DAVID CAMP­BELL

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents - David co-hosts To­day Ex­tra, 9am week­days, on the Nine Net­work.

un­leashes his in­ner Bear Grylls on a camp­ing trip.

Hal­ley’s Comet last passed over Earth in 1986. I was a young lad in Year 8 and our school went camp­ing at Wilpena Pound in South Aus­tralia’s Flin­ders Ranges. A teacher came into the boys’ tent at some un­godly hour and dragged us out in our flan­nel py­ja­mas to see a dis­tant comet cross the south­ern skies. The dance of the uni­verse filled our 13-year-old eyes. Then, freez­ing cold, we turned, got back into our sleep­ing bags and fell asleep.

This was the high­light of my camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I am not a fan. I don’t see it as fun to get into a tent in the mid­dle of nowhere – a place known for John Jar­ratt-es­que se­rial killers and crea­tures that can poi­son/make your life ex­tremely un­com­fort­able. To live with­out wi-fi or elec­tric­ity, and be cold and hun­gry. To get frus­trated trav­el­ling to the mid­dle of god knows where to put up a dif­fi­cult tent, only to pull it down again days later and then try to get it to fold back to­gether just as it was be­fore you set it up. Na­ture schma­ture. So, I hate camp. I hate it so much you can call me David Bell from now on. Then the let­ter came via my son’s school with an omi­nous sen­tence: “For Year 1 camp, a par­ent is re­quired to be with the child.” Af­ter los­ing 26 straight games of paper scis­sors rock with my wife (she cheats), it came down to old Bush­tucker Dave here to grab the khakis and gear up for fa­ther-son camp­ing. Out in the wild… on the school’s lawn. This meant other par­ents, who prob­a­bly love “get­ting back to na­ture”, were go­ing to make me look bad in front of my son. I may dis­like camp­ing, but I’m su­per-com­pet­i­tive. So Leo and I went and bought an easy-erect tent, sleep­ing bags, head torches and a blow-up mat­tress. He was so im­pressed with my knowl­edge of what we needed. Thanks in­ter­net. Then the rain came. It started on a Mon­day, and through the grey skies I saw hope: I’m go­ing to get out of this. As the bib­li­cal wa­ters fell from the sky into Wed­nes­day night, I had to brace Leo for the worst. “In my ex­pe­ri­ence,” I told him squint­ing into the clouds, “it doesn’t look good, champ.” I blew my cheeks out for ef­fect. The school did not agree, and come Fri­day we ven­tured to the oval which was al­ready like what I imag­ined Glas­ton­bury Fes­ti­val to be like, ex­cept with­out Oa­sis and with more seven-year-olds. There was mud ev­ery­where. The rain was re­lent­less and Leo said, “Well, we’re al­lowed to sleep in some class­rooms.”

It was like he had awo­ken the Bear Grylls in me. This bear had been in hi­ber­na­tion for 31 years. “No,” I looked down at my cub, “we bought this stuff to camp. Let’s get camp!” Leo blankly stared at my mu­si­cal theatre-like quip.

It was cold. It rained all night. I had to put the tent up and take it down in the muddy rain. There was no galac­tic event – but I loved it. We laughed. Played games with the other fam­i­lies. Told sto­ries in the near-float­ing haven we had set up on the soc­cer pitch. We bonded in a way I never thought we would, do­ing some­thing I had never liked. It meant so much to him and I felt, as a par­ent, that I had achieved some­thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to do it again. But I will… be­fore Hal­ley’s Comet re­turns.

It’s what imag­ined Glas­ton­bury to be like, but with less Oa­sis and more seven-year-olds”

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