Once upon a time there was a beautiful blonde, welsh princess whose name was Laura, who took a shining to a young, strawberry blonde mountain climber called Rhys. These two grew up leading totally separate lives, miles apart, but met when working in a small office on the edge of the New Forest.
This fairytale romance continued and they moved in together. The two of them travelled the world seeking adventure and excitement. The sites, sounds and trinkets of Morocco, Prague, China and Nepal (including a whirlwind helicopter experience up Mt Everest) have helped decorate and provide pretty things for their home.
Regardless of their extraordinary travels and romantic breaks away, it was on a normal, albeit sunny day on the south coast of England when Rhys decided to make Laura the happiest girl in the world (her words, not ours). He presented her with a gorgeous ring and asked her to be his wife.
In light of this event – oh wait: she said yes by the way! – we would like to share the good news with you all.
Quote from Rhys’ Dad: “It was the smartest thing you’ve ever done.”
On a serious note, everyone at Camps International and RJ7 Expeditions wishes Rhys and Laura all the happiness in the world, and the best of luck for their future.
I wanted to post a few pictures from the recent IB Conference in Kuala Lumpur. We normally have a stand at these sorts of conferences, once or twice a year, and gives us a chance to speak with a wide range of International Schools from across the world. Ann our International Sales guru was running the stand this time around and did a fantastic job of making it appealing and snazzy. The star of the show were the amazing bracelets made by the women of Mantanani out of plastic washed up on the beach – they are now the must have item in all IB schools around the globe!
Hi there! I know it’s a bit late (little bit like a few months?) for introduction but then I’ll proceed anyway. We are just a couple of months old but already making waves (big ones!) Thank you to our very smart Operations Manager Petra Nakad who is always full of bright ideas and knows how to handle issues professionally. We are getting there somehow. We’re going to take the Middle East by a (sand) storm! Swoosh!
Eureka! I got an idea!
Our very first Christmas get-together. Petra, Ruby, Beatriz and Rhys. Cheers!
And the family is getting bigger and bigger with Lucy, our newest CI Dubai babe! With visitors from the other parts of the world, Rhys, Jess and Ann. When could we visit you guys?
Hola! Buenos Dias etc etc
As Bryn from Gavin and Stacey would say (apply Welsh accent here,) “I´m not gonna lie to you, I can´t speak Spanish.”
Right, it´s day 7 of my 13 day adventure here in Ecuador, visiting everything Camps. I have just returned from 4 nights at Camp Amazonia which is based in a small Quechua Community called Rio Blanco. Rio Blanco is about an hour away from Tena, and most of this journey is passed on a relatively new “road” – I say “road” as it is mostly a bunch or roacks that some diggers have chucked down in a haphazard manner, in order that the small communities based in the depths of the jungle are better able to get to town in order to buy and sell their goods. It is a bumpy ride.
My journey from Quito to Rio Blanco took about 4 hours in total and we passed some breathtaking scenery. It was literally breathtaking as we climbed steadily to an altitude of roughly 3000m, before dropping down to just 500m and into the jungle.
- Camps visited – 2 (Camp Maqui and Camp Amazonia)
- Nosebleeds due to altitude – 5
- Beers – still 3 ( you´ve gotta be professional)
- Hilarious one sided conversations with friendly Ecuadorians – 15
- Jungle treks – 1 (sweaty)
- Guinea pigs consumed – 0 (that I know of)
So Camp Amazonia is pretty special. It is private and secluded, yet close to a small, frienly and welcoming community, and there is lots of great work to be done by our volunteers. On the day I arrived the group of gap year volunteers were completeing a fish pond which they had been digging. The fish pond was requested by the community so that they may have better acess to fish, so to improve the diets of the children, who are suffering from mal-nutrition. The volunteers were completely knackered, and mostly a kind of Umpa Lumpa orange colour from the clay, but they pressed on regardless and completed the fish pond by Friday.
This weekend the group went on a rafting and trekking expedition. Starting on Saturday at about 13:00 we divided between two white water rafts and 6 Kayaks, and set off on a 5 hour river ride, going through rapids and then enjoying the steady flow of the Napo river. We camped on a beach and gaudged on a feast of pasta and salad! We put up our tents which, wasn´t straight forward in the ever darkening evening, and then settled around a camp fire. The following day we continued down the river for about an hour, before being directed to some narrow steps carved out of mud. This is where the jungle trek began.
We walked for about 3 hours through thick jungle, and Jimena (the Assistant Camp Manager) and me only got sepparated from the entire group once, so that was pretty good going we though. The thing is we saw tracks and so went in search of the exotic animal, and consequently we got sepparated from the group. With a bit of calm yelling and howling we eventually got found by the guide and brought back to the correct path. Such fun!
Due to the adventurous nature of this weekend expedtion and our close proximity to water, I left my camera at Camp, so as to avoid any potential damage coming to it. It was a great shame not to get any photos of this trip, but I have clear and colourful images in my mind of the jungle and the river, and the guides that looked after us and taught us things along the way. Just go yourself and then you´ll see what I´m not doing very well at describing to you. Camps International happens to run a wonderful trip here. HAHA!!
Now that the fish pond project has been completed the group will be commencing the improvement of a footpath that runs alongside the river. I have been speaking a lot with the Camps Ecuador team and they have so many important projects in the pipe line with the community at Rio Blanco, and I look forward to hearing about the progress that is made in the coming months.
I now have a few days of independent travel, and what with my extensive grasp of Spanish, it should all be fine. Bueno! I will be visiting Cotopaxi on Wednesday and after that I am heading north to Otovalo. Products made from Alpaca wool – here I come.
Well it´s been a dream, I hope it may continue. See ya´ll on the flip side.
