"Making Change" Leaders Camp - Reflections of a Kool Kids worker

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It all began late on a Friday afternoon. I drove around the eastern suburbs of Sydney picking up all the crew. Although the weather forecast was looking unpredictable, all the boys were really excited to be reunited and finally going away together.

The trip began with a pit stop at Mascot were we had some delicious Japanese for dinner, many of the boys using chopsticks and trying wasabi for the first time.

We arrived at Berrima around 8:30pm Friday night where we met Wade, someone who would become a new life long friend of the boys and myself.

We loaded all our bags and equipment into the 4WD’s and began the adventure driving down the bumpy roads. After about 30 minutes we reached our destination, after passing a bunch of deer, kangaroos and a big old wombat that stuck his head out to welcome us.

We got ourselves set up in the cabins, had a small snack and watched Karl work his magic as he got a fire going although most of the wood was wet. We had a chat for a bit and called it a night.

Saturday we woke up and got straight into it. We went down to the flying fox and all the boys had a blast soaring down. From there we went back up to camp, had a snack, packed lunch and walked down to the river to go canoeing.

Canoeing was one of my main highlights of the trip, working together in teams of two to navigate through small rapids, around trees that had fallen into the river, while seeing plenty of water dragons. We had to work as a team to manoeuver through difficult parts of the river, and we all had a laugh watching everyone except Wade capsize at least twice.

That afternoon we had a big feed and tried to have a couple of hours rest. Saturday night Wade (who had let me know quietly he was also a chef!) cooked delicious pasta carbonara, which the boys devoured. We sat around the campfire for hours talking about life, the youth of Australia and the problems they face, struggles and triumphs in life, the future and the changes they want to help make. This was one of the most incredible discussions I had been in for a long time, and to say I was inspired by the boys and proud of the young men they have become would be an understatement.

Sunday we all had a well deserved sleep in and then went abseiling. The drive up the mountains on the rocky terrain was awesome, and we even saw a bunch of emus come over to say hello. We went back, packed up, said our farewells to Wade and began the journey back to Sydney.

On behalf of the boys and myself, I wanted to say a special thanks to Wade, Matt and the whole team at O.E.G for all the effort everyone put in to make that trip happen. That trip was life changing for us all, and the boys couldn’t stop talking about it all the way home and were already saying they want to come back again next year.

When I asked one of the boys what they enjoyed most, he said, “Every second of it, I wished it went for longer.” Some loved the abseiling, some loved the canoeing, everyone loved the talk around the fire and everyone was blown away by the generosity of everyone who worked together to make the trip happen.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to Lucy Butler the incredible team leader of Kool Kids Club for all the hard work she put in behind the scenes to make this camp happen and supporting it the whole way! You’re a champion.

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