The Camp Experience

Dumisile Mtambo (Zimbabwe, UWC AC 2011-2013)

It was the first year show amidst that awkwardly stimulating first experience of finally being seated pleasurably in the Tythe Barn that set in motion the endless recollection of the lovely camp experience many still want to go back to.

The sudden whim of excitement that inexplicably engulfed me whilst they announced “camp king” got me hooked on something that would not get me expelled from school but maybe get me kicked out of English class the next day because it grew tiring to comment on Piggy’s apparent intelligence after being ravaged by its effects the night before classes. As fate would have it, I remember thinking to myself, “That’s not my name,” after the not so surprising result, as it seemed, was announced which in absolute fairness was a reasonable outcome. That is when I thought back, as if I were in my 90’s struggling to remember the days of my fun-filled youth.

The coasteering, surfing and other activities I lazily did not mention, for obvious reasons. Downtrodden in my entirely hilarious despair of not being picked as camp king, I reminisced about the first experience of forcing myself into a wetsuit that was clearly not the right fit struggling through my ignorance on how to get it on the right way and how I questioned each time, why it was absolutely necessary for me to get wet whilst unluckily placed in such horrid weather. However in an old fashioned Oliver Twist manner I found myself begging for coasteering seconds obviously due to the fact that it was the most delightful adrenalin filled adventure that I would have gladly repeated come what may. This coming from a teen accustomed to basking in the sometimes-harsh African sun, believe me, there must be something awesome about it. I remembered the surfing which I was surprisingly good at, that was supposedly apart of Lifeguards induction which immediately got me hell-bent on becoming a lifeguard until I fell in love with ‘Betty’ -the ILB B-Boat, which is a Romeo finds Juliet story for another occasion. The beauty of the coastline as well as the surrounding area was perfect for the more calm adventures we had during environmental work and the walk. Insightful and inspiring are words that come to mind when contemplating what it meant to be outdoors within the eclectic mix of AC’s diverse personalities, from the crazy to the sweet and shy. How the “thou shall not shower,” rule was survived and what it meant to see what mankind’s stupidity was destroying each second.

The silly games that everyone grew to love, the creation of new friendships and meting the other clueless new students and how sixteen-year-old me would not have imagined the newly seventeen-year-old self as mature in drawing a priceless lesson from the experience at camp, were just a fraction of the beauty that is UWC and what we stand for. For that and more first year camp is engraved in the memories of all of those who shared it such that I know I’m going to be a camp leader next year!

– United Words –

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