Our teacher at Tauranga Intermediate was Mr Hart. Mr Harts class was right next-door to the class of his wife, Mrs Hart. Anyway Mr Hart was the camp director for the school so we had the special treat of going to camp not just once or twice. In one year we had at least two days at Ngamuwahine no less than four times. It didn’t really matter what we did, whether rafting down the river in bulged over-inflated tyre tubes, roughing it in a possum plagued bivvy or hearing about the Ngamuwahine axe murderer around a camp fire for the fifth time- we had a ball because we were camping.
The heart and soul of camping is being around people your own age on an adventure. Now add riding motorcycles and you have enough to make even the toughest adult get excited.
But this was no ordinary motorcycle camp. No, this time we had a mx track, two big halls and beach. Beach that we could ride on. Sounding good yet?!
As with every good story there was an enemy. It was big and dark and full of water- you guessed it, a storm was coming. The rain radar glowed orange and red. Without divine intervention we were done. Sure we could ride. The beach was made for this kind of thing. However there are only two things that can dampen the camp spirit- injury and incessant, cold rain.
Come the dawn of camp morning the overnight rain was holding off but with the real storm to come we got through the formalities without delay and with bikes still on vehicles headed down to the Te Kopuru MX track.
The Good Guys
Deserving a big mention at this point is Bruce and Judy of Dargaville Honda, along with Aaron who helped start the new Dargaville club. They are incredible people, super genuine and worthy of full support.
Back to the story. Despite the overnight rain we had our first miracle- the track was rideable. It is a sandy soil that soaks up moisture fairly well and the kids found a loop behind the starting line with a jump that kept them happy for hours.
Let the fun begin
Second miracle- our help came from the hills, the mountains surrounding the Dargaville area seemed to be holding off the worst of the storm. So with bikes loaded back on vehicles we travelled back for one of the necessary evils of these events- camp food. Miracle number three- our chow over the two days was excellent with everything from hotdogs to porridge, from yogurt to baked spagetti with plenty of cottage cheese.
So with bellies full we headed off down the beach track to the water. Plenty of helpers and parents made it easy to keep tabs on the masses although there wasn’t much to control, the kids were perfect. Part of that could have been the fact that they were now able to let all their dreams come true. That might have been a part of it as they hooned off into the horizon straight down the beach or over whooped out dunes with local legends Bryan McKenzie and Tom Duder making sure the way was clear and warning of dangerous drops or washed up logs.
The Mahuta sand dunes were our destination both days that we hit the beach, composing of a big soft hill climb with an awesome playground of lips and drops at the top to treat those that managed to make it.
Step it up
One of those who conquered the hill was young Ana Searle, finally making it to the top after close to a dozen attempts showing determination and grit way beyond her stature. It was a special moment and spurred me on to attempting some of the drops that I had been too scared to hit for years, if she could do it then so could I.
Back at the bottom I set up two markers to form one of the classics- a barrel race. Like long track speedway the goal is to get a good start then complete your set number of laps as fast and as showy as possible without spinning out.
I was wondering why people kept lining up for another race until I had a go against Bryan and Tom. Bryan had me off the start with his 450 power while something held Tom up, a good thing as his 450 was even quicker than Bryan’s. Into the first corner I braked late and hugged the marker extra tight. With the lead into turn two I backed it in full super-motard style only to have the rear keep going and spin out. Instantly I wanted to hit the ‘Restart Race’ button and line up for a second chance only to realize I really should wait until the others had their turn- it was then that I realized why everyone kept lining up again and again.
All this fun, it couldn’t get any better right?
Well after a big working bee on all of our bikes back at camp getting things clean and some hands on learning time about bike maintenance from Bryan we had dinner followed by desert and games. Not just any games either. From oversized skipping rope to spotlight we had it covered but the most popular were the endless games of dodgeball that pulled everyone except Sarah into it addictive claws. Any spare moment someone would throw a pillow and the game was back on again so by the time 9pm rolled around everyone was well and truly ready for bed, taking mere moments to quieten down and get to sleep on their bunks piled high with mattresses.
It Sure Can!
The rest of the camp was very similar to the first. Food. Dodgeball. Beach. Food. Dodgeball. MX track. Dodge packing up duty… no everyone chipped in, especially with the rain finally arriving just as we got back to camp the final time.
That night would have been bliss for the parents. After two days of quiet it would have been an early night also as at 3 O’clock when Mummy and Daddy took them home to bed they were some very tired little teddy bears, dreaming of open sand and fast bikes.
So What About You?
Well, if you have got this far in the story you might be keen to come along yourself next time. We plan to hold another just like this one come the summer holidays and it would be open to anywhere in the country. We might even be able to help co-ordinate transport to those coming from afar although we may need more than one set of dates set aside to keep the max of 20 riders. No problems though, us organizers have nearly as much fun as the campers!