121 - 179 Greigs Rd, Truganina VIC 3029
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African Family Camp


our office
Melbourne, Australia


Block your calendar on - 2013-02-10
2013-02-11 @ 1:00 am - 12:59 am
Simon and his baby sister, Sarah.

Event description

After being a leader on the most recent African Family Camp, I now understand why the students from the Homework Club (HC) love it so much, and why they line up months in advance for the chance to attend. It was awesome. Really, ridiculous amounts of fun.

Fortunately, I have the pleasure of working with the very families who attended this camp, in the Edmund Rice Community & Refugee Services Homework Club in St Albans. As much as I really enjoy working with them in this capacity, and feel that it serves an important purpose, it does have its limitations when it comes to connecting with them as people. That’s one thing I loved about this camp; without all the roles and expectations of HC, I was able to get to know many of the students and parents in a way that was previously inaccessible to me. I felt like it was largely on their terms too, which made a difference.

I am astounded by the power of camps in forging friendships in a short amount of time. Virtually overnight, my buddies became friends and I saw a completely different side to them. One young lad, I would never have thought him the singing type, was sitting in the front seat of my bus and actually leading the songs. He is always so quiet at HC, phenomenal.

On another occasion, I was honoured to be a part of the Eddie Rice Cool Kids performance on the last night, where I played a hip hop beat on the drums whilst the brave ‘cool kids’ set an example and rapped for the whole camp. Quel courage!

A funny thing happened when I got back to work and saw some of the kids for the first time. I found that my interactions with them, or more accurately, their interactions with me, had returned largely to how they were pre-camp. I was slightly upset at first, and didn’t quite understand. The connection was there, I could see it in their eyes, but they were withdrawn, distant somehow. It was a couple of days before a possible explanation popped into my head, and it hit me like a tonne of bricks; the connection was there, but the space for its expression wasn’t.

HC is a very supportive environment, but as it has a ‘learning support’ focus, and is only open a few hours a week, it is also a very structured one. From my perspective, camp offered the participants the time & flexibility needed to really develop relationships with others and the leaders helped cultivate an environment where everyone was accepted for who they were. Everyone had the opportunity to step up and be extraordinary if they wanted to, and believe me they did.

After five days with our new friends, I certainly left with a big smile, droopy eyes and a heart brimming with love for life.  I’ll definitely be back on deck for Easter Camp next year.