“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch
There is a lot of negativity around someone being a young carer with a large focus being on the things they miss out on; growing up too fast and having to deal with adult issues at a young age. However if a situation cannot be changed, how can we make the best of it? If we focus on more of the positive aspects of being a young carer; such as compassion, strength, organisation and a very unique skill set, given the right tools these young people could be great leaders within their communities as they are in their families.
Day 1 -Welcoming. 17 young carers were about to learn this as they stepped off the bus at Nanga Bush Camp full of nerves for the ILC’s Young Carers Camp Hero held in conjunction with zero2hero. The pre camp nerves didn’t last long though as it was straight into getting to know you games and group allocation. Competitive rivalries and group spirit was made with an evening of 60 second challenges including blindfold tests, cup stacking, Pictionary, talking challenge, dance off, head stands and a singing competition just to name a few. We were already astounded by the talent, leadership and competitiveness of the campers.
Day 2 – BIG. Friendships were beginning to form and this was evident at the low ropes challenges. It was amazing to see the encouragement and team work with some campers even surprising themselves overcoming fears and completing challenges they never thought possible. This would not have been possible without the support from their fellow campers and mentors. After lunch there was a discussion about Love and how each individual gives and receives love. This gave our campers more insight into who they are and how they can better relate and communicate with those around them. After dinner Ashlee Harrison from zero2hero talked to the campers about her story and why she founded zero2hero to promote positive mental health and prevent suicide. For more information please see http://zero2hero.com.au/
Day 3 – BIGGER! We had lots of guest speakers to empower our young carers and get those cogs turning about their futures. Theresa Bates from Health Coaching WA spoke about nutrition and how what we eat can affect our physical and mental health. Adam from Armed for Life ran two interactive workshops about self esteem and resilience. We then had Calvin Coyles from Young and Wildly Successful discuss making mistakes and overcoming barriers. Campers were left feeling inspired and ready to make positive change in their lives to improve their futures.
We were lucky enough to have Masterchef season 1 contestant Josh Catalano as one of our camp mentors. He ran a cooking challenge that most would have found tough! $10 each, 30 minutes to shop and 60 minutes to cook a main meal, dessert and lunch for the following day. Team work at its finest! We saw some creative genius (minus the blue food dye) emerge as these young people called on their skills developed as young carers. Everyone did a fantastic job but the girls pulled it off with a meal leaving the camp cooks questioning their job certainty!
Day 4 HUGE! The campers were split into 2 groups and faced the physical challenges of rock climbing and zip lining through the beautiful Jarrah Forrest. Everyone challenged themselves and gave it a go and some were surprised by their abilities! The second group was off canoeing.
In pairs there were games and races testing our communication and upper body strength. Its all fun and games until someone yells “fruit salad” which resulted in all but two campers having a refreshing (freezing) dip. For some it was more of a challenge getting back into the canoe whilst in fits of laughter! When we had all recovered and warmed up I spoke to the group about my personal experiences as a carer and the supports that are available to them after Camp Hero from the ILC’s Young Carers Program and other organizations. It was a lovely evening around the campfire toasting marshmallows and sharing stories leaving everyone a little sad about leaving tomorrow.
Day 5 Goodbyes. This morning we focused on the ‘what now?’ What do we do with these new skills and confidence? Campers assessed their core values and how what they have learnt can be directed towards achieving their goals. It was an emotional goodbye because so many close bonds had been formed with both campers and mentors alike. I am confident that 17 young carers returned home young leaders of the future having being given the tools and confidence to flourish.
A BIG thank you to all of our wonderful mentors, volunteers, guest speakers, contributors and most of all campers. I can’t wait to do it all again!