Saturday, February 9, 2008
Our Lady of Lourdes Camp 2008
The annual camp for the traditional Catholic girls of New Zealand was held from December 31st 2007 until January 5th 2008 at the YMCA camp at Raukawa Falls, about a one hour drive north of Wanganui.
The camp was organised by Father Cranshaw with the help of two Dominican Sisters - Sr Mary Madeleine and Sr Mary Rose and two other helpers, both teachers at our school. Early Monday morning everyone set off to arrive at the site by 10am. The Sisters had a bit of a delay as Father asked them (just before departure) to purchase party poppers and marshmallows for the activities to be held on the last night of camp. (Might just add that the party poppers were never actually used in the end after all of the effort to purchase them.) After half an hour of searching the shops for party poppers the Sisters were then able to set off. Upon their arrival many campers were already there ready to unpack and to be sorted into cabins and teams. Father arrived about half an hour later with a van full of the necessities for saying Mass (altar, candles and vestments), sports equipment, tents etc. In all, there were twenty girls from Wanganui, Hamilton and Auckland.
The girls were sorted into their teams. There were four teams of five, each with their special patron and team cry. We chose to place the camp under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes as this year is the 150th anniversary of the first apparition at Lourdes. Each of the teams were named after Our Lady. Sr Madeleine’s team was Our Lady of Fatima with the cry “Pray and make sacrifices”, Sr Rose’s team was called Our Lady of Guadalupe with the cry “Build my church”, Mr Foster’s team was Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal with the cry “Come to the foot of the altar” and the fourth team was named Our Lady of Victory with the cry “St Mary of Victory”.
Throughout the camp points were allocated for different activities and the team with the most points at the end of the camp won a box of chocolates. The team cries were for the line ups. Whenever the bell was rung the girls had to run to the basketball court, line up in their teams and yell their team cry and the first team to have all of their members lined up shouting the team cry won points for their team.
Two cabins separated into three rooms with four beds in each were allocated to us for the girls to sleep in – one red the other purple. Two teams went in one and the other two shared the other. The supervisors each had their own cabin.
After choosing their beds and unpacking their belongings the girls were given a brief safety talk about the camp site by John the camp coordinator with the help of Robyn who did the cooking for us. The girls then had free time until twelve. Everyone went to try out the flying fox (including the Sisters) and some went to check out the swimming hole. After a hearty lunch of subway style sandwiches the girls had free time until two and then played softball and relays between their teams to gain points. The Sisters then took the girls for a ten minute walk to the Raukawa Falls which was followed by swimming in the river before saying the rosary in the make do chapel at 5.30.
The meals were eaten in the gym. The girls sat in their teams and each day different teams were appointed to help with serving the meals and doing the dishes and clean up afterwards. The camp coordinators were very impressed with the girls and said that they were the best group of girls that they had ever had. There was a very pleasant atmosphere among the girls which made the camp a great success. There were a few pranks – like sunscreen being put onto girls’ faces while they were sleeping but nothing too serious.
At 8pm Father gave the girls a talk on Rose Hue who lived in China under the Communist Regime. He gave a talk each day on this topic. The girls found it very interesting. This was followed by a camp fire and camp songs played by Mr Foster on his guitar.
Being New Year’s eve we wanted to see in the New Year and Father was to say the first Mass in the world for 2008 (as of course New Zealand is ahead of the rest of the world timewise) so we had to keep the girls occupied until midnight. We played spotlight until about 11.45pm and then gathered in the chapel to prepare for Mass. We started Mass by singing the Veni Creator and Father gave a lovely sermon on how things which begin well end well with reference to being able to start the new year with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There is no better way to start a new year. We went to bed at about 1.30am and we were able to rise a bit later in the morning having breakfast at 9am.
There was skipping in the morning followed by a talk by Father and organised games. In the afternoon there was a siesta followed by team challenges and the low ropes course, kayaking/canoeing and swimming with a qualified supervisor. Each evening we had benediction and rosary at 5.30pm followed by dinner. The Sisters gave a presentation on their trip to France and America in January 2007 and then night prayers were said and everyone went to bed.
Wednesday was the most adventurous day. The girls rose at 6.30 and went for a quick jog before getting dressed for Mass. Breakfast was at 8 and then everyone prepared their own packed lunch and sleeping gear for our day hike and overnight camp at Atene. We piled into four vehicles with our backpacks, lunch, dinner and breakfast and set off at about 9.30am. We arrived at the beginning of our track at about 11am. The track is quite a difficult one but everyone made it to the end with the last group arriving about one hour after the rest. It took seven and a half hours to complete with many stops along the way. Even our youngest camper accomplished this great task. The first aid kit was well used with three sprained ankles to attend to, many splinters to remove and blisters to burst. The main attraction for the girls was the swim that Father had promised them when they had completed the track. That was the only thing that kept them going. The first to complete the track were driven to the campsite to set up the tents. Water was scarce so the souls in purgatory really benefited that day. Everyone went for a swim at about 9pm, night prayers were said and then everyone retired to their sleeping bags and pretty much went to sleep straight away. Fortunately there were no dramas. There was a plan to tip Father’s hammock while he was sleeping – only problem was that no one knew where he was sleeping.
The next morning everyone was woken up by Father’s whistle and a few were dragged out of their tents in their sleeping bags. After breakfast we took down the tents and packed everything into the vehicles and drove back to the camp site. The need to shower has never been so inviting. Father said Mass at 11 and then we had a quiet afternoon of orienteering and swimming. That night the girls played rounders in the gym followed by an evening talk and everyone looked forward to their beds after a very tiring day. It was hard to believe that Friday was so close. Time just flew as everyone was having so much fun.
In the morning we played softball in our different teams and after lunch the each team built a raft from 3 tyres and 3 strings which they raced on the river. We also had a go at archery and two bulls eyes were achieved by two of the supervisors. In the evening the girls provided us with entertainment by performing some skits in their different teams and even Father and Mr Foster sang a song for us accompanied by the guitar. Father gave a slide show of all of the photos and videos he had taken of the camp and then the Sisters left after being hugged by nearly every girl on camp. It was such a moving sight to see. The girls played night games and sung songs around the camp fire and toasted marshmallows and got to bed at about midnight.
Saturday was filled with a few games to gain those last minute points for each team and of course clean up in the afternoon. Just before departure each girl was presented with a “Little Miss” certificate awarded to them for a particular trait which they exhibited on camp for example “Little Miss Competitive” for the girl who always had to have her say about the umpiring of games. The girls returned home all very happy and excited with plans to go on next year’s camp. Even the Sisters eagerly await the next one!