Tuesday, 13 December 2011

New game!

Allow me to apologise for the lack of blog post the last little while. I understand that you have all been waiting eagerly for the latest updates of what goes on at Camas. The truth is, not very much.

I don't mean to say that Camas is boring during winter. Or that the staff are sitting on their bums waiting for spring (although, today has been one of those days). There are lots of things to do. And there are lots of things (if slightly fewer) getting done. What I mean to say is that the things that I do do are not very inspirational. Starting a blog with 'today i was feeding the chickens', or 'today I was sitting inside doing office work all day' doesn't really seem like (or at least not very good) creative writing. Today I feel like there are enough collected moments from the past few days worthy of a blogpost.

If you have been in Scotland over the past week or so, you probably felt the breeze that came over us. We did too. I am happy to announce that Camas is still here. There were some scary moments but we all survived it. People, cats and chickens are all standing up. I spend most of the day inside listening to roof slates clattering above, wondering how many I would find, or not find, on the ground the next day (none were found, it's harder to account for how many were not found). Occasionally I had to run outside and pull a wheelbarrow from the sea, tie things to other things, close doors, etc (was contemplating tying string to chicken, and using as kite). It was an interesting day, but glad it is over.

And now to the title post. Today has been another windy day, and I'm proud to say that another Camas game has been invented. Track surfing!

  • For 1 - 99 participants
  • 18 - 30 years of age (if you are an old person you tend to not track surf, weak bones and all that, under 18's would not get parents consent anyway)
  • A windy day, preferably a northerly or southerly wind.
  • A big jacket
  • a wet track
  • bad boots

Run with the wind in your back. Step on to the slippery track and let the wind carry you along. Longest continues surf wins. Broken bones, pierced skin, scraped face and sore bum will result in not only pain (and enjoyment by other participants), but also in minus points or in the case of serious breach of rules, disqualification or possible hospitalisation. Let the fun begin!
(don't try this at home without parental consent)


Camas would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We hope to see you at Camas next year!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Saws, Soup and Sunshine

Huath in Celtic, the fine Scottish native also known as Hawthorn was no match for our newest volunteers who had tree surgery at the top of their list of Camas tasks.

Two lads who had visited Camas earlier in the year decided to come back for more... and this time with much more hard work involved! They brought two tutors along, who also turned their hand to pruning branches and toppling timber on our first day of work exchange.

Sprucing up our native woodland area, and letting some light through!

Totally rearanging the polly tunnel, to have lovely low veg beds, accessable on all sides was made into a short task by some of the team!

After a tea break there was often a mysterious disappearing act, followed by the ghostly thud of footsteps upstairs, and the clatter of table tennis balls. Sometimes our hardy workers reappeared in the kitchen ready to cook, or do a track run, or lay the table for lunch.

Some delicious chutney was brewed, veg neatly chopped, and wood sawn for the winter.

The weather was dry for some fabulous green carpentry outside.

And an arched, gothic seat was created.

Of course a highlight was the beautiful last night reflection, where we looked back on how the week, and all that hard work had made us feel. Although it could be argued that gasious emissions were at an all time high, there was plenty of laughter and good feeling to go around, especially as we each got to sit in the seat of glory!
I hope you managed to open the windows sometimes on your way home!
We look forward to visiting you guys, and exchanging work in the garden.
Rosie Speakin signing out x

Friday, 21 October 2011

Camas Volunteers - a tribute, yo

Here we are, the ragtaggle and rather splendid Camas crew of 2011.
Our season is finished and we hope it was full of the best sort of memories for all of you who braved it down the track. Thanks for sharing Camas with us. Without these swashbuckling volunteers the good ship Camas would surely have floundered. Big love and a big hand to:




We've put up some flattering mugshots to remember you by as the long, cold, lonely winter descends...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Autumn Collection - Part III (Exploring Creation)

Kathy Galloway hosted another creative adult week at Camas. We welcomed fifteen folk from all over Britain and beyond. They contributed to the common life and enjoyed the autumn colour of Camas, exploring nature, creation or 'The Big Book'. Some got the full sensory experience plunging into the big old sea for a swim. Others took the water in kayaks and got up close to the lichen-crusted coastal rock. Others took on the rock and abseiled! Folk were encouraged to pick up paintbrushes and pens and make art. Evenings were spent in cosy conversation. One highlight was a gorgeous sunny, sunny day (the last of the summer, perhaps?) spent on Erraid, the tidal island of Robert Louis Stevenson's Shipwrecked fame. The end of the week was celebrated with a delicious curry night, entertained at our seats and a final, thoughtful reflection from Kathy. We hope your sunny days at Camas stay with you all.

