Camp Diary – “Live Learn & Play: Summer of 09”
By Sr Sarah Sungkar
Day 1 – Friday 9th January 2009
As soon as I heard that there was going to be a Muslim camp catered for sisters, I signed up. I didn’t know where, when, how long, or what I was in for.
We were entertained by nasheeds on the way to the Berry Recreation centre. We left 15 minutes after the scheduled time. Not bad.
Life outside Bankstown? It’s true. There’s Berry. The grass is greener; the sky is bluer, and the air fresher. Actually, it smelt like cow manure.
We dropped our bags at the recreation centre and Neville; our bus driver drove us to the local park. We played a couple of challenging team building games and ended with a game of cricket, Newcomb ball and soccer depending on our gender. As we walked back to the centre we were greeted by flies and the beautiful Berry scenery. We passed by old country cottages, green hills and dairy cows.
The Berry Recreation Centre. We finally arrived.
We ran to our cabins and chose our favourite rooms. We unpacked, freshened up and headed towards our first workshop on Gender Relations and Marriage led by Dr. Zachariah Matthews.
Day 2 – Saturday 10th January 2009
We couldn’t sleep. New room, New smell. We knew we would regret it next morning. We woke up, made our wudhu and walked down to our designated prayer room. I don’t remember much except that I was cold. Afterwards we read Quran together. We had a short nap, while most of us showered and prepared ourselves for breakfast.
Hot breakfast. Sausages, hash browns, toast, just what we needed.
I could live here.
Activity One- Kayaking
Our instructors told us that if we ‘accidentally’ capsized that it would be okay because our life jackets would keep us afloat. She also told us how to ‘accidentally’ capsize i.e. to stand on the kayak, to ‘accidentally’ do the Macarena on the kayak or to ‘accidentally’ rock the boat aggressively. So that is exactly what we did. Our instructor then told us if we wanted to capsize we should wait until we were closer to the wharf to make their jobs easier. So we did that too. Kayaking at Berry was beautiful. Some of us had kayaked, some hadn’t, and it was obvious who hadn’t. Those sisters were stuck in the grass reeds most of the time.
Activity Two- The High Ropes Course
I looked up. A thin rope, tyres and a net. The wind was so strong. We put on our harnesses while the instructors were telling us some very vital pieces of information. Unfortunately I was too terrified to hear what they were saying. It was my turn, the sister in front of me made it look easy. I climbed up the pole and reluctantly stepped onto the rope. The rope was too thin. I straggled along and looked down. Sisters were screaming out words of encouragement. The cruel wind was rocking me back and forth. I kept going. My knees were buckling and my teeth were chattering. The wind blew me back and I was hanging on for dear life. I had enough, I let go. Did I overcome my fear of heights? I’m sure it made it worse. The pirate ship is a walk in the park compared to the high ropes course. But I should mention most of the sisters made it all the way! Yay!
Day 3 – Sunday 11th January 2009
The 6am workshop was about Contemporary “Muslim” Issues. It was inspiring and enlightening.
Activity Three- Rock Climbing
We were harnessed up and instructed on how to best and safely climb the wall. The wall climb tested our strength and agility, we still had it. We had competitions on how fast we could reach the summit. The adrenalin was still pumping from the day before and we were swinging on the ropes and doing kicks and half flips in mid air.
Activity Four- Giant Swing
More ropes and more harnesses. The giant swing was definitely a favourite during camp. While about 10 sisters pull on a rope that raises you up, it’s up to you when you pull on the release cord. The longer we wait to pull the cord, the higher we go and the greater the swing. My turn was up. The scenery was stunning but it had distracted me and I had reached the highest point, it was too late to pull the release prematurely. I felt anxiety at its fullest. I closed my eyes and pulled the cord. I swung so hard and fast. I yelled until I couldn’t breathe.
I didn’t want the camp weekend to end. I could live with the sore muscles, the terror and the sleep deprivation. We boarded the bus, and most of us fell fast asleep.
It’s now Monday. Sure I’m exhausted and my eyelids are half closed. And sure my body feels about 100 years old. But I miss my fly friends, I miss the smell of cow manure and I miss the new friends I made.
The FAMSY camp was definitely the best fun I’ve had in a long time. I can’t wait to do it all over again!