THE ANNUAL YOUNG PEOPLES CAMP - 12-17 APRIL 2003
by Dorothy Tortell
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The tenth Annual Young Peoples Camp was
held from 12-17 April at the Waihoanga Centre which is approximately one-and-half-hours
drive north of Wellington. The Centre is
situated in a rural setting above the Otaki Gorge. Our
accommodation consisted of a large building with a dining room/lounge combined, a large
hall and several bunkrooms/bedrooms. There
was a sense of warmth and nurturing from the house and we all felt very relaxed.
There were 11 participants at the Camp, one each from Auckland, Napier, Wanganui and Invercargill,
two each from Hokitika and Christchurch and three from Wellington. Ages ranged from 12 to 25 years old with six males
and five females attending. For two of the participants this was their first Camp. As
with other Camps, all participants very quickly got to know and respect each other and
soon were offering knowledge, support and encouragement to each other.
This Camp was run on a similar basis as
past Camps with a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities. From my experience this is the
most appropriate and most successful approach for these Camps. The participants are always
eager to learn about HD, to build on the knowledge they have acquired at previous Camps,
and to share this knowledge with those attending the Camp for the first time. As usual there was a Question Box and campers were
encouraged to leave any questions on any aspect of HD, anonymously. The questions stimulated a lot of discussion in
special sessions dedicated to HD.
On the first evening the Campers were
encouraged to identify 3 or 4 aims they hoped to achieve at the Camp and write these up in
a diary they were given. Each day, time was
set aside for them to assess the progress they were making towards achieving their goals
and record their feelings and thoughts on the Camp and on HD.
The outdoor activities consisted of
high rope activities, mountain biking, clay pigeon shooting, horse riding, a pool session
at the local indoor pool and sea kayaking. One
evening the Campers took part in a nightline activity which increased their
mutual trust and confidence in each other. They
were blindfolded and lengths of rope kept them together in a long line. One Camper without blindfold then led them
along the stream, over bridges, up and down steps and narrow paths by giving instructions
to the first in the line. Each, in turn,
passed on the instructions to the person behind. The
participants learnt to listen to the person immediately in front of them and all had to,
in turn, trust the leader.
On the first morning, the Campers went
down to the river to choose a special stone where they were encouraged to
store all their special memories and thoughts of the Camp. Each participant
shared with the other Campers why they had chosen the particular stone and at the end of
each day they shared with each other what were the special thoughts and memories they had
stored in the stone. We discussed how we must respect each others stone, opinions
The subject of HD was never far from
the young persons mind and both formally and informally many discussions took place. They discussed What HD means to me and
Have my thoughts and feelings on HD changed over the past year and if so, how and
why? The final group discussion was
Where do I go from here? Campers
were asked to think about where they were in life at the present time and what they hoped
to achieve in the future. They then had to
think about how they will reach these goals allowing for HD in their life. This activity has been done in previous camps and
it was exciting to see that many of the participants have already achieved some of the
goals they had identified in previous camps.
The first specialized unit in the
country for those with HD will open in Wellington later in the year. This is a very
exciting development in the care of those with HD and the concept of such a
house was explained to the Campers. The
manager of the house, Margaret Simmons, was invited to meet with the young
people and outline her vision for the house and to discuss with them how the
house will be run. At the end of
the session, the Campers presented Margaret with a series of decorated flower pots which
they hoped will be used in the new HD house.
On the last morning the participants
planted a native tree in the garden to remember the tenth HD Camp. Next to the tree, they placed a large stone which
they had brought up from the river and on which they had inscribed their names.
At the final discussion before leaving
the Camp, the participants concluded that they had achieved their goals from the Camp and
that they appreciated the time they had had to discuss their mutual concerns regarding HD
and the effect it has on them, their families and friends.
This Camp was a great success. I believe new friendships were made and old
friendships strengthened. The bonds formed
and the sharing of stories, will lead to continuing mutual support.
Such a Camp can only be successful with
the appropriate facilitation and help. All
outdoor activities were organized and facilitated by David Clegg, a recreational
specialist who has been involved with four previous HD Camps, supported by the Wellington
Boys and Girls Institute. Without
Davids input these activities would not have been carried out in such a professional
and safe manner. I wish to also acknowledge
Barry Legge who made us so welcome at Waihoanga Centre, his wonderful retreat. Barry also provided a great deal of help with the
For the past three years Mark Chapple
from Christchurch has taken leave from his work and arranged for his little girl to be
cared for by her grandparents so he could come to help with the HD Camp. His input has been outstanding, his knowledge of
HD and the effect it has on families, plus his excellent rapport with the participants
makes him a most valuable member of the team. Without his participation, this Camp would
not have been so successful. I personally,
and the Wellington Association are greatly indebted to Mark and his family.
To all the Campers - thank you for coming and for being so
open, thoughtful and supportive. I enjoyed spending six days with you.
To all those who supported the Camp
financially, including many family members, MS West Coast, Pub Charity, Huntingtons
Disease Association (Auckland) and Huntingtons Disease Association (Christchurch)
our heartfelt thanks to you. Without your help this Camp would not have happened.