The Autumn Collection - Part II

Another week at Camas has come and gone. This time the last group of young people for the season, and one of our regulars.

The week started of with a few full days of solid rain. It rained, and it rained, and it rained. But the rain wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of this group. Quite the opposite. Soon after landing at Camas the waterproofs were on and a walk to the beach were on the schedule. We were to brave the rain for another couple of days doing shelter building in the woodland and other activities. Eventually we had to seek a slightly more waterproof shelter in the shape of the Camas buildings.

But just because we were inside doesn’t mean the fun stops. Lots of games (wink-murderer and Jungle speed were favourites) and art and craft (making books) and a bit of juggling skills.

The rain did stop. And we could finally venture outside again. Along with our more adventurous activities like kayaking, abseiling and rock-climbing the peat digging was a clear favourite. As long as you combine it with a good game of camouflage! Note to Becky: bright yellow wateproof trousers are not the best peat bog camouflage.

The week ended on a high with an evening prepared by our guests. Good food, beautiful decoration, nice relaxing reflection, and a brilliant quiz to test our knowledge of various things.

Good to see old faces and good to meet new people. Thanks guys for a brilliant week, hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Autumn Collection - Part I

In September, we invited a delightful bunch of friendly faces back to the bay for 'Bring A Mate' week. Ah, those rosy, la-di-da days at the end of summer: all homemade ginger beer, crumpets and a little jolly seafaring with Rob, Tom, Ash, Rosaidh, Nita, Baby Una, Amy and Robin. Look at them enjoying the fresh sea air. How wholesome!

...But, this being Camas, it wasn't quite so simple. The ginger beer was alarmingly fizzy and bottles of the stuff exploded at unexpected intervals all through the week. A bit like the aquatron which exploded with something far less appealing. Don't ask. Really. The warm and fuzzy feeling of Bring A Mate week also exploded into a formidable rap battle - Rachel Marshal vs. Hamish Macrae a.k.a. Rach Against the Macrae - a spewed out rhyme-strewn character assassination, most of which cannot be repeated here. Here’s a little taster (can you handle it?):

If you want to run and hide, you wouldn’t be blamed, yo

Cos you’re entering a dangerous zone where only the insane go

Is there anyone better than I...at this rap game? No!

If we were cats I’d be Growler, chilled out in the kale

You’d be Boo, afraid of his own tail

If you’re feeling threatened better call the constabulary

I’m committing rhyme homicide with my formidable vocabulary

Ouch! Fiercesome stuff from MC Macrae. It is healthy to share you feelings afterall and once season's worth of pent-up rivalry had been vented through the medium of rap, Camas staff made-up and celebrated with the end of-season party. There was a feast of gourmet golden slice burgers under a candelabra lighting the banquet hall. Fancy stuff! Guests joining us from the local village and Iona for a bonfire, songs, balloons, dancing and merriment. How very, very fine.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

You're positivly GLOWING!

The new members programme was back again this past weekend for the equivalent of 3 jam packed days with their “alternative new members,” which (before you start asking yourself in your head) by NO MEANS means they are the second round draft pick for the community. We did our best to try to fit the full Camas experience into a weekend, but I think that everyone is hoping these lovely folks can clear their schedules for a whole week next year! What could have been SO amazing about the weekend that they would leave screaming, “MORE!” you ask?... Well, besides the joy of getting some much needed maintenance tasks done, we went kayaking nearly every day (with a friendly seal even on one occasion), played some music and sang together while being warmed by cups of hot chocolate and a warm fire in the common room, ate Hamish’s “Anzac Slice” during tea breaks that stretched for well over 30 minutes, and even left time enough for swims and hikes to Market Bay in their free time. The guests also seemed to enjoy some deep discussions during their sessions with Peter, and I know all of us staff appreciated having some bonding time over arts and crafts... including helping Rob create a drum kit out of recyclable tubs and tins.

