The last few weeks has been pretty busy, mainly with DofE related activity, and I’ve been “off the grid” running some training expeditions on Mull for the last fortnight. The opportunity to undertake this work came up fairly late in the day, thanks to the happy coming together of a generous funder and a cancellation at the Camas Centre on Mull.
The first week involved a mixed group of Silver and Bronze getting two days of training and team building before heading out on an overnight trip which took them from Glen More to Lochbuie, then along the coast to Carsaig. The first day’s walking was pretty straightforward walking, if a little boggy in places, and we made good time to a quiet little spot on the beach near Lochbuie where we squeezed in 5 tents and gathered some deadwood for a little camp fire to help keep the midges at bay. Day 2 took us through some fairly dramatic surroundings, with tall cliffs rearing up on our right as we made our way along a narrow strip of rocky coastline. The early morning rain soon cleared, and by lunchtime, we were walking in brilliant sunshine which took its toll on energy levels as the day wore on.
The second week was largely a repeat of week one, although this time we had a larger group entirely made up of Bronze level DofE’ers. There were some comedy moments on the first day, as a stiff breeze blowing in off the sea made our “setting up your tent” session a bit more of a challenge than the previous week. Despite this, the guys did a great job of wrestling uncooperative nylon into a useable shelter for the night 🙂 The expedition followed the same route as the previous week, although there were fresh challenges from a group management point of view thanks to a cloudless sky and several group members with an irrational aversion to using Factor 50 sunscreen. As a result, there were some very red faces and arms on show when we rolled into camp. With a week’s practice under my belt, I’m happy to report that, whereas the previous week I’d been forced to admit defeat and use a lighter to get the fire going, this time I conjured up an atmospheric driftwood fire on the beach using nothing but a fire steel and some conveniently placed bog cotton. The midges were pretty grim at the campsite when we woke up, and I decided to get up and go, stopping a bit further along the coast for a late breakfast in a location that caught enough breeze to keep things pleasant. The rest of the morning was spent making our way towards Carsaig through a very atmospheric sea haar, with the sun finally breaking through at lunchtime. Strangely, there was less resistance this time when the Factor 50 came out, and we had several stops for reapplication as we made our way towards the rendezvous with the minibus at Carsaig past dramatic cliffs, tumbling waterfalls and lush vegetation that looks like the set for Jurassic Park.
Overall, we had a couple of great weeks; lots of challenges for the young people involved with some real testing moments for individuals in both groups. On both weeks,it was good to see a growing competence in the ‘hard skills’ like camp craft and navigation, but especially encouraging to see young people stepping up and supporting each other through difficult moments, carrying out more of the group management themselves, rather than relying on the leaders to do it for them. Both groups did really well, and hopefully they’re all sitting back in Glasgow, slapping on the after sun and excited for the next trip in the summer holidays.
BIG THANKS as well, for the support and enthusiasm of John and his team at Camas who were great to work with and a pretty chilled out group of people, living in a pretty special part of the world!