First TimeOrientation Camp
I arrived at the pub in Carlton at five minutes before twelve. Inside it was already teeming with students talking excitedly. I slung my backpack down from my shoulder into my right hand as I twisted sideways to fit through the door of the establishment.
I recognised quite a few people from the line for tickets the other morning. I had arrived at 6am for a ticket sales event that started at 9am because I had been told that if I got there on time I would miss out because the line would already be too long. The camp had a limit – only fifty guys and fifty girls could go so I'd been eager to secure a spot. Unfortunately for me it turned out that I could've gotten there at 8:30 and still gotten a ticket. The early wake up being all for nothing still bloody irritated me.
I found George, the only guy I knew going. I'd gone to high school with him but didn't know very well. He was talking to some other guys I'd met in the line for tickets, a doughy guy with curly black hair and a couple of guys who were international students. We ordered parmas and chips and pints and played pool.
When the food arrived, the leaders of the camp, various second and third year students spoke. They all wore light pink shirts indicating they were on the Business Students Society's (BSS) Committee, who were organising the camp for us.
They outlined some vague expectations and some rules for us, and told us two buses would be taking us to the mystery destination where the camp would be held. People in the ticket line I'd talked to had speculated we were going to a beach, another girl said she heard it would be on a mountain range. I doubted it would be the latter, because one hundred students drinking on a mountain sounded like a good recipe for a hundred broken arms and legs.
After they finished talking we were off putting our bags on the buses that pulled up outside the pub. We got on board and I sat next to one of the international students. His name was Chai and he was from Burma. We chatted for a little while as we stopped passing skyscrapers and started passing the little brick houses of the inner suburbs. He was doing actuarial studies, which made him useful. If I made friends with him he would help me with the maths in some of my more mathematical subjects in the semester. Plus I could already tell he was a nice guy in for a rude awakening when we got to camp and he was exposed to the wonders of Australian drinking culture.
When we were driving past fields of wheat and cows and sheep, the leader of the organisers, a guy named Kuruc, who everyone called Kush, announced we were doing speed-dating. Everyone who was sitting in the aisle seat of the bus got up and began exchanging places. I was sitting in the window seat, so Myo had to go.
In his place arrived a girl with chestnut hair and pale skin wearing a Taylor Swift t-shirt. She introduced herself as Katie. She seemed nice and had already decided she would major in economics and finance despite not having to choose until after first year. I told her I didn't know what I would do, probably economics, I offered. Then Kush shouted over his loudspeaker that five minutes was up and it was time to switch.
Next came a blonde who I vaguely recognised. Then I realised that I'd gone to high school with her, too. Except I hadn't spoken a word to her in the whole six years she had been at my school, making our conversation fairly awkward. She was studying Arts and had come on Business Camp because she hadn't been able to get a ticket to Arts Camp.
For the next thirty minutes six more girls came, replacing each other every five minutes upon the announcement on the speaker. It was pretty difficult to get past superficial conversation in such a short timeframe. I must've said my degree and major and what subjects I'd picked in the first semester at least ten times. The only time I was saved was when one girl went on about her precious doggo for the whole five minutes. I hated dogs, so I kept quiet.
The last girl was a blonde and she was absurdly good-looking. Her name was Chloe and I was smitten immediate. She made me genuinely laugh several times, and I tried to avoid blatantly checking her out. I remembered being in a big group conversation with her in it in the line. I hadn't said anything, and didn't mention it because I thought she probably wouldn't remember me. We even got an extra few minutes to chat as the bus pulled into the place we would be staying and Kush announced speed-dating was over.
I looked out the window and saw we had arrived at a collection of drab buildings on a campground. There was a big main hall behind the clearing which our buses had stopped. All around it were little cabins numbered one to twelve. It was Campaspe Downs. Fucking Campaspe Downs, where I went on a school camp in primary school. So much for the beach.
As we got out of the bus, however, she bumped into her friends and I had to leave to find my bag, which was in the other bus. Now was a crucial time, where we would pick our cabin, which I knew was a a social sorting event. I looked around and everything was chaos. People seemed to be grabbing their bags and claiming cabins with warp speed. Not wanting to be faced with the ignominy of being forced into my cabin selection, I hurried over to a cabin with a big number two on the door. Inside I found myself with George and the international students I'd befriended in the line. Maxwell, the friendly guy with the American accent who I also met in the ticket line, suddenly walked in. He noticed the make-up of the room. Me, George and the quiet Asians.
