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7 Sep 16


by Dorothy Tortell, Social Worker

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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.

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 outstanding Camp.

The Camp's Objectives were, for the young people...
  • 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.

Dorothy Tortell
Social Worker

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.

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Appreciation and thanks must go to Judy Lyon for compiling the wealth of information available
on this site, and to Graham Taylor for maintaining the original site for so long.

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