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Camp of the lost year 2020

The Tough Book Club camp is significant for many reasons, it’s a chance for goons from all over the country to catch up, do a lot or not much at all. It’s a chance to get away from whatever grind you face day to day and come back refreshed. In short it’s the ultimate extension of the club's principles. It is a highlight in the year’s calendar for many goons.

Unfortunately, the camp of 2020 was affected by the COVID pandemic meaning it did not run. Instead we posted our favourite memories of camps of the past. The camp of 2019, the fifth camp so far has proven to be very special. It was the most successful in attendance, organisation, activities, events and spirit. It was full of great memories both collective and individual. As proof you should try to enjoy the moments while you can, it turned out it would be the last camp for a long while. Well until 2021.

The sea shanty

A bully of tea anyone? We all gathered and sang a sea shanty, led by one of the goons. Voices rang out and goose bumps followed, or was that something else?

Axe throwing, including special guests

A tough guy camp is defined by the quality of it’s axe throwing (not always but you get it) – with so many of us getting into the swing of it.

Surprise author visit & Trip down the Golbourn River

Every year we set a book for Camp, in 2019 it was written by Rohan Wilson – Alex recalls:

“We were expecting the author of the camp book, Rohan Wilson, at camp. He arrived, having traveled from Brisbane, just as I was about to lead a canoe trip down the Goulburn. He'd been with us for 5 minutes before he changed into shorts and jumped in a car to join us, keen as mustard. So we got our group to the river and set off. I watched 6 boats set off into the cold turbulent water one by one, then pushed off with James Jamfs last to make sure he and I could keep an eye on the group. The river was stunning but relentless in its flow. You don't have a lot of time to make important decisions on a fast moving river because it doesn't slow for an instant. As I watched down stream an island came into view. Paddlers could choose left or right. It approached fast. I saw Rohan, our special guest, and his co-paddler choose right, but to me it looked too late for them to avoid a big clump of willow, logs and sticks. I imagined they'd need help after being entangled. But then I heard a splash to my left. Pete Collings and... was it Bernie Foster?... were now clinging to their upturned canoe, eyes wide with cold water adrenaline, and they were veering to the left. The apex of the island arrived all too quickly. Just as I turned my full attention to Pete's boat I glanced to my right to see our guest author disappear behind the island, out of sight, gone, and we weren't stopping. So we get to righting Pete's boat and get them back on their way, but now I've not seen Rohan's boat and have no idea at all whether they got stuck or not. I tie up to the bank and run back upstream through the river scrub toward the apex of the island, probably almost a kilometre. I kooee and listen hard for responses over the sound of the river rushing around trees, rocks and grass. I hear and see nothing. I run back to James clutching to the bank and feel we have no option but to paddle on, so we set off again. Stopping and rescuing and running cost time, and during that time all the other boats had continued down stream. My buddy and I were now furthest upstream, alone. Or were we? I couldn't get Rohan off my mind. I began imagining newspaper headlines announcing a book club had drowned a successful author. I felt anxious but tried to keep my cool for the benefit of James who was holding up magnificently despite not being very confident I the water. And the river ran on. We turned a corner and saw another boat overturned and pressed up against a tree with Simon Reader and Daniel Daniel Kane Fielke, I believe. We help them get going again and ask if they've seen our author. No, they hadn't. We happen upon another boat a little further downstream. They hadn't seen him either. Fuck. On we paddle. I recalled the boat trailer. It held six boats, and 2 were now accounted for which meant I needed to see 4 others when we reached the exit landing. Time slowed for me as I began to anticipate seeing the trailer and counting the boats. Every bend looked the same, just as exciting and disappointing as the last and the next. How many boats would there be? The last stretch of river before the Alexandra bridge was agonisingly quiet, calm and beautiful. Very fucking pretty. Then came the final bend. We rounded it. We saw a boat just arrived. That's 3. The trailer was hidden behind trees up the bank. The current dragged it's feet. A tree passed. Then another. Then like Christmas lights I see colours stacked on a metal rack. I use my hand to brow telescopic technique to count what I see, straining through the trees. 1, 2, fucking THREE! The lads on land promptly tell us Rohan had made it back long ago and had headed back to camp after a leisurely and enjoyable paddle. Nobody went to jail.“

I think Nick Pitts sums camp up nicely, when he said:

“So gents, thank you all, for all the laughs, the stories, that terrifying liars dice thing, the cold showers, the whisky tastings gone horribly right, the melted shoes, and all the well earned bruises and hangovers. I make no secret that club and camp are literally lifesavers, and I can't wait to make some new stories with you lot at the next one.“

Get your tickets to the 2021 camp now!

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