Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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The flagship of the ABTC 40th anniversary celebrations was a weekend camp at the CYC camp in Ngaruawahia. Over 80 people came for a wonderful time of walks, sharing memories, songs, catching up with one another, and much more.


We drove to the camp with most of us arriving early evening, to be greeted with the 40th anniversary banner that was rolled out at the AGM dinner in August, at the back of the main hall. This was the same red banner that was used for the silver jubilee at Rotorua in 2004 but with the club logo updated. There was an extensive display of memorabilia including old photograph albums and tramping gear. A glow worm walk had been planned for 7:30pm, but spits of rain caused this to be knocked on the head. So we put forward our opening time in the hall from 8:30pm to 8pm.

This began with the welcome and we sang the 40th Anniversary Theme Song to the tune of Home on the Range. The planning committee had decided to use a familiar tune for the song, instead of the 25th anniversary theme song which was to an unfamiliar tune that we sang at our camp at Rotorua in 2004. In her opening speech club president Barbara Langridge quoted To God be the glory, for great things He has done. Like the Israelites who had a journey for 40 years in the wilderness, God has provided, guided and sustained us as a club. We started with a small group in 1979 and this has grown to a membership of 125+. The presence of God with us in our fellowship, sharing God's word in devotions on the track, caring for one another, teamwork and supporting each other. 40 years duration requires handing over to the next generation. As Moses had to pass on the leadership to Joshua, this happens in our club, we have to keep passing on the leadership and our skills and expertise, and our training track is a way of doing this to help people learn leadership skills, and so the club will keep alive with more and more leaders. The Israelites were led by fire and by cloud. David Moore shared how he set up his organisation HutReno that cares for and maintains backcountry huts. Phillip Donnell then gave a presentation about his organization Creation Care New Zealand. This is a Charitable Trust, which exists for the purpose of inspiring and equipping Christians churches, to become involved in the care of Godís creation.
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A rolling slideshow that Phillip had made up with 200 photos from over the 40 years was shown over supper, using classical music such as Ladies In Lavender, Arrival of the Queen Of Sheba and Molly Maguires.


A selection of tramps was offered for the morning and early afternoon. After breakfast we collected our packed lunches from the servery. The trips offered were: Kauri Loop Track, Hakarimata Rail Trail, Hakarimata Summit and Southern Section Hakarimatas, and each option was well supported and enjoyed. They ranged from 2-hour easy return trips to more strenuous ones, and they all finished by early afternoon.
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Other activities offered included a soak in the heated pool. The main swimming pool was empty but there was a smaller headed indoor pool that was at a nice warm temperature. Archery was a popular activity, as was the mini golf, flying fox and pedal boats on the campís lake. It was a short walk to a lookout platform that gave a panoramic view of the camp. That was where the flying fox was in the 1960s where riders would hang on with their arms; now the flying fox is a sit-on one in the playground below the lake.
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At 3:45pm we gathered in the hall for our reminiscing time. This included a quiz, where we broke into groups to answerquestions in four categories, interspersed by stories from various members. Nigel recalled a trip he went on to the Waitakere Ranges with his young twin boys, who have now just turned 21. Max told of going on a tramp at Whirinaki where he asked someone else on the track how far is it to the next hut. They replied that there was this Christian "holy roller" group on the track, and they may be there by the time we arrived. Heather spoke of a tramp she was doing in the 1980s on a hot summer weekend. The group had run out of water and were very thirsty. When they got to the hut Delsie brought out an orange, peeled and broke it up and shared it with the others, giving a few welcome drops of juice. Next day the group was so parched they didnít talk as they dropped down to the finish, and were really relieved when they came across a stream. This reminded Heather of the Psalms where the soul pants for the Lord. John read a poem about a trip to Paremoremo in Feb 2009 where a family who was out in their boat got stuck on the mud and waded ashore to see if they could find a farmhouse and ring for a taxi home. We were able to give them a ride instead, all the way home. Margaret recalled driving to the start of a weekend tramp. They got as far as Tokoroa and found a tree had blown down onto the road. They were able to clear a way for the van to get through, and when they arrived at their overnight place there was no electricity. Fortunately they had a generator so they used that.

We went outside for our official group photograph, taken by a CYC staff member to ensure each one of us was in the picture.
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Over dinner as we were eating, Garry Sheeran shared his story of a trip up Mt Moehau in 1988, where we had intended tramping over Moehau to Sandy Bay on the other side, but being forced to return the same way due to being unable to find the track. We got caught by the falling darkness and were forced to bed down in the bush overnight with no food or bedding, keeping warm beside a fire.

