THE ANNUAL YOUNG PEOPLES CAMP - APRIL 2005
by Dorothy Tortell
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The eleventh Annual Young Peoples Camp was held from 19-23
April at the El Rancho Holiday Park, Waikanae, which is situated about one hour
north of Wellington. All young people from Huntingtons families throughout
New Zealand, between the ages of 12-26 years, were welcome to participate.
The Objectives of the Camps are:
- to enable young people from families with HD to meet others from similar
- to share information and experiences about HD
- to support each other and by doing so, develop a mutual support network
- to have fun
The Camp operates as a special support group and has many
positive features; it can be a source of power for participants; it provides
access to accurate information, and genuine support, help and friendship; provides
an opportunity to express anger with Huntingtons and fears about the future;
creates a sense of belonging and being in the same boat; overcoming feelings
of isolation; and provides an opportunity to get feedback about coping and to
share coping techniques.
There were 12 participants at the Camp one each from
Auckland and Wellington; two each from Blenheim, Invercargill and Greymouth; and four from
Christchurch. Their ages ranged from 12-20 years. For eight 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
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.
These activities encouraged confidence, fostered trust and
cooperation amongst the participants, as well as provided an environment where mutual
respect and support were nurtured.
The outdoor activities, which were very popular, consisted of
high rope activities, flying fox, horizontal bungee, indoor rock climbing, go-karts,
kayaking and river rafting. The Campers were encouraged to find a special
stone from the Otaki River and to store all their special memories and
thoughts of the Camp in this stone. Each participant shared with the other Campers why
they had chosen the particular stone and the special thoughts and memories they had stored
David Clegg, a highly skilled facilitator with full outdoor
safety qualifications and an acknowledged expert in Adventure Based Learning and Adventure
Therapy, organized and facilitated all these activities. David has been involved in four
other Camps ran by the Wellington Association and his input has been invaluable in
organizing these outdoor activities
A number of sessions were focused on aspects of HD. The
participants discussed What HD means to me, Difficult/stressful things
about HD, Unhealthy ways to cope with HD, Healthy ways to cope
with HD and Where to go for help. As usual there was a Question Box and
participants were encouraged to leave in it any questions on aspects of HD, anonymously.
The questions were discussed and answered during one of the HD sessions.
The objectives of the Camp were achieved, 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. As well as David, I wish to also acknowledge the help from Carla
Perry and Lynn Farrow, both Social Workers with the Wellington Association.
To all the Campers - thank you for coming and for sharing your
stories and knowledge on HD we look forward to welcoming you to the next Camp.
To all those who supported the Camp financially, including many
family members, Sir Roy McKenzie, MS West Coast Society Inc, Marlborough HD Support Group,
Southland MS Society, Adams Hope Trust Greymouth, Lion Foundation, NZ Community Trust,
Pelorus Trust, Phoenix Trust, Huntingtons Disease Association (Auckland) and
Huntingtons Disease Association (Christchurch), our heartfelt thanks to you. Without
your help this Camp would not have happened.
Senior Social Worker