Alcoholics Anonymous Weekend at Nyroca

A couple of weeks’ ago, Alcoholics Anonymous held a weekend camp at Nyroca, with about 25 participants. Organised by the local AA group, men and women came from near and far. The fellowship brought together many stories of success in combating the scourge of alcoholism. From what I understand, alcohol is the most dangerous drug known to mankind.


Talking to some of the AA members over the weekend, I realised that alcoholism knows no boundaries: a woman in the legal profession, and a senior officer from the armed services, and the other participants were from a cross section of society. To understand their situation and to empathise with them is astonishingly balming.


The first of AA’s 12 steps says: ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable’.  No matter how long they have been sober, alcoholics in AA always speak of their alcoholism in the present tense. For example: ‘My name is Bill, and I am an alcoholic’. This is because alcoholics are never really cured of their alcoholism – in that if they start drinking alcohol again, they are almost certainly bound to relapse into uncontrolled drinking.


And yet while abstinence has saved the lives of countless people, not drinking alcohol at all is still seen by many as rather weird. In a society such as ours, with such an entrenched drink culture, a  very powerful liquor industry, advertising and peer group pressure exerts an enormous influence.


Over the past week or two, several groups, including retired Scout leaders from Adelaide, and later, a group of Rotarians, have stayed at Nyroca helping out with various projects. And the thought occurred to me that in one’s daily avocation, especially over the long stretch in a specialised field, can be distinctly limiting in appreciation of the wider world. Retirement however provides an opportunity to engage with like-minded ‘baby boomers’, develop new interests and strengthen one’s inner self.


Last week the indomitable Vicki Shakes, principal of Lake Wangary Primary School, organised the annual leadership camp for about 35 students from Penong, Koonibba, Poonindie and a couple of other schools including Lake Wangary. In the stimulating activities, the children from far and wide soon began interacting with one another as only youngsters can. The skilful teachers divided the students into smaller groups and kept the children’s interest in whatever was being taught, such as damper making, yabby catching and other indoor activities. It was a pleasure to observe professional teachers at their work.

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