With the last outreach camp going ahead in 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Outreach team were keen to make up for lost time. From 27th–29th of September, the outreach holiday program committee made up of volunteers, were exhaustive in their preparation and made the transport rounds and soon had a bus load of excited young people on Mangrove Mountain. The outreach team really came together to make sure the young people engaged in the program were able to share this experience together, with staff from the social work, SHS, SIL and the Central Coast Youth Hope branch filling in the transport gaps or volunteering their time to support various shifts throughout the camp.
The theme of the camp was positive and healthy relationships and with such an awesome team and a well-planned schedule this was delivered seamlessly. The attending young people were supported to make a transition from being glued to their familiar caseworkers, to bonding with each other over craft, board, and ball games. The caretaker of the campground – Carmel, hosted a cultural bush walk around the property discussing the native flora and fauna along with their significance to the local indigenous people. A walk past the waterfalls on the property had the attending young people eager to return with their swimmers. Some of the young people attending expressed they had never seen a waterfall in person, let alone had the opportunity to get in one and this remarkable spot became a regular visit in the coming days. The young people enjoyed a rotation of fun, from a macrame clinic in the main hall which had young people and staff alike producing over 50 key chains, while outside in the sun a friendly game of cricket was enjoyed by all. Followed by home-made burgers and toasted s'mores over the campfire. No camp would be complete without an hour of spotlight followed by a team-building game of ‘A minute to win it’. The energy and co-operation that was shown by the young people during this game was contagious and memories of tic tac toe, hands-free Oreo eating and blanket-worm racing won’t be forgotten easily.
Day 2 began with the delicious smell of bacon and egg rolls before a very special guest speaker; Brett Connellan arrived to give a presentation. Brett spoke passionately about overcoming adversity against the odds following a life-changing shark attack. A sausage sizzle and a heated game of 44 home led to a trip to the local beach where the young people enjoyed fishing, swimming, and a sandcastle competition. Returning late in the afternoon home made pizza was on the menu as a sudden hailstorm rolled in. The team whipped up some home-made cold rock-style ice-creams enjoyed by all before the exhausted group settled in for hot chocolates and a movie night.After 3 days and 2 nights of bonding there was a distinct sense of togetherness while the young people cooked pancakes on the barbecue and shared toppings around the table. A bush walk was followed by a guest attendance by Tam from Speaking in Colour who guided the young people through a weaving workshop. The young people shared their favourite sentiments of the camp and reflected on how they can take these home with them. Each of the young people were presented with a framed group photo from day one and enjoyed signing the back of each other’s frames. The young people were also presented a hand-knitted blanket kindly donated by Warm Blankets For Everyone and encouraged to associate this with the wholesome moments shared during camp when experiencing challenging times. It was during this ceremony Mangrove Mountain truly became Magic Mountain, with young people and staff alike not wanting to leave.This camp and the powerful memories made for the young people engaged in various Outreach Programs could not have occurred without the incredible efforts of all attending staff who generously gave up their time to make it the wonderful success it was. Particular acknowledgement must be given for April Calo, Caseworker in the Youth Hope team. A natural camp leader who headed the holiday program committee, and Isaac King from Youth Hope for the coordination of the day to day running of the camp and looking after everyone so well. We can’t wait for next year.