Saturday, 30 July 2011


What happens when you bring together three generations of a Scottish family and a conglomeration of refugees and asylum seekers from various parts of Africa?

magic. Or god.

This was a week of community-building in the truest sense of the word; two disparate groups that spent the week living, working, eating, playing together, crossing cultural boundaries, learning from each other, and moving beyond stereotypes.

It was awe-inspiring to watch these two groups interact and build relationships. They all got on really well with each other, the kids playing together, the older ones taking care of the younger ones, everyone looking out for one another.

It was quite a change of pace from the previous 4 weeks of intense, high-energy youth groups! Our youngest participant was just over a year old, and our oldest was, well, Sally Beaumont, long-time Iona Community member and young-at-heart grandma - with all ages in between.

We had great fun getting messy in the finger-paints and turning the craft room into art gallery; escaping from the porridge monster in the jungle late at night; hunting for slightly damp treasure; and making all sorts of discoveries on the beach - there are SO many different kinds of seaweed, some that looks like plastic, and some that has bubbles!

We were blessed with a full week of beautiful sunny weather, which allowed everyone the chance to go kayaking and abseiling – even the 5-7 year olds gave it a go! – and swim to their hearts’ content. A fantastic day was spent playing on the white sandy beaches near Ardalanish farm – even grandmother Jaja went into the ocean, for the first time in her life. On a sunny Thursday morning, I walked outside to see a mix of 5 or 6 adults doing yoga together on the lawn, and folks could always be found reading in the sunshine, honing their table tennis skills, or expanding their vocabulary with Bananagrams.

For many, the highlight of the week was the raft-building competition. Or at least, for the women who won the race!

everyone in the water!

The week ended with a bit of magic: a delicious feast of curries and perfect chapatis cooked up in the kitchen after at emergency shop run at 5pm; a demonstration of magic card tricks by the youngsters (and Adam); and the magic of new friends and enduring relationships, which I’m sure they will continue to enjoy back home in Glasgow.


PS - the most dramatic event of the week was the sudden and shocking demise of one of our dearly beloved bearded men. that is to say, Kieran's beard has now become part of the compost instead of part of his face. two down, two to go. will Hamish make it to end?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Happenin' pal?

Back at Camas (briefly the sunshine capital of Scotland), we had a dyno week with a group fay Glasgow. We opened proceedings with an afternoon of cricket on the lawn. Rob had the tekkers, Becky had the butterfingers and Hamish went for the dive, despite the sheep poo, and got the catch. That is the kind of commitment we like to see and it continued with a blinding, leap of a move in Ninja Mega Destruction (you know who you are, young grasshopper). Clearly, there were great things to come but...

It was not without challenge. The homecooked, homegrown food here proved unappealing (boggin' was the more polite term used) for some but turns out that's not a problem if you've packed your bodyweight in chocolate, pot noodle, juice and sweets in your rucksack. They showed us what real food is when they served us up chips 'n' curry the final evening. Pure healfy, Man! Thankfully they spared our Camas chickens from the pot.

On Monday, Josef, Becky and Hamish took the group for a camp out and ceilidh on Iona. It was the best time at North End Beach catching frisbee, barefoot football, bocce and sunset. Dullion!
Not that we can forget dancing with the ladies at the village ceilidh. Made a great impression there, lads. Unfortunately, Becky took a belter to her heed the next morning but nae bother, it was bacon rolls all round and back to Camas, happy.

Returning from an Iona, there was a really good atmosphere and top weather for the rest of the week. The epic game of Blobfish, fishing out at sea, the patter ("Gonnae dae that"), the bog dodging. Then, there was the titanic raft race. Did it matter who won in the end? Depends which raft you were on, maybe! But the real finish was with everyone jumping off the wall. Pure heavy belter!

Finally, big thanks to you all for helping me out with the wee dictionary of Glaswegian. It's come in well handy this week:

"Don't get wide, ya wee dafty!"



Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Frisbee, fishing and facial hair

This week we welcomed a group of kids from a youth club in Edinburgh down the track. The group struggled with certain parts of the week, including the chores and the vegetarian food, but got into other things, especially swimming across the bay at high tide, jumping off the wall over and over again, then swimming back while begging for a tow from one of the safety kayaks!