Insert cheesy pic of me here!
I am off to Camp Ecuador on Monday. My lovely employer, Camps International decided it was time for me to see the Camps and projects first hand. And so, just like that, I am off.
I am no stranger to traveling, as I spent three years after completing my ALevels traveling to many places around the world. It wasn’t planned or anything, I just wasn’t quite sure what to do next each time, and so each time, I went off somewhere else.
My first destination was Kenya, and about a month after finishing school in July 2005 I jetted off to Mombasa in the care of a very small and not so well known company called “Camps International.” To be honest I picked Camps for no better reason, than I knew someone else that went and had a good time, and that the office was half an hour away from where I live.
It turned out to be a pretty amazing experience. I was there for three months, and was involved in a variety of projects ranging from cutting down grass to aid football matches, to painting new classroom walls with A B C’s, to building an A framed swing-set.
I made some incredible friends out there, a lot of who were Australian. We are still in touch and one of them just got married. I didn’t make it to the wedding as I now have a 9-5 gig, work type thing, that means I can’t just jet off whenever I feel like it. I have adjusted into this calm, daily routine quite easily. I like it.
With this trip to Camp Ecuador on the horizon however, I have been reminded of all the journeys I made before I came back to a life of mainstream-ness. My backpack, that I got when I was 15 for my Duke of Edinburgh expedition, has served me well. I decided several years ago that I would sew on the flags of the countries I have traveled to, so that everyone else might feel a little pang of jealousy. I have to get back in to the swing, of chucking everything in and hopping on a bus that heads in the general direction of where I want to go.
As you can perhaps tell the bag has not been used for some time, and is stored affectionately in a dark, dusty, spidery cupboard. Its last excursion was a 10 month round the world trip taking in seven countries. That was five years ago now. And since then I have completed a degree and found a rather wonderful job. I’m fairly certain that without my travel and volunteering experiences, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.
I can’t wait to be out there again, bag on my back, grin on my face, e-ticket on my phone…WHAT!!!! This is new and very exciting! I can check-in for my flight on my phone, and select my seat (I’m hoping for the isle) I hate it when you need the loo at 30,000 ft and you have to climb over 3 sleeping bodies, trying as hard as you can not to disturb them just in order to relieve myself. No no no, that is not me, I’d rather a quick exit than a view of the clouds. Very unromantic.
In preparation for my trip I went out and bought a few essentials.
Number 1: The Lonely Planet guide to Ecuador and the Galapagos (so far I have just looked at the map on the inside of the cover – very educational)
Number 2: Mini toiletries (they’re so dinky)
Number 3: Highly expensive and some may say (my Dad) unnecessary Patagonia outdoor wear (no regrets)
My to do list
Book appointment with travel clinic to check vaccinations are up to date. CHECK
Complete ESTA to get into the USA where I transit. CHECK (nightmare)
Exchange some GBP into USD (currency used in Ecuador). CHECK
Organise transport to airport at stupidly early o’clock CHECK (Mother)
Brag to friends that I have a job where they send you to cool places. CHECK X 10
Find a good book to read, maybe two. STILL DECIDING (Suggestions welcome)
I arrive into Quito late in the evening on the 11th Feb and will be heading to a backpackers hostel. Here I will be in my element, ASLEEP!!!!! The following day I set off for Camp Amazonia. From here I am blissfully ignorant of what I will face and I am very happy for it to be this way.
All I know is, if I run into a Jack T Colton-esq character (look it up if you don’t know,) find a strange old map with a big X on it, and have people chasing me for unknown reasons, I’m just gonna roll with it!!!
Watch this space.
There is only an hour to go until the first ever #AskCamps Q and A session. We have a team of experts waiting in the office to answer any of your queries. This includes questions about Gap Years, School Expeditions and Family Volunteering Trips.
Who’s going to be here/online?
Izi D from the Gap team who spent 3 months in Camp Kenya on her gap year and has now been with us for a year. She’s also off to Ecuador next week so keep the jealousy down.
Sarah S: Sarah has recently returned from Camp Kenya and Tanzania and is an old hand as an expedition co-ordinator for Gap Years. She’s also got stuck into projects like building mumma’s houses and pons at Muhaka.
Kristina: Nanana has spent 3 months as a gapper in Camp Kenya and knows all about our projects there. She is also the Schools Support guru for the operations team so can help with school expedition questions. At the end of last year she also took a group of teachers to Tanzania.
Rachael M: Rach is the fundraising maestro of the office and travels round the UK helping people raise the funds for their trip. Anything to do with fundraising and she is here for you. Rachael has also been an expedition leader in Borneo on Jungle and Scuba Expeditions. She also lived for 6 months in Ecuador so any spanish related questions ask away. Ole
Jim C: The marketing manager has been to Cambodia and Borneo with Camps so can answer all temple and monkey related questions. He has also visited every country where we have camps so can help on general advice.
All you have to do is use the #askcamps and we should be able to pick up your question and get you an answer within minutes. Please use Twitter if possible if not contact us via the campsinternational Facebook page.
If you want to ask a question before we start then just email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Q and A team.
I just had to share the distress of one of our school expedition managers this morning. Not because I’m mean (well yes of course that), but here she is, the wonderful Anna who seems to have been finding the iciest snow filled car parks in Staffordshire and then having to dig herself out. Dearest Anna is also trying to claim that the snow was very thick but as you can see its only a few inches very similar to the rest of the UK and no-one else deemed it necessary to share their problems with us. I would however love to know where she found the shovel from, is it the one she keeps in her boot so her team keep in line.
Keep up the good work Anna, as usual showing the Camps dedication to go the extra mile/inch is part of the package.
Annabelle “Goodfellas” Mayhew we salute you!!!