With summer rapidly approaching, I recall with a dollop of nostalgia and a large serving of embarrassment one camping summer holiday I shared with my then early teen children.
Caught on Camera.
One hot summer, many years ago, I camped with my own three children and three more, at a basic DOC camp on the Karikari Peninsula in the Far North. You might think that camping with six kids would be a nightmare. Not at all, it was pure bliss.
The camp had one toilet block, two outside, cold showers and nothing fancy like cooking facilities or a television room. The kids took turns cooking the night meal on the portable stove and washing-up.
During the day, they entertained themselves, leaving me to idle away the hours reading the stack of books I’d brought with me.
They swam in the sheltered bay every day and one memorable day, a pod of playful dolphins joined them.
The second day there, while walking the cliff’s near our campsite, we discovered a point where the waves pounded into a natural inlet. We named this place The Gut. One at a time, the kids took turns to jump into the surging water below. Cheered and challenged by the others from the opposite cliff face, they crept higher and higher up the cliff to take their jump. Jumping The Gut proved to be adrenaline rush. I tried it myself, only once and not from the highest point.
While the kids mostly entertained themselves, I was left in peace to read.
As night fell, they joined other campsite kids in games of hide-and-seek and bull-rush, while us parents sat on camp chairs, sharing a wine or two.
I began each day with an early morning run. Donning my shorts, singlet and running shoes, I’d slip quietly from the tent. I jogged along the track past The Gut, over the next hilly rise and descended to a long secluded beach. At that time of day, I had the entire beach to myself. I sprinted to the rock pools at the far end, stripped off my running gear and swam out beyond the rocks then back to shore. When I emerged from the water, refreshed, invigorated, I sprinted the beach back and forth many times, naked. The epitome of freedom.
One morning I decided to run one more lap before getting dressed and returning to the camp. A gentle breeze brushed my face, the salt spray tickled my nostrils, my feet rhythmically pounded the silky sand.
Glancing towards the hilly rise, something shiny flickered in the light of the emerging sun. Shading my eyes, I looked up to see two figures standing near the top of the rise. One, with an outstretched arm, pointed in my direction. The other held an object to their face. The shiny flicker flicked again. Caught on camera! I jerked. I stumbled. Crouching, I made a futile attempt to cover my nakedness before frantically sprinting back to the rock pools, back to my pile of discarded clothes.
I wondered if I’d be invited to join the wine circle that evening.