more photos may still be yet to come 🙂
For as long as I can remember, my extended family have gone to a summer holiday family camp at a recreation centre in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
I remember when we were all younger having watermelon-pip spitting competitions, led by my grandmother, behind the dining hall. It’s something we only ever did at this camp (we’re not too strange, I promise).
I specifically remember my excitement in 2013. I had just turned nine: the age-limit for many of the most exciting outdoor-ed activities. The Giant Swing was the highlight that year, despite the terror I felt releasing the rope holding me 17-metres off the ground for the few seconds of freefall. Afterwards, I told my cousins how terrified I was, but that I managed to release the rope after thinking to myself: “If I’m going to die, I will die peacefully.” The story gets pulled out every year, and somehow the quote has stuck in the family.
That year was also the year when we plotted a grand plan to make a movie about ourselves. It involved detailed brainstorming of what names and embellishments we would give our to our fictional alter-egos. I believe we also managed to write the first few pages of a spin-off book to boot.
There was also the year my cousin Beth and I left our canoe on the shore so we could explore the other side of the lake. When my cousin Nat thoughtfully stole the canoe, we decided against walking around. Attempting to swim across the lake left us with awful duck lice bites and a nice little infection on my knee. If I look carefully, I can still see the scar. Good memories.
2018 was the year we met the Hobsons, the friends who are now as good as family. Somehow, we had never crossed paths at the camp until then. But I think we all did a jigsaw puzzle together, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This year has felt a little different in some ways. Maybe it’s the addition of Covid restrictions. Maybe it’s because we’re all getting older. But it’s been lovely. Our group of the Francis cousins, the Hobsons, and the other friends who I only ever see at the camp, is one I now feel like I can slip into easily.
I’m writing this while all the others are at volleyball. I couldn’t make my mind up whether to go or not. Volleyball and I don’t really vibe. But I want to spend time with this group of friends. And maybe even… to feel like they like me and don’t find me boring.
I think we all feel something like this sometimes.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who would prefer to stay inside rather than go to a rowdy volleyball game. Nor the only person who is worried about being perceived as too nerdy or boring.
But the truth is, this year I have felt like I fit in with the group more than ever. Not because I’m the same as everyone else. Or because anything has necessarily changed. But just because we know each other, we’re comfortable with each other, we have fun together.
I know my family (those related by blood and otherwise) all love me and like me. They’re always the first to read my blog posts, and message me about them. My aunt just came up to me, with a lapel pin labelled “Write On!”, and telling me she enjoys reading my writing.
So I’m sitting here considering walking down to join their volleyball game. But I also know that I’m enjoying sitting here, writing. And maybe later tonight we’ll play cards or the game Mafia or do a puzzle or just chat. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Gabby and Jo will walk in, covered in sand, claiming they won. Someone might check if I’m alright, and know that I’ll be honest with them (yes, I am 🙂 ). Someone might ask if anyone wants tea or coffee. Or maybe they won’t. Or maybe they’ll all be tired and want an early night — it is New Year’s Eve tomorrow night, after all.
I love this camp partly because it’s been such a big part of my growing up and I have so many memories associated with it. I love it partly because of the fun we all have on it. But now, I mostly just love it because I love the people I get to hang out with. 🙂