Even though all those things were amazingly fun, I think everyone would agree that the true high point of the weekend is not listed above. On Sunday night everyone was on a night walk down by the bay, and thanks to a happy (not too painful) accident involving gravity and our dear Autumn, we discovered there was phosphorescence in the water of the bay. Sadly, no pictures could capture the beauty we saw, but those of you reading this that have ever been lucky enough to have experienced this wonder of nature in person will know what a magical experience it was. With a simple brush of a finger or raindrop on the smooth black surface of the water you could release a trail or pinprick of green light, and the splash of a rock turned into a natural firework explosion out in the bay. Some folks even ditched their wellies for wetsuits and went swimming, despite the cold, just to see the trails of light their strokes left in their wake.

There really isn’t much to say after that... just like the tides all too quickly took the phosphorescence out of the bay, Monday morning came and took the guests away too, but we still have some great memories, boxes of dried peat, bits of mended track, and woven plastic windscreens for the garden to remember them by... until they come back next year that is!

this blog post has been brought to you by the letter N

Sunday, 4 September 2011

You Can Leave Your Wetsuit On... Please.

Good day friends. I am afraid I must start this blog post with an unreserved apology to all members of a truly wonderful group, who graced us with their good company for a very special week. An unfortunate set of events lead to me writing most of the blog, and then going on holiday for a week with Josef. Sorry about that. But we did have a lovely holiday.

This week saw the return of a bunch of hardened Camas veterans, along with a few new faces, visiting our wee spot all the way from the midlands; somewhere between Birmingham and Stoke apparently. It was a delight to see their gleaming faces emerging from the bus at the end of the track, perhaps owing to the fact that Bowmans had not left them in Craignure this year, but I’m sure they were also looking forward to their walk to Camas. Much fun was had as old friendships were renewed and new acquaintances made.

Saturday and Sunday were straight down to business; making the most of the good weather and calm seas to get everyone out in the kayaks or over the edge of the abseil wall. The kayakers in particular were treated to some very memorable sights; the dramatic sinking of leader Ted’s kayak is bound to stick in the memory of those who witnessed it. One group were also treated to a demonstration of ‘Captain Adams Very Interesting Self-Rescue Techniques’ (which may have resembled yours truly flailing around in the water whilst trying to blow up an airbag and not let the kayak float away). Nonetheless, nobody drowned or fell to a horrible death.

Monday night saw the ever popular Camas invasion of Iona. The younger folk set up camp at the Macleod centre, whilst the older folk established their own camp a few miles away at the campsite where they even cooked their own dinner. Reports suggest that they can cook pasta. The two groups rejoined that evening to show Iona just how a Ceilidh is danced. Although I was not there in person, I have heard through a reliable source that everybody danced and got very sweaty. Well done Camas, that’s how it’s done.

After a slightly soggy journey home, the rest of the week seemed to swim by. Shelters were built, cricket played, treasure hunted, cricket played, rafts raced, art made and, well, more cricket played. Oh and also lots of Articulate! One highlight in particular was Thursdays boat trip on the B. Marie; with a beautiful sunny day and not a wave on the ocean, conditions were perfect for lazing and fishing (perhaps not so good for sailing though).

With literally a few mackerel caught, preparations were soon underway for the evenings Camas challenge. The decorations team ensured that the common room was looking very swanky indeed. The kitchen team excelled themselves to produce a choice of three beautifully cooked Curries from the hatch, with high praise going to the fish option I must say; all creating a rather memorable dinner.

After a very well planned reflection we all enjoyed (or at least watched) the evenings entertainment. Hosted by a dubious looking Jeremy Clarkson, Strictly Come Camas was packed with many memorable dance routines, all with helpful feedback from a select judging panel. In true showbiz fashion, the show was interjected with a commercial break and a news, sport and weather bulletin offering a helpful roundup of the week’s events and nearly resulting in a fire!

You may also be relieved to hear that after much anticipation, Robs mum visited at the end of the week, bringing with her two monkey suits. Now Josef and I can join Rob in pretending to be wild animals and behaving suitably disgracefully. Thanks Robs mum!

Overall I speak for all still at Camas in saying that this week was much fun, and shall be fondly remembered for some time. We are looking forward to seeing you all again!

Captain Adam.