I don't recall writing about COAC previously in these pages. Founded in the 1990's by members of two Darlington Churches COAC seeks to use outdoor activities with much innovation as an independent extension of these Church's youth and family work. The organisation has skills in the areas of: water sports, climbing, caving and archery in fact the first "phase" of this year's Ellerton weekend was an open canoeing session with a local Guide group. They run regular archery sessions in the village Church Hall; pool kayak sessions in the winter and a number of canoe river trips to name but a few events. COAC's identity is very much in being a local group, serving the community in which the organisation is based. The "club" is bound together by ties of relationship rather than an emphasis on organisational structure and hierarchy.
This year's Ellerton saw about 35 folk attend plus the above mentioned Guides and began with set up and fish and chips on Friday evening. There was the usual late night "option" of gathering around a blazing camp fire on what was a cool but dry evening.
Saturday morning dawned bright and fine as forecast and the day began with the first open canoe session on the water, with the Guides, at around 09:30. This overlapped with a kayak session for some of the younger element that was present and events were underway. Session followed session on the water with ages from under tens to over sixties enjoying a warm but breezy Ellerton day which even saw a bit of canoe sailing and a water based orienteering course. Ellerton is a vibrant place these days and we shared the water with divers, sailors and a multitude of open water swimmers. All that said its a real bonus for COAC to have a camping field to themselves for the weekend.
Saturday ended with a barbecue, which was excellent, and another night around the camp fire. The rain held off and restricted itself to overnight, allowing ultimately for dry tents to be taken down for everybody.
Sunday was windy and the usual "service" afloat was held, appropriately, with discussion of Jesus calming the storm! Throughout the course of the morning tents came down and farewells were said.
This year's Ellerton had a very different feel to it, relaxed but purposeful, with a real sense of energy and determination - already looking forward to 2016!!