Four Days Spent with Some Very Happy Campers
The first week of December saw exams finish and rooms being vacated, but for 30 Androvians, with 12 fellow students from Paul’s, Women’s and John’s, it also brought the very rewarding experience that is the Sony Foundation Children’s Camp. The four-day program, for 20 ‘campers’ with physical and intellectual disabilities, forged new friendships and memories, and also allowed their parents some much deserved respite before the holiday season.
After two days of training and decking the halls with colour fit for kids, we welcomed the campers on Thursday 5 December with a jumping castle and pool, ball games on the tennis courts and golf buggies on the oval, all to a well-loved Disney musical soundtrack. The afternoon brought with it a petting zoo with baby goats and guinea pigs, as well as the highest calibre indoor cricket the College has seen in all 152 years. Once the kids had settled in, we ate dinner, and washed it down with some karaoke – Lizzo and Lady Gaga included.
Never ones to muck around, Day 2 saw the kids and volunteers up as early as 4:50am and snuggling up with crocodiles, lizards and spiders by 9:00am. Once the reptiles had all been safely returned, we sang Happy Birthday and shared chocolate cake with one of our campers turning 8, before banging out some rhythms on the drums and congas until lunch. In the afternoon, we headed out to Cook and Phillip Pool. This is always a special excursion, when many of our campers who struggle with mobility on land come to life with the buoyancy of water. After an exhausting but happy couple of hours at the pool, our campers collapsed for some quiet time, in preparation for the Saturday Night Disco! We sung and we boogied and then, by 9:00pm, all were asleep despite the call of the Highlander dance floor.
Saturday was all about our second excursion – sailing down at Rushcutters Bay. Blessed with a relatively cool day, free of the smoke earlier in the week, all the kids and a couple of lucky companions sailed out to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Afterwards, spirits were lifted with a sugar rush at cookie decorating, before some of our engineering students put on quite the science show (turns out heating the Coke before putting in the Mentos does indeed result in a higher explosion!!). By this point, all were quite exhausted and collapsed onto the couches in front of Shrek, very ready to see Mum and Dad the following day.
And then it was Sunday. We wrote letters to Santa, before welcoming the kids’ families to a Christmas lunch. We caught up with families, reflected on the week and the kids enjoyed presents from Santa and watched our wrap-up video of the camp. Then there were teary good byes, and some ‘See You Soon’s’, as a number of the wonderful volunteers were asked to continue to care for kids casually throughout the year!
All in all, the four days were a great success, both eye-opening and hugely inspirational. Endless thank you’s to the 48 student volunteers on the camp, as well as the medical team of alumni, parents and friends who kept us all healthy. Additionally, a special mention to Kate Nicole, Lily Gherbaz (Women’s), Benjamin Adams, Suzie Glenday, Matt Hooke (Paul’s) and Harry Best who worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure everything went smoothly throughout the week.
If you would like to help in any capacity for next year’s Camp, be that donations or medical team support, please get in touch with the College. We look forward to welcoming back some very happy kids and companions this time next year.
- Adele Burke (fr 2018)