On Thursday 16 December, St Andrew’s students welcomed a group of children with disability for the annual Sony Foundation St Andrew’s College Children’s Camp (SSACCC). The four-day program for 22 young ‘campers’ forges new friendships and memories, and allows parents to prepare for the holiday season and enjoy a much deserved respite.
Over the course of the camp, the student companions, helpers and organisers, along with volunteer doctors and nurses, provide 24-hour care to the children. More than 50 students are volunteering a week of their vacation to train and work at the camp. Volunteers were selected by the SSACCC committee from over 100 applicants from St Andrew’s College and all the University of Sydney colleges. The organising committee, led by student Laura Grant, consists of students from St Andrew’s College as well as a representative from Women’s College and one from St Paul’s.
The camp’s fun activities, which have been impacted this year by COVID restrictions, are entirely organised by the students, and include sports and art sessions, bouncy castles, slippery dips, animal visits and much more. Additional rooms are set up for sensory play and quiet play if campers need a break. The children, aged from 4 to 13 years, come from Sydney and across the state. Each child is assigned a companion to remain by their side at all times. Volunteers are divided into four groups, easily identified by their coloured t-shirts. Companions wear blue, helpers wear green, committee members wear pink and the media team wears red. The children wear yellow.
Volunteers arrived two days earlier than the campers to receive essential training and make sure everything was in place for the arrival of the young visitors. Earlier this year, the students held a well-supported social trivia night to raise additional funds for the camp. Laura Grant and Tom Constable from the organising committee, said: “We’re so excited about welcoming our campers while their parents get some well-deserved respite before the holiday season. Our companions, helpers, media team and committee have been busy this week organising and setting up our fun, jam-packed activities schedule for the campers!”
The Sony Foundation St Andrew’s College Children’s Camp is an annual program run entirely by student volunteers, and 2021 marks its 10th year. COVID-19 derailed plans for the camp in 2020, and this year the SSACCC is one of the few camps able to go ahead. If you would like to help in any capacity for next year’s Camp, whether through donations or medical team support, please get in touch with the College.