Continuing my theme of summer preparations, today i want to talk about Camp Bongkud. Bongkud is our most visited camp during the summer months with most teams passing through at some point. Hence it has some pretty juicy projects to get stuck into. The camp is having a minor refurbishment with new roofing on the communal area and a new larger storeroom. We are also looking at putting in a reed bed system to filter some of the grey water coming out of the kitchen and wash areas. The projects are big too with the old favourites of the community hall construction and gravity water feed still needing plenty of work. In particular, we are currently working very hard on the community hall to get all the steel uprights and cross beams in place, as well as all the roofing, before the summer teams arrive. This is more technical work which is not suited to school teams, especially clambering around on the roof 20 ft up! åÊOnce the roof is up we can start the hard work of putting up all the interior and exterior walls. We have decided to make and use our own bricks for the community hall, saving money but also more importantly reducing our environmental footprint and hopefully demonstrating to the community that manually made and pressed bricks from local soil really do work. And guess whose making all the bricks? Yep thats right, the school teams – we are finishing off the hand press for the bricks as i write. We need about 8400 bricks we reckon, and there are 40 days of teams in the camp – so thats 210 bricks a day. We reckon we can do it but its going to be hard graft with perhaps the teams taking shifts on the brick press – we will probably have a daily competition to see which team can churn out the most bricks. Of course it won’t all be brick making – there will be brick laying which needs to be of a high quality to ensure the walls are straight and don’t fall down, some plastering and other general tasks. In addition the gravity water feed still needs a lot of work doing with drainage channels to be dug and wire cages (gabions) to be filled with rocks, and also the laying of a new concrete slab base – so loads of hard manual labour. We have also been asked by the chief of the village, who is also our project foreman, to assist with extending the existing kindergarten so it has 2 classrooms – this we obviously agreed to and will find the cash from somewhere – we reckon about GBP 1000 to do it and of course we will use our own bricks again – more bricks to be made! We have already made quite an impression at the kindergarten with various school teams adding a new toilet, a new kitchen area, more covered areas and a concrete path around the outside as well as some pretty murals and painting. By adding another classroom we will be able to really make a difference. So all in all there is plenty of work to be done in Bongkud by the visiting teams. This will be interspersed with the usual dance lessons, musical instruments and singing practice, some traditional arts and crafts, english teaching, local cooking and some permaculture work. It’ll be a very busy summer for anyone going to Bongkud!

The community hall with half its steel beams and uprights erected – loads more to do

Another view of the steel uprights and beams – it should be all up in 2 weeks time

The new architectural intern, Sophie, on site for the first time – she will oversee the work during the summer so is now studying the plans very closely

A colourful mural at the kindergarten where we will build a new classroom – the cat is eating a fish, not smoking a cigarette as i first thought!

Incredible clouds swirling round Mt Kinabalu we observed when driving away from Bongkud