"Thanks guys, but I gotta go," he said, before picking up his bag. He left the cabin with a flourish, presumably to find another cabin with cooler occupants.
Once everyone had put their bags down and claimed a bed – I took a top bunk – we went back out to the clearing in front of the main hall, where there were two wooden tables in front of the lake. A leader girl saw me walking down the gravel path and threw me a little square packet containing a round latex item, which I tucked into my back pocket, trying to hide my surprise. This wasn't a bush league operation.
It was hot and the lake looked appetisingly cool. Everyone gathered in a group and sat down on the tables and the grass in front of the leaders. They explained some more things to us, including that we didn't have to do anything we didn't feel comfortable doing. They gave us all dark blue singlets with the word FILTHY FRESHER emblazoned on the front in white. We swapped our tops for our new uniform.
After we got changed, I saw there was a fresher girl called Harriet who all the leaders seemed to knew and she clearly was playing the class clown role.
"Harriet you wanna kick us off?" A second year called Harry queried, pulling out a beer bong.
Harriet laughed and remained sitting down.
"Do it," Kush said.
"Do it – do it – do it," Harry began to chant.
"Do it – do it – do it- do it – do it – do it," the whole crowd joined in. After thirty seconds of this, Harriet smiled and calmly got up and walked to the leaders. She got down on one knee and accepted the funnel into her mouth. Harry began to pour a beer down the tube. Harriet drained the whole thing like a pro. Everyone cheered.
"Nudie run!" Yelled Kush.
"Only if you want to!" Added Gemma, another second year camp leader.
A buzz went through the crowd. People looked a bit taken aback. But the leaders stripped off and so did another ten or so ballsy freshers. It was a sea of body hair and chests and fleshy bellies and limp cocks and tits and arses. Well, my cousin did say this was an experience, I thought. The naked exhibitioners took off, screaming and laughing and disappeared down the gap between the main hall and our cabins.
Meanwhile, somebody had found the alcohol. Several dozen garbage bins filled with cold beer and cider on slabs of ice. There was only one kind of beer, Victorian Bitter (VB) and one kind of cider, apple Somersby's. We immediately crowded around and cracked them open. It was hot and we had developed a thirst. The girls mostly went for the ciders and the guys mostly went for the beers.
A guy called Marcus found a bunch of BSS stamped shotgun tools in a packet beside the bins. A few people grabbed them and cut a hole in the bottom of the VB cans with then. Then they shotgunned the beers instead of just drinking them like normal people, for some reason. There was a container full of red plastic cups and some people set up a beer pong game on one of the tables, which attracted a crowd. I watched the game, inching closer until i got as close as I could. The closer you were in the crowd signalled the more socially desirable you were, I thought. I was still two layers of people back and got chatting to a cheerful guy named Rory.
Rory was boring and I couldn't help but notice there was a guy running around like he'd just gotten out of a mental asylum, arms spread out like wings.
"Eddie!" A bloke called Seb called out. "You're flying mate!"
"YEAAAHHH-HAWWW" He tried to caw like an actual eagle and zoomed just past two girls who slapped him on the butt as he went by.
"It's Eddie the Eagle!" Shouted the lanky stoned-looking bloke.
Everyone laughed. Seb tossed Eddie a beer. Eddie promptly opened it, drank about half then poured the rest on his head, where a backwards cap and drug dealer-esque sunglasses rested. His singlet got drenched as he took off again in a frenzy.
The nudie run people came back, bodies red with exertion from their escapade. I couldn't help but notice that Gemma, a second-year leader, had a nice body. I quickly looked away when her eyes met mine. Then all the nude people got dressed as we shotgunned more beers and drank beer through the beer bong funnels.
Then the leaders told everyone to shut up. They annouced that for the duration of the camp, all organised activities would be conducted in our teams they had assigned us. They announced the teams, which had six or seven members and one second or third year leader from the committee.
