Our June camp to LooLa Adventure Resort in Bintan arrived back on Friday night, and what an incredible 6 days we had together. If you’d like to check out our photos from the trip, there’s an album on our Facebook page and select pictures taken throughout the week on Instagram (@centaurs_kids)
= Day 1 =
Departing from Centaurs Sports Park at 7am, we took the ferry over as a group to the purpose-built eco-resort LooLa. For some, this was their first time on a camp away from home, but they quickly took independence in their stride.
As soon as we arrived at LooLa, we were briefed by our guide, Mr Conti, about the schedule for the week and the rules we had to observe to stay safe around the resort and in the water. A memorable tip? Keep a safe distance from coconut trees when the wind picks up, as the fruits could fall on your head!
Then it was straight into activities: basketball, the obstacle course, rock climbing and exploring the shallows at low tide. The boys took along a bucket and net, and caught 12 crabs! Tiredness hit at dinner time, but that didn’t stop us from building a small fire and toasting marshmallows – is there a better way to start a camp?
= Day 2 =
After the birth of kittens in our dorm overnight, on Day 2 our campers moved into some chalets over the sea. A dreary morning, the kids played cards until it was dry enough to take on the Skywalk: a “leap of faith” drop from between two coconut trees.
Our guide Siti then showed us how to build rafts using just four barrels, ten poles and string. After lunch, the teams’ two rafts (sporting very different designs) were put to the test on the water. One team’s disintegrated on entry; the other’s successfully completed the race. Our second activity for the afternoon was climbing a coconut tree – much harder than the locals made it look! To slight disappointment, the evening was fire-free; after all the rain, it was too damp to light, but we would give it another go on another night.
= Day 3 =
The third day was our allocated day for community projects. Piling onto a bus with Siti to assist and translate English-Bahasa, we travelled to a remote house to install a waste water system. These have a big impact for the family: it converts organic bathroom waste from the toilet into a fertile watering system for plants. Into an already-dug pit, we connected all the pipes and put the tank into the ground. We then filled the pit with gravel and sand, finished it off with a brick wall and some banana tree shrubs. Our efforts were repaid with enormous plates of fried bananas, and cuddles from their kittens.
After this snack, we went to the next house, where we were to paint blue the front and side of the house. We were taught how to make a traditional fish trap, so we made one for the family and one for ourselves.
That night we had a surprise in store – we were going to kayak out to a kelong (a floating fishing house) and stay the night there catching fish with hand reels and our new trap. This was an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity – no other group has done this from LooLa before! As we watched the sunset from our wooden structure, Mr Conti prepared a simple but hearty meal for dinner – with no electricity, this was a challenge! The camp spent time talking, fishing, and watching a spectacular lightning display over a faraway island. Stargazing was another highlight!
When it was time to rest, we pitched a tarpaulin over the deck and took our sleeping bags out over some mats. It wasn’t a restful sleep and we didn’t catch a single fish, but we didn’t mind: this was just too amazing!!
= Day 4 =
The next day was quiet. After our night on the salty, choppy kelong, we wanted showers, food and sleep. In the afternoon, we had more kayaking planned but we opted for something on dry land: archery and beach volleyball were popular alternatives. Dinner was a treat: homemade pizzas with our choice of topping, which were baked to perfection in LooLa’s own pizza oven. A late night soccer game with locals and other guests was a perfect end to the day. Smiles all around!
= Day 5 =
With our energy restored after a good night’s sleep, in the morning we got on the bus to go hill trekking. Unfortunately, we had a flat tyre! Instead, we went in cars to the hill and then took a 45 minute hike up a steep hill – in parts, we had to use a rope and our hands to climb! All sweaty and in need of a dip, Siti had the perfect treat in store for us: cold drinks, ice lollies, and the boat and boomnet waiting to go. The boat had a purpose built jump platform and net to catch us, so we could jump to our hearts’ content as the boat moved up and down the river.
Back at LooLa that afternoon, we had another challenge ahead of us: the ziplining into the pool. It looked really tame from the ground, but from the top of the platform it was really daunting! I (Coach Charli) was terrified at the top, but cheers and support from the kids was all I needed to take the leap**!
Tie-dying our shirts was the final planned activity of the trip. Our group was the first to do this at LooLa, so we each tried different techniques with the fabric and dyes. We got these drying before dinner, so that we could wear them home the next day.
That night we had a farewell bonfire, with more toasted marshmallows and dancing to music. we It was the perfect end to a really great week, with a bunch of fearless, inclusive, fun, all-around good kids. When we arrived back at Centaurs Sports Park the next day, the excitement, exhaustion and smiles said everything: this had been a really special experience for all.
** Honest moment: I didn’t leap, I asked the LooLa staff to push me off. They obliged.