Sunday, 28 August 2011

"I asked the man in the shop for a cup that would keep me brew warm"

Feeling inspired by our fantastic guests last week, Rosie, her brother and I went in the sea for a pre-breakfast swim today and by heck was it cold. It has also inspired me to write this and let you all know about the brilliant fun that we shared with the crew from Macc last week.

We welcomed them all after their epic all night drive from the middle of England just after lunch. We were looking forward to catching up with some old Camas friends who were leading and young leading the group as well as getting to know all the new faces too, and what lovely faces they all were, old and new!

The week was full of all the usual Camas activities with a nice northern English twist. We kayaked and capsized (a lot) in the bay, abseiled the quarry wall (including some impressive climbs too-I've never seen anyone get as high as some of them last week!), constructed sturdy shelters in the garden, built the most impressive (and successful) rafts (which I'm sure had absolutely nothing to so with the 2 past, abseiling Camas staff on the teams...), a trip on the B Marie brought home a couple of fish and we had a record breaking round of "The Pirates of the Hebridean" the treasure hunt. We also spent a brilliant afternoon competing in Camas' very own Highland Games. Four teams (including a Camas staff team of Autumn, Rachel, Hamish and Adam) competed for honour in four different events including the classics: welly throwing, a sheaf toss, a tug-of-war and a special relay race to dress a blindfolded team member in kayaking gear and guiding them to sit in a kayak ready to go. The event was won by the aptly named "We are top of the league" (closely followed by Team Camas I might add...we need to work on bulking out our tug of war team me thinks).
We were impressed on many counts: firstly by the bravery of the early morning swimmers and a speciall congratulations to the "Iron Persons" among you who made it in the sea EVERY morning; secondly we've never haad so many "brews" consumed, some were enjoyed in special mugs and some in not so special mugs (we'd never thought to go and ask a man in a shop for a "cup that would keep me brew warm", inspired, we will now though); thirdly by the amount of fish caught off our own island by a team of very dedicated and skilled fishermen-we definitely enjoyed the steady supply of Camas Bay Mackerel, thanks guys! I have also never witnessed (or taken part in) such competitive and vicious games of jungle speed and articulate but they were a brilliant way to end the days around the fire with some beautiful guitar playing and singing in the background.

The week was perfectly finished off with delicious food in a dazzling common room, followed by a lovely chapel of the nets' reflection and rounded off with the most amazing candlelit ceilidh with a fantastic band, who knew you could dance the Gay Gordons to "Rocking all over the world"? We do!

It was a pleasure to have you all and we are already looking forward to you all coming back. We are very grateful for the one you left behind who has been super useful around Camas before he disappeared off to Iona...

Hoping you all survived the loooong trip home-I'll be seeing you there very soon!


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Hogwarts Express

The mission to find the dubious Prof Lockheart has been completed. All Hogwarts staff can step down from stilts and discard their long, shaggy beards to reveal...more beards, but at least recognisable ruddy camas faces.

Thanks to the visiting Community Kids we have had a particularly magical week. Spells were fired from the island to the newly constructed shelters on the last night. Other than that brooms have been used mainly for sweeping, bogs for jumping into, or singing in, and the glockenspiel mainly for practicing the Potter theme; so much so that by the end of the week it had dissapperated itself to the staff room and could be heard no more. Peace for the challenge kitchen crew who filled the star bound hall with yummy food.

“Floating in a kayak, on a windy day, looking for some seaweed games to play

Jelly in the face, y big disgrace, waving that paddle all over the place

Singin... we will we will kayak....”

Could be heard through the dreecht by any walkers heading down the track, and passing our particularly musical peat digging session, as more verses were added to the famous ‘We will Dig You.’ Plenty of chocolate cake and tea were consumed and we even managed to fill 5 peat drying panels – strong workers!

As the song suggests, the weather blew a gale, but that didn’t stop a blustery boat ride on the B Marie, and all the usual activities. We now have stones covered in clouds where blackbirds fly, and detailed camas scenes, painted whilst sheltering in the art room. We also have enough plate spinners to make our own side-show at the circus.

PiƱatas were crashed apart exploding popcorn through the room, and many party games were played for a Birthday during the week. Indiana Jones visited the group at market bay- and completed every challenge they set for him. So with that completed – I will sign off.

Your Muggle correspondent: Rosie Speaken

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A Quick Word about the Bunessan Show!

It would be impossible to talk about the last week without adding in a brief word about the Bunessan show on Saturday. The sun was shining on the white tents strewn about the fields surrounding the Bunessan Primary School, and everyone was in good spirits as they milled around eating cake, looking at the livestock and horseriding, watching duck herding, perusing the craft stalls, listening to the Mull Pipe and Drum Band, and watching the men compete in the tossing of the sheaf. Camas made a fair number of entries to the show this year, but while we spent the day congratulating some of our friends for winning awards for carrots, scones, and lemon curd cakes we sadly didn't have any awards of our own to celebrate this year. Oh well, next year's entries planning will commence ASAP, so watch out 2012 Bunessan Show!
The day capped off with an AMAZING ceilidh in the Bunessan village hall, so we all put on our dancing shoes and literally danced till we dropped about 1:45am. Needless to say, it was a LONG walk down the track in the dark at 2am, but well worth the amazing day that was had by all.

Remembering the Old and Celebrating the New...

New Members that is! This past week we had a lovely bunch of eager adults in their first or second year of the New Members Programme for joining the Iona Community come down the track for a week of joining together to share in food, fellowship, reflection, and the common task!

