sleeping bags that would sustain them for four days and three nights (four days and three nights!!).Cramming all this bulky stuff into their bags proved a challenge but they proved up to it. They also discussed the route of their expedition and signed a contract that bound them to working together and allowing them only two moans a day!
On Monday our intrepid explorers set out near Ben Talaidh. They were dropped off by the daisy bus and immediately got down to the business of walking. The ground proved boggy and uneven so the team had to work together to help each other through the bog and keep their boots on their feet instead of in the mud. To an ordinary group this trudge through energy sapping bog would prove hideous but not to the phoenix group who were always on hand to help and encourage each other (even though they were often toppling over and some group leaders fell into holes). The team eventually made it to the lovely bothy at the bottom of Ben Talaidh called Tombsleigh. Each member proved adept at setting up their little camp stoves known as trangias and cooking some mashed potato and curry. It was mighty tasty! The night then wound down next to the fire as the explorers reflected on the challenges they faced through the day and what solutions they had for overcoming them.
On Tuesday the group planned their route and timetable for climbing up Ben Talaidh. This involved learning about the effect that going up contours have on walking speeds. The team then set out on their slog up the mountain, using every inch of their stamina and courage, making it up and back down in four hours. By all accounts the views were lovely and the team spotted a Curlew. Back at the bothy the team settled again by the fire and had a well earned tomato pasta which they again cooked all by themselves, washing all their kit after they were done. When they all sat down by the fire they discussed their trip. The obstacles on their trek up the mountain seemed daunting at first but with the right level of spirit and application could be overcome by a process of breaking them down and managing them in smaller sections. They discussed how this approach could also be applied to obstacles in their lives back home.
On Wednesday the gang waved goodbye to the bothy and set out on the last leg of their wonderful adventure. Avril and Dave handed total responsibility to the group for map reading, time keeping and break management, they rose to the challenge superbly. A large boggy hill had to be crossed as the group made their way to Loch Ba. As they traversed this muddy glen they recalled the lessons they learned from the first days walking and took regular breaks, applied midge repelled and planned carefully where they put their feet. They also perfected the art of contouring and followed the map to the letter. After demolishing the first leg of the walk, the crew had a well earned rest near Gortenbuie as they talked about their experiences and their lives back home. The team felt closer than they had ever been as a result (the views were also amazing!!). After this the team walked around loch Ba and finally found a track they could follow. Following the track also required that the team had to stick closer together and not wander off and leaving members behind. They were up for the task, and the group’s excellent chat also played a part. At the end of this epic journey the group camped near the Ben More estate and had a well earned macaroni and cheese next to their tents, which they were now masters at putting up. Avril then spotted a low flying golden eagle and Dave nearly fainted at this first sign of “proper animals” on the trip. The group then reflected on the pride they felt for themselves and one another. They realised that even though they all took responsibility for their own well being and kit, their group dynamic and compassion for each other had also helped them complete their expedition.
The next day the group were picked up by the daisy bus and whisked back to Camas were they were greeted by a boisterous welcome home party. The group were given a delicious choice of pizzas and cheesecakes (not together) by the brilliant Davie and Jon, and gorgeous rainbow decorations by the exquisite talents of Hannah and Lynsey. The rest of the Camas gang were buzzing about the centre cleaning up and marvelling at our new washing machine after an awesome week looking after the cool kids of Bunessan and loch Don/Ulva primary schools.
The phoenix crew gave a presentation were they told everyone about their adventure and cool exploits. They made a poster worthy of their expedition and told the Camas team about the skills they picked up on the trip. The trip taught the team responsibility, self reliance, time management, fitness preparation, planning, map reading and outdoor survival skills. They were an awesome team and had a fun time exploring Mull and these new skills should serve them well in the years to come.