Well, this “solo” hiker sure isn’t short on company at the moment! This weekend I took my son to his first scout camp and we had a lovely hike together, just me, him, and thirty others!
Glenrock Scout camp near Newcastle lies on The Great North Walk so I had been there before and was thrilled to be able to spend the weekend exploring the area with my son. It was a fairly relaxed camp with lots of games and free time. We spent the afternoon at the beach on the first day. It was such a good location!
On the Sunday, after breakfast, we all gathered at a spot called “Reflection Point” where we spent some time sharing what we were thankful for, with any subject permitted. We had a moment of quiet to reflect on what was important to us, but all I could hear was bellbirds and I just wanted to head into the forest to be among them. Fortunately that was just what were all to do next!
He wasn’t into it. The start of the hike was steep and he just wanted to keep playing games on the field. The start of the hike was a steep climb, it was hot, and my son was already over it. After complaining heavily of being tired he suddenly perked up and dashed ahead to walk with one of his friends. I tried to catch up but there was too far ahead so I left him to it. At least he was now enjoying himself.
The trail flattened out and we crossed a creek to join up to the Yuelarbah track (Great North Walk) and noticed some people in the water further down. I didn’t pay much attention as my eyes were on my son as he crossed over the water. As we came around the other side I could see they were two scantily clad ladies being photographed in front of a small cascade. My son told me that they were acting like tigers in front of the waterfall. He was right, they were doing a lot of posing in their underwear. One of the other Dads said that this part of the hike was for us Dads. They stopped posing once they realised so many kids were around.
We soon came upon a lookout where the view was spectacular. We could see all the way along the valley to where the creek became a lagoon, and the lagoon met the sand, and the sand met the sea. The clearing for the scout camp was visible on the right and we had come quite a way already and had much farther to go. There was some signage that told of the coal mining history of the valley. We rested here and one of the leaders handed out lollies which the kids loved. A few had dropped through the grating of the lookout and some kids crawled underneath to try to “rescue” them. The leaders pulled them back under control and we resumed the hike.
My son was hit by a branch so we had a moment together while he recovered then he bounded off to the front of the group again. I saw one of the old mine shafts, which I may not have recognised if I had not read the signage at the lookout. We passed a few runners and other hikers and could soon hear the waves crashing on to the beach. We popped out of the forest onto the sand. There was a coal seam in the cliffs next to the beach. The day before, when we had spent the afternoon at this beach, I had fascinated my son by telling him that the large black pebbles he had collected were actually lumps of coal that had likely come from that seam. He went around telling all the other kids what he had found. We had tried to dig a channel connecting the lagoon to the ocean and today we could see that some other kids were trying the same thing. It’s a wonder that there wasn’t a permanent channel there with all that digging!
We did not have time to play long on the beach this time as the hike was a full loop and all kids had to be accounted for so we couldn’t just go our own way. So we carried on hiking back to the scout camp where we all rested and ate the fresh fruit that the remaining leaders had put out for us.
It was a lovely hike that went at a slightly higher pace than is natural for me. Those kids are fast! I guess I’m not twenty anymore. I had a lovely time at the scout camp and it was nice to sit around the campfire at night singing songs and spending time with my son. His highlight was campfire and the beach and the ladies pretending to be tigers. My highlight was him telling me that!