In our team there was Patty, a short guy with glasses and a peaked cap. Everyone knew he was cool and he could make people laugh. There was Kelly, a girl as basic as they came. Ben, who was quiet and looked at Kelly often. There was the lanky stoned-looking guy, whose name I learned was Ollie. Finally there was Amir, our leader. He was pretty friendly and had this suave haircut.
They split us off for an introductory activity. It was two truths and one lie. Everything quickly become about drinking and sex. Given the taboo on those subjects, it was no wonder people fixated on them. We wanted what was excitingly illicit. I thought it was an interesting spin on the usual shit – broken arms, holidays and how many brothers somebody had. I learnt that Amir had got his stomach pumped when he was sixteen, Ben vomited in an Uber, and Kelly had once hooked up with a guy for a baggy of Nose Beers. The others had things that happened on their schoolies to share. I hadn't been to schoolies and lived a timid and boring life, so I made up three reasonable lies – that I'd had a threesome, that I'd had a raw one night stand, and and that I'd done a girl doggystyle.
They decided the threesome was a lie, and I acquiesed. I didn't want to have to make up a story when they asked me for details. I was no Hemingway.
Then we split off into what Kush called free time. We drank the beers and ciders, and some people decided to do some more shotgunning.
"Hey! What's your name?" Called out a guy. I saw my cabin-mate Myo was holding the beer bong and some random other guy was drinking. Myo had a nervous smile on his face, like he couldn't believe it all.
"Nick," I said.
"James. You want in on the next bong?"
The other guy's mouth detached from the funnel, spluttering out a big mouthful of VB. The rest of the beer inside came pouring out.
"Jake you absolute filthy mutt!" James laughed and directing the last dregs on top of Jake's head. Jake finished spluttering and started laughing along with his mate.
I walked forward and knelt down in front of James and his beer bong. Myo gave me a thumbs up, he was encouraging me as if I wasn't capable of sculling a beer or something. This disgusted me. I'd show him.
Jake passed James a beer from a nearby garbage can. He cracked it open and began to pour it down, which was when I pressed the funnel to my mouth. The first few mouthfuls of a beer scull were always easy, then in the next few you realised that there was more than half a beer left still to come down your throat. The bitterness always grew and grew it there was a point where it almost became too much, but if you got past that point you were basically done.
I utilised a technique I learnt from my cousin at the end of high school. I didn't swallow, simply letting the beer flow directly from The funnel through my mouth and down my throat. It rapidly reduced the time of the scull, and it must have been barely five or six seconds and I had finished the whole thing.
"Holy shit," Jake said.
"Fuck mate you're good at this!" James said. "Kush! Get over here!"
"Are you a fresher?" I asked.
"Yeah," James replied. Kush came over, along with Harry and Gemma.
"This bloke, what's your name again? Nathan? He just absolutely fucking murdered this bloody beer!"
"Nick," I said.
"Do another!" Kush said.
"Okay." I didn't particularly want to do another right after I had just done one. My poor stomach was going to be under assault. But I couldn't just cop out now I had an audience. Jake grabbed another VB and passed it to James. He pressed my mouth to the funnel. The beer came and this time it was much harder. The bitterness came on much sooner, and I was forced to gulp it down instead of swallowing. I barely got it down, tearing the funnel from my mouth the instant it was done. Kush and the others didn't look so impressed.
"His first one was better," James explained.
Suddenly people started disappearing up the slight hill from the tables to the main hall. The delicious smell of sausages wafted through through air, mixing with the stench of beer and body odour. In the main hall I joined the line in front of the kitchen area like the rest of them. We ate the sausages in bread with sauce, and I tried to eat as much as I could. I was pretty smashed. After we finished eating, Kush announced that tonight was going to be a toga party.
We all got up and filed out of the door of the main cabin. In the cabin, I extracted the sheet I'd brought in my suitcase. I tried to put it on, but realised I had absolutely no idea how to make sure it stayed on my body, let alone make a toga. I looked around at everyone else, who were trying to fashion knots in their bedsheets.
"Ok, does anyone know how to actually make a toga?" A bloke called George asked.
Everyone shook their heads.
