July camp is never ’always just the same’. There were a few ’firsts’ at July Camp 2023 which, overall and by all accounts received, was a great success.

This was the first time July Camp was held in the refurbished Monk’s Cowl camp-site.
Mark Robertson, the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Conservator at Monk’s Cowl, gave an interesting and informative presentation on the work of Pine Busters of which he is a strong and active supporter. We all learnt much about the severity of the problem of pine infestation in the Berg.

Yet another first was the high number of campers, 89 at the beginning and growing throughout the camp! Aalthough not all were in camp at one time.

In the past there had been numerous calls for better provision for the rapidly increasing number of vegetarians, some offerings were experimented with and will continue to be tweaked in future.

Another innovation at July Camp 2023 was that we decided to offer a self-catering option, the uptake on this option was low and the self-caterers were a very low proportion of the camp.

Another delightful first at July Camp 2023 was the high number of very young campers who brought their special sense of enjoyment to the camp. Very sincere thanks to their parents for bringing their little ones to the camp. It was such fun to see the camp through their eyes and from their eye level! We also had an interesting three generation family group.

Then of course there were the more traditional aspects of the camp.

The Monk’s Cowl camp-site offers a wide range of hiking activities in and beyond the immediate surrounds and Cathkin Valley. Day trips were popular, and we had a number of willing leaders to whom our grateful thanks are due. It was gratifying to look up from case camp and be able to see several July Camp parties dotted around the landscape.

There also was pleasing number of overnight and longer hiking parties, both those that relied on caves and those who carried tents. There was one successful escarpment hiking party and one climbing party intending to climb Cathkin, but their late arrival in the Gully and the amount of snow caused them to turn back.