We got back into the hall at 7pm, and Phillip began with sharing thoughts about growth. Jesus grew mentally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. One of the reasons the club was founded, actually, was to help people grow. Phillip always found hiking to be spiritually uplifting. It does something to his spirit, when he ventures into the outdoors. He always feels inspired. tramping has been the context for some of the very best friendships of my life. One of the benefits of being in a club is that you're with other people, rather than just doing your own thing. And he has been blessed over the years with the camaraderie, the cooperation, the fellowship, the mutual trust, the mutual dependence and support of having other people sharing the responsibility. Phillip said that sharing the burden has been a really great bonus. More importantly, don't stop growing, but have a growth mindset, keep on going. We then sang the theme song, then some awards were given out including completing the nine Great Walks of New Zealand. Garry interviewed ABTC founder and first president Jon Collins about the early days of the club, and how it was born from when he was involved with the Sandringham Baptist youth group. Then came the fashion parade of historic tramping gear going back to the days of packs with steel or wooden frames, swandri bush shirts and ABTC-branded tee and polo shirts.
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Murray interviewed Alasdair Nicoll and David Walker about the club's first ever summer tramp, Mt Taranaki 1980-81. We had two sing-along musical items with the words displayed on the screen. The first one was The Low Way Home based on the Supertramp song Long Way Home. This was followed by The Finest Bunch based on The Orange And The Green. As with most concerts, our last item was a real climax. A group of people performed a dance item with props to a medley including Tip Toe Through The Tulips, Happy Wanderer, I Will Follow Him, These Boots Are Made For Walking, and Candy Man.  
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The 40th birthday cake was brought in and the candles lit. Jon and club veteran Delsie Guy had the honour of cutting the cake. As we had supper the rolling slideshow showing photos taken over the 40 years was once again shown.
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We had our thanksgiving service at 9:30am in the main hall. Barbara recalled her first Easter tramp with the Club, climbing up the hills in miserable weather. When the group got to the ridge, the sun came out, and she likened this to the misery of Jesus dying on the cross and the joy of His resurrection two days later. Ali gave a reflection on God's creation and how her heart connects to God when she is out in the wilderness. Jon said that what we now have is a witness to the people who have been in its development and the past 40 years. Paul shared how he joined the club 30 years ago after being invited to give a presentation on a trekking trip to Nepal. He commented on how putting on those tramping boots takes one away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to the sheer beauty of Godís creation around us.

Phillip, wearing a brown Auckland Baptist Tramping Club jumper that the late Robyn Foster had knat for him in the early years of the club, presented the sermon 40 Years in the Wilderness, based on the Israelitesí 40 years in the wilderness. Looking back, lessons from the past: God met them where they were; He will make a way, where there doesn't seem to be away; He  will lead us day and night; He fights on behalf of his people; He provides in miraculous ways; He is always with us; The hardest struggles, have the great potential to develop patience and endurance; to get to the blessing God may take us through various stretching experiences. Lack of faith may have tragic consequences especially if we impeach Godís word and power. We must trust and obey lest we miss out on the good things He intends for us. Looking forward, lessons for the future: Be strong and courageous. Strength is physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual empowering. Courage is not the absence of fear but being able to encounter danger and difficulty with firmness and resolve. Strength and courage is gained by recognising and relating to Godís will, resting in His promises, renewal in His principles revealed in His Word, reckoning on Godís person and presence, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
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After morning tea we went back into the hall for our final session. After singing another parodied Supertramp song Give A Little Bit, we had some more stories. Phillip told of doing the Hollyford track in Dec 1988, and the group had left the toilet rolls behind. On the first night they had to use whatever paper they could find, and next day they went to the commercial group hut by the airstrip to see if they could buy some toilet rolls. There werenít any rolls to spare, but the group were given packets of old paper towels. Paul shared of doing the Tararua Southern Crossing on a summer tramp in 2004. The group saw the Mt Hector hut in the distance marked by a large wooden cross as they tramped towards it. And this reminds us of the cross of Christ, which draws us and enables us to conquer. Roger recalled having to use emergency food rations they had brought on a tramp in Egmont National Park. Afterwards we pitched in to stack the chairs.

Some of us had already left for home by the time we had our lunch, having cleaned and hoovered their dorms. After a final run of brooms and hoovers through the hall and dining room, we headed home having had a wonderful time of fun, fellowship, memories and catching up with longlost friends.