Lake Macquarie – An unofficial exit poll of campers at the Claremont College Dads’ & Kids’ Camp held this past weekend, has been declared the ‘best ever’ by tired but happy campers. The camp, now in its 6th year and held on the beautiful foreshore of Lake Macquarie, was attended by record numbers this year, with some 300 kids and dads in attendance.

A major change this year was the relocation of the ‘tent city’ to the oval, where campers delighted in the even surface, free of twigs and stones, however still comfortably within earshot of the traditional kookaburra 4am salute-to-campers each morning. After enduring chilly low overnight temperatures (yes, it got as low as 2° on Sunday), the campers emerged each day to clear blue skies, warm days and the gift of a stiff sailing breeze on the lake.

Dads and kids alike attacked the many activities on offer with vigour. Time and again, reports came in of challenges faced and overcome through bravery and resilience, be it kids pushing through their fear of heights on the rock-climbing wall, the tricky knack of firing an arrow on the archery range being achieved, or dads bravely pushing beyond thigh level into the icy waters of the lake in the raft races.

In another major change this year, the fishing activity drew record crowds following the introduction of prawns as bait, resulting in the inaugural actual catching of fish, several times!

A great sense of camaraderie was observed with countless instances of kids looking out for each other, friendships amongst families with the same first letter in their surname forged, and fathers seen supporting one another through the kid-pleaser dance-off event on Saturday night. There were even accounts of children carrying gear to the car, and assisting with pitching tents, although this last report is unverified.

As the weekend drew to a close and the weary campers returned to Sydney for a much-needed shower, there were smiles in every car and understandably a few tears from those on their final camp. To those dads and kids, we will miss you.

On behalf of all dads and kids, we gratefully acknowledge the efforts of the Crusaders leadership, site and catering teams, as well as those of the Claremont team (camp ‘mums’ Mrs Ford and Mrs Dalheim, Mr Russell, Mrs Wiggins and Mrs Mitchell), external speakers, and the dads who volunteered their time in organizing the event, taking photos and administering medical assistance. We especially thank the unstoppable Mr Thomas, for his vision in developing this awesome event, and his mission to help dads with the challenge of fatherhood. We are fortunate to have been part of this experience.

Mr Dario Forato (Father of Ryan Y6 and Callum Y4)

15th September 2017