Head Girl, Shannon Macdonald, provides us with a behind-the-scenes look at the four-day excursion.
“On the first day, I was ready to go. I had packed everything I could the week before, double checked the night before and zipped my bags up that morning with the necessities. As I rushed out the door, my mum shouted from the window ‘enjoy yourself!’ and we were off. We got to school an hour before we were supposed to, but very shortly people started arriving and the conversations grew louder as we hadn’t seen each other for a good part of the holidays.
“Eventually, we bustled into the van and started the six-hour ride to the farm, where we were camping for the first two nights. In the back, we played Uno on a makeshift table: a bag, a pillow and someone’s leg. The rest of the van laughed and chatted between themselves as we all listened to music.
“After we pitched our tents, we got to experience shearing sheep, which is amusingly similar to shaving my dad’s head. Then we drafted the sheep, terribly, there was a lot of shouting and frantic closing of the gates, so the next sheep wouldn’t enter the incorrect pen. As we had some time afterwards, we also shot at targets with air rifles (some even had scopes) and did some archery.
“The second day, we went for an hour’s ride to where we would depart with our canoes, so we would end up back at the camp site. Due to winning ‘paper, scissors, rock’ I got to go in a pair with Mr Keen while most of the others were in groups of three. I was placed at the front, either because I would’ve most likely steered us into a rock or so I could do most of the paddling. We went through many rapids; safely, as not once did we capsize.
“This was until Mr Keen steered us towards a tree to collect a lost hat. After minutes amongst the branches and leaves we couldn’t find anything. I lost my grip on a branch just as Mr Keen emerged and we both leaned away from the tree which resulted in us going for an unexpected swim. He detailed the experience as ‘quite refreshing.’ We later found out the hat had floated down the river where it was retrieved by its owner, so we capsized for nothing. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.
“When going through the rapids, it was recommended we lower our centre of gravity and go on our knees. For one of the rapids however, Mr Keen and I decided to go ‘full-rapid mode’ where you stretch your paddle out in front of you and tuck your body inside the canoe. This resulted in a wave going straight over the top of me and I disappeared under it. It was a totally new experience and so thrilling.
“On the third day, we went canoeing from the camp site. After hours of paddling, we came to a very nice motel and finally had the chance to sleep in a bed and enjoy wonderfully warm showers.
“On the last day of camp, we went mountain biking! This was so fun for me because I love riding, however I have never gone over rough terrain as I own a road bike. It gave me such a thrill going down hills - anticipation over the more uneven surfaces as well as a bit of a challenge peddling up some steeper areas. Being at the back allowed me to cruise and really take in my surroundings, listening to the gravel shift underneath me or the faint whisper of birds.
“Afterwards, we hopped back in the van and went to Lake Taupo where a few of us decided to take a dip. It was mostly those of us located in the back of the van because we were so hot after the bike ride and there was hardly any ventilation. During our swim, I am delighted to say we got to splash Mr Keen rather well.
“When we got back to school at 8:00pm we ended the day with thanking Stu for all of his troubles in transporting us, Mrs King for sacrificing her time halfway through the bike ride to walk back a damaged bike due to one of us riding over a stick, Mr Keen for putting up with us all, and the other five specialist instructors and helpers who allowed us to have such an amazing time.”