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A Blaze Aid Experience

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Adrian Cloonan

“There’s that generator again”, I said.

“6am”, my wife replied. “Up and at ‘em!”

The maintenance men emerged from their shipping container workshop, checking the portable toilets and showers had plenty of water, next re-fuelling vehicles and attaching trailers full of tools. Kitchen volunteers were cooking breakfast for the camp of twenty three, and putting out ingredients for the work teams to make up lunches.

A quick shower, during which I inadvertently leaned against a freezing stainless-steel shower wall, prompted a mental note to take a shower before going to bed in future.

Breakfast over, Brian, our camp co-ordinator, stood at the whiteboard to brief us. Five teams of three volunteers would go into the community, each team led by an experienced fencer to teach “newcomers”.  And some volunteers were preparing to leave camp and return to their homes.

Last night at dinner we had been introduced to our team leader, Sam. He proved to be of the strong and silent persuasion. 

“What are we doing tomorrow, Sam?” 

“Fencing”. 

“How far is the farm?”

“Not far”. 

“Have you been at this camp long?”

“Four weeks”.

“Have you volunteered with BlazeAid before?”

“Yes”.

Oh well, fencing is rather a solitary pursuit, perhaps it had rubbed off.

We had arrived at camp to be told the courtesy bus was to transport all volunteers to the local hotel. They were putting on a three-course evening meal, free, as a thank you for the work done.  

Brian finished his briefing with the words “stay safe”. And with that the volunteers picked up their eskys of food and drink, climbed into vehicles, and departed.

*****

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