One highlight for me was the wild camping trip. We packed our heavy bags full of tents, clothes, sleeping bags and food, walked up the track then drove to Knockvologan farm, stopping at Fionnphort's Ferry Shop on the way so they could stock up on some essentials (crisps). Some found the walk from Knockvologan along the coast difficult and it was slow going but eventually we made it to the lovely beach campsite. We spent a pleasant evening watching the sun set, playing hacky sack and bocce, and sitting around the driftwood fire toasting marshmallows. The next morning we managed to pack up and get going despite the rain, and headed back into Camas, stopping for an involved session of the German Foot Game in which Maddie managed to split her waterproof trousers!
The week included a lot of time spent throwing things: the frisbee, the hula hoop over the fishing pole, rocks at the bell, plus the odd tantrum. At other points we had mini table tennis tournaments, built a raft and a shelter, learnt guitar chords and imitated each others' accents and slang. The boys had a go at fishing with improvised fishing rods made from wool and paperclips.

At the moment the ground around Mull is covered with all sorts of wildflowers, including about 50 different kinds of small yellow flowers that are just about impossible to distinguish from one another.
Most of the Camas men have been busy over the past few weeks with another activity on top of all the camping, cooking, cleaning, abseiling and kayaking: not shaving. With the exception of Rob 'quitter' Stevens, we're all doing our best to end the season with thick, bushy beards. Wish us luck and check back here regularly for detailed beard bulletins.

Thanks to the group for an interesting week and thanks to you for reading!
- Hamish

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Penicuik Invasion!

After a couple of calm work weeks the centre was being prepared for a mass invasion by a group from Penicuik. The camas staff set off down the track and were met by a group of 28 enthusiastic people ready to throw everything in to fun filled week! It is fair to say that cooking for 40 people was a great challenge!

After the group had settled in and spent their first night at camas, they were ready to start on all of the activities the centre has to offer! The activities unfortunately had to take a rain check as the first day was met with miserable weather! The children were not put off by the weather and enjoyed games such as ninja mega destruction and the rope game. The next day allowed for the groups to get in the water in the Kayaks and down the wall in the quarry! Later on in the week the group took a short trip down the road to Ardalanish, where they enjoyed looking round and then spent time on the beach playing games.

The week had run past us and it came for the group to set up a night of entertainment for the staff! With a wonderful meal cooked and consumed, a great last reflection, the group took great pleasure in watching Josef and Tom sock wrestle! Josef coming out the undefeated champion! The group then shared songs round a camp fire. The week drew to an end. It was a very enjoyable week, it was great to have Penicuik here!

Many thanks to Tom Wardle who came to help out the camas staff for a week!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Work Weeks!

Hello Bloggers!

It has been a while so there is quite a bit to update you all on. After our group left us from Sheffield, we were left with two weeks of graft ahead of us! There is always plenty to do! Starting Sunday 12th June, the staff started on the maintenance list hoping that within the next couple of weeks there would be plenty of items that could be ticked off.

During the first week, the camas staff were joined by some lovely volunteers, who put a lot of effort and energy in to the week! We also had some guests over from Iona, they also worked very hard and really enjoyed the feel of Camas. The weather was also on our side this week, so it was all hands on deck for work in the garden. The garden had taken a battering from the weather in the past few weeks, but with the hard work from volunteers and staff over the next couple of weeks the Garden was transformed! A new bed was created, all of the existing beds were rejuvenated and given a fresh bit of life!

As the first week ended and the guests departed, there was a real sense of achievement as a productive week had justbeen completed. This left a real excitement around Camas for the second work week!

The second week yet again blessed us with some fantastic weather and another set of fantastic volunteers, ready and willing to help! It was again nice to have people over from Iona so they can see how this side of the Iona community lives and works. With people scattered around the garden working hard, other tasks such as painting and cleaning were to be done! This was very well supported by Liz Patterson who is the convienor of the Camas committee. She stepped in to hold Camas together for a few days while the Camas residents were off on a course!

As both of the work weeks came to an end, all of the Camas staff were reunited as a team again and had to prepare for the invasion of a full centre the following day. The past two weeks were full of laughter and hard work, it was amazing getting to know so many different people. We cannot thank you enough for the effort everyone has put in!

Bring on the group from Penicuik...............