As George MacLeod used to say, “A demanding common task builds community,” and let me tell you we had some demanding tasks for the new members to tackle as they spent their mornings working alongside the Camas staff to give the centre some MUCH needed TLC. No task was too great for this lot... no stove back plate stuck on too tight (given the right tools and blowtorch), no track planks too rotted (thanks to the amazing wood scavenging skills of a select few), no wetsuit too torn, and no garden bed too wild. Paintbrushes and weeds were flying until Thursday afternoon when we were still pulling folk away from their tasks to get packed up and ready for Camas Challenge.

We were able to pull a few folks away from their “demanding common tasks” in the afternoons throughout the week for all the usual Camas activities of kayaking, abseiling (in the rain no less), and raft building (best not ask the boys how that went). A surprising number of the New Members were early risers, so many spent their free time in the mornings before breakfast going for walks to the Trig Point, Market Bay, and various other hilltops as well. A few brave souls even went for a swim or two!

Evening sessions with Peter MacDonald were reported to have been deep and meaningful, and the staff enjoyed having a bit of a light evening work schedule for a change. Hot Chocolate, live music, and chatting filled the common room in the evenings, and the company was as warm and inviting as the candlelight!

The week finished in style with a Camas Challenge that resembled a Christmas feast! Banquet style tables and a four course “A La Carte” menu left everyone overstuffed and only fit for remaining seated to enjoy the entertainment which flowed in around the meal and evening reflection. It was fitting to end the week with such a celebration... for the community that we formed over the week, the community that brought us all together (either as members or staff), and for the second year New Members who would be going across the water the next day to be welcomed as full members of the Iona Community. We as staff wish them all the best during the “Deathly Hallowing” service, and look forward, as ever, for next year when we will again join together for a week with the 2012 New Members.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Royston came to Camas, and this is a belated story about it....

Sometime in July the Royston youth group came to visit Camas for a week. It has been a dizzying sort of Summer and somewhere along the way the person who was supposed to write about the event (myself) forgot all about it. Nevertheless, after some prodding in the right direction there is a laptop in front of me and I find myself remembering what a great week it was, and it's a great pleasure to write about it.

When everyone arrived it was still quite early in the day and we did the Camas tour and got everyone familiar with the place, then there was a mass expedition to the islands to search for as many aquatic creatures as possible. Standing a little off in the distance I was thoroughly impressed by a resourcefulness and enthusiasm that I couldn't have expected. There were gathered as many devices as possible to turn over rocks and discover what was living underneath them, and with brilliant creatures were, well, discovered. A crab, some minnows, and what might have been crayfish... my memory is a little foggy. I was impressed. I think we all were.

Everyone settled in quite well. Our not too great understanding of Glasgow lingo and the liveliness of everyone weren't all that easy alongside each other but the day started off with a bang regardless.

The following day we had a morning of shelter building out beside the Camas garden. The group leaders and the group itself split into two groups with interesting results. The leaders' shelter was a highly efficient emergency shelter built close to the ground and built in the shape of a triangle to stop wild animals like wolves and badgers from getting in. To try it out we all got inside, about eighteen of us altogether, and had a bit of trouble getting out! It was safe but not really the best place to have a cup of tea without spilling it on someone.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group had built a high ceilinged, spacious- and furnished!- shelter which, although a little exposed and all the rest, was perfect for cups of tea. With seating for more than ten it was ideal for picnics and maybe the two went well together: one shelter for when the wolves are around, and one for when they've gotten tired. It was all in all a good morning to be out in the garden making things out of sticks and twigs.

The group left for Iona, where the rest of the Iona community lives, later in the afternoon after a spot of lunch and we had a good deal lugging around the Camas tents but managed our way up the track in the end. We hopped on the ferry after a short drive and bobbed towards the island, where we regrouped to get ice creams from the shop. We followed the road up to the Iona camp site and relaxed for a while. We played some frisbee with a roaming dog that must have belonged to the campsite owner, but soon after discovering a dead frisbee which was chewed up and not really a frisbee anymore I quickly hid it in a more secure spot. Camas has had too much bother with frisbees, I thought to myself.

Then we got out the camp stoves to make a bit of dinner. It took a while but we all managed to eat something in the end. We left to make a visit to the Abbey and we were treated to the "Adam Small tour", filled with spooky stories and mysterious tales. We got inside the Abbey and ,though we were all a little restless, it was a good tour all in all. We then left to go to the weekly Ceilidh at the village hall, and though we almost didn't go, we did and we had a good time all in all. Nothing like a Ceilidh really. There was a good feeling in the air at the end of the night and we all tucked into our respective tents after a suprisingly long evening reflection. It was quite windy but at least the tents were still all in the same spot at the end of the night.

The rest of the week was just as exciting over at Camas and we had some competitve swimming and raft races, abseiling and kayaking, and a lot of getting-to-know-yous, and getting along quite swimmingly. One of the leaders had a birthday after the Iona trip and we had some delicious chocolate cake- two as a matter of fact.

The most exciting time of the week, I would say, was the Thursday Camas challenge where we handed Camas over to the group. A delicious dinner followed and then some extraordinary entertainments with Royston's own "Has Camas Got Talent" variety show. There were flutes fluting, guitars strumming, and ukuleles plinking, and there were some jokes told and some pretty eccentric performances including an unlikely meeting between William tell and a tiger that walked on its hind legs. There was much merriment and dancing and that evening of colour and liveliness still lingers in all of our memories.

It was sad to see everyone leave but there is always next year and then the year after. We shall miss everyone but thanks for the memories.