Big Camp always presents huge challenges for everyone at camp from the Camp Chief to the Groupers.  For the groupers, the mystery unfolds rather rapidly.

There are the physical challenges of the games in which groupers push themselves beyond pre-existing boundaries in ways they never thought possible before. Every game in its own way extends the groupers individually and collectively as they strive to “play the game”.

Lord Somers Camp

There are the social challenges as one hundred young men from all over the place gather in their groups to live together in very close proximity for seven eventful nights and seven and a half even more eventful days, sharing names and stories as they get to know each other and soon learn to trust each other in ways they also never thought possible.

There are the nocturnal challenges of trying to catch a few winks of sleep before being woken by the Slushies as dawn finally arrives to end the charade of sleeping at night to be herded down the beach for more fun and games, concluding with the bracing swim.

All of this and many other aspects of camp provides a context and sets the scene for the challenges experienced by the staff members as they mix and mingle with the groupers throughout the week .

I always find Big Camp to be one of the most emotionally challenging experiences of the year. Why? I find it really emotional to observe how the disparate gathering of very confused (and amused) young men slowly but surely gel into pulsating organic teams. No longer are they twenty individuals, but a team, committing themselves, as one, to each war cry, each game, each mess and each other.  All in the name of “playing the game”.

They give a little of themselves away each time, until there is nothing of the individual left. He has given his all to the group. To see all the groupers cheering in the last few competitors in the cross country and the Lord Mayor’s Cup is so moving and powerful.  As a staff member in Games, you get to see all this and more.

I teach at a Christian College and I have been a Christian for most of my adult life.  We worship most Sundays at a local Uniting Church.  From my experience, I believe God’s got his finger prints all over Lord Somers camp.  Not just the serene Bush Chapel (which is my favourite sacred site in all Somers), but in everything that Lord Somers Camp stands for.

The motto “service without seeking recognition” is at the heart of the Gospel for me and captures what I believe we should all be on about in our daily lives.  Putting others before ourselves was what Christ was on about in everything he preached.  The God of Islam and the prophet Mohammed would echo these sentiments too.

I was thrilled to hear the Slushie King’s Speech (great movie) in which (among other things) he declared that LSC was a fully inclusive organisation which honoured the indigenous stewards of Somers over the centuries before, and an organisation in which there was no place for homophobia, racism or sexism. Amen to that brother. Good on you Joel.  God save the King!

That the staff are involved in something beyond themselves, just as the groupers are also engaged in something in which they lose themselves is exactly how we all find ourselves in that paradoxical way. “It is in giving that we receive” kind of thing. Bravo Lords Somers Big Camp, 2013- The spirit of Somers is alive and well.

Nick Toovey, Dark Blue, 1969. Games Department, 2013.