THE ANNUAL YOUNG PEOPLES CAMP 2001
by Dorothy Tortell, Social Worker
Back to Annual Camps page
The eighth annual Young People's Camp
organised by the Huntington's Disease Association (Wellington) was held from 14-19 January
at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre of New Zealand (OPC). The Centre is situated on the western
side of Tongariro National Park in the Central Plateau of the North Island. This was a
wonderful venue to hold such a Camp with the location so close to the three volcanoes,
Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro all of which provided a beautiful and serene backdrop to
very good accommodation facilities and endless possibilities of exciting outdoor
activities. The theme of this Camp was Challenges.
The Camp's Objectives were, for the young people...
A total of fifteen young people, all of whom had attended previous
Camps, joined us at the OPC. Participants came from Invercargill, Christchurch, Hokitika,
Wellington, Wairarapa, Wanganui, Taupo, Napier, and Tauranga with ages ranging from 13 to
26 years old. In spite of the range in ages, everyone got on so well and in fact it felt
like one big happy family. It was evident that the participants had known each other for
some years and that very strong bonds had been made. The support, understanding and
concern for each others needs, coupled with the free sharing of information, made this an
- to meet others from similar Huntington's background and circumstances
- to share information and experiences about Huntington's Disease;
- to support each other and by doing so, develop a mutual support network;
- to have fun.
As in previous years, there was a mixture of indoor and outdoor
activities and discussion sessions on all aspects of Huntington's Disease. The
participants had an opportunity to take up the challenges of a high rope course, making
their own raft and then sailing it down the Tongariro River, walking, caving, and climbing
up to the craters on Mount Tongariro. This hike was an amazing experience and I must
compliment the participants on working so well as a team and making it possible for all to
reach the craters.
Another of the activities, involved each participant finding a
special stone from a nearby river. This stone, which appealed to them and in some way
meant something special to them - the colour, the shape, the size or the texture, served
as a memory stone. Each participant explained what the stone meant to them, and why, and
they were encouraged to take it with them each day and store in it all their special
memories of the Camp.
Each evening the group had discussions on various aspects of
Huntington's Disease. As always it was wonderful to see the participants so supportive and
sensitive to each others' needs.
The Camp was a great success and all the objectives were met.
Campers met other young people in the same situation and shared information on
Huntington's Disease. They formed part of a group where those around them understood what
they were going through and provided mutual support. They overcame feelings of isolation
and left the Camp more confident and with an increased knowledge of Huntington's Disease.
They returned home more resilient and with a better understanding of their family member
with HD. The support network which operates between Camps was strengthened.
The Association is deeply grateful to the following who provided
generous financial support which helped to make this Camp possible: Variety Club of New
Zealand Inc, New Zealand Community Trust, Ten Pin Bowling Petone, Tower Trust,Winton and
Margaret Bear Charitable Trust, the Outdoor Pursuits Centre of New Zealand, the
participants and their families.
My thanks to the staff at the OPC who provided an exciting and safe
programme with great sensitivity.
Special thanks must go to Mark Chapple. Mark's compassion, his calm
nature, his support his understanding of the issues that affect the young people and his
wonderful sense of humour helped make this such a successful Camp. My sincere thanks also
to his family who made it possible for him to attend the Camp.
My thanks also to all the Campers who got into the spirit of the
Camp right away and who participated fully and sincerely in all the activities. As always,
I really enjoyed meeting you all again and sharing the few days with you and I feel very
privileged to be part of your lives during these few days each year.
ANNOUNCEMENT Dorothy Tortell will no longer be running the camps for
the young people. On behalf of our Wellington Association I would like to thank Dorothy
for all that she has contributed to the camps and the welfare of the young people. These
camps are wonderful times of sharing, catching up,learning, supporting and caring for one
another and they involve huge amounts of time, effort and emotional input. Without
Dorothy's dedication these camps would not have been possible.