Eventually, after much conversation and many failed togas, we helped each other make some poorly designed dresses. I wore underwear underneath in case of any… lapses. I also wore socks and runners, for there was no way I was going barefoot. We drank some beers in the room for courage and headed out back to the main hall.
Inside it was dark, and the ordinary wooden floors and walls and ceiling had been transformed into a rudimentary dance floor. A DJ had set up his tables on the far side, about ten metres from the door. Music was playing, and the hall was about half filled with people dancing in better-constructed togas than what we had. Still, no matter how elegant a toga, they showed a lot of skin, and both guys and girls eyed each other off. People would be getting action tonight.
Somebody I didn't recognise handed me a beer, for which I thanked him. I hadn't bolted straight into the dancing yet, and drinking gave me an excuse to lean up against the tables, which had been stacked up against the wall to make space.
More people started flooding in and the party really began to hit its stride. I finished my beer and decided to make a foray into the sweaty masses of dancing, toga-clad flesh. I found George and some others dancing in a loose circle on the edges. David really had some nice moves, which I mentally noted and began loosely imitating. There were no girls in our circle, and dancing with guys always made me feel like a loser, so I moved past them through the crowd. I found a circle with some other guys and girls I didn't know. I tried pathetically to work my in with them for all of two minutes then got bored.
Suddenly I looked around and people were hooking up right all around me. I decided to go find a willing party to do the same. I saw Caitlin dancing at the back.
"Oi!" I shouted over the music, touching her on the upper arm. "Wanna go outside?" I didn't feel comfortable making out in the hall.
"No!" She turned towards me and said.
"C'mon, it's too hot in here!" I yelled again.
"No!" She shouted again.
I slinked away, admitting defeat. I decided to go outside for a bit, get some air and assess my game plan.
Outside the building I walked aimlessly through the hot, sticky night air. I saw a girl sitting on the bank with her feet in the water. She was on her phone, but frowned and put it in her back pocket. She was heading towards the toilets when it fell from her jean shorts. She didn't notice. I watched her disappear into the toilet room, and went over and picked up her phone.
I was walking towards the toilets to give it to her when she came out again
"You dropped your phone," I said and held it out to her.
She smiled. "Thanks."
"This Ryan guy keeps messaging you asking for a pic of your boobs by the way."
She looked at the phone and then crouched down. "Can you help me? I want to take a photo of my knees in my bra."
"Sure." I took the phone from her and she reached inside her singlet, unclasping the bra with little effort. I tried not to look at her bare nipples underneath the singlet fabric as she pulled the bra from out underneath it. She squeezed her knees together and covered them with the bra. This created a convincing cleavage line between the start of her thighs. I took the photo close up and from a higher angle, hoping to mimic a selfie. I took more several shots and gave the phone back to her.
"These'll work. Thanks again." She said, tapping on her phone and sending one off to Ryan.
"Do you want to get a drink?" I asked her.
"Sorry," she smiled. "I'm going to join Andy and his group in room 5."
"Can I come?"
"Yeah, but there's something you should know."
"Andy and them think you're a little weird."
"I don't know why. I just heard Sam say that when they saw you walking down the path to the main hall earlier."
We walked from the toilets to where the cabins were situated. Room 5 had loud music blaring. My new friend Knee-Boob Girl, who had told me her name was Pia, opened the door.
In the room there were four double decker bunk beds. Eight or nine people were sitting on the beds and sprawled across the floor. The knee-boob girl acknowledged them loudly and went to sit down on a bed where a really tall bloke's limbs were taking up the whole damn thing. It was clearly her cabin and these were her friends. I sat down against the wall next to the door.
"Anyone else find that Eric guy really annoying?" A blonde girl named Laura who I'd speed-dated on the bus said.
"He's a bit weird," another guy said and they all agreed.
"Have you met Lauren?" She mocked. "Like, my name's Laura you dumb cunt!"
Everyone laughed, including Eddie the Eagle who cackled like a crazy man. It was one of those situations where everyone agreed and piled on whatever or whoever was getting shit talked. I stayed quiet. After several minutes the group conversation split up into several smaller ones. I got talking to an asian girl next to me who'd gone to high school in the same suburb as me.
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