Our SONY Camp Experience
In December 2018, 13 Year 11 students and one Year 12 student from St Catherine’s School joined the Year 12 graduates of Scotch College to volunteer as companions for the Children’s Holiday Camp sponsored by the SONY Foundation.
The camp consisted of two training days prior to the camp to allow the companions to understand the role of responsibility that we were stepping into as the carers of these young children who suffered from a range of disabilities. It was on these training days where each companion was partnered up with another student from their respective school to learn more about their camper for the following weekend and to be provided with some insight into how to best manage our campers. We were responsible for our campers 24 hours a day for the duration of the camp.
The camp consisted of three days and two nights, where the girls stayed in the Boarding House, and the boys in McMeckan House on the premises of Scotch College. Our days were packed full of fun and joyful activities for ourselves and our camper such as art, music, swimming, a jumping castle on each day of the camp, electrical animal rides, and on the last day of camp, a petting zoo and a train ride around the premises of Scotch College.
Even though our time together did have to eventually end, every time we think back to those handful of days in December we cannot help but to smile. We never considered fully how much work raising children, let alone children with special needs is and it was amazing how grateful the families were when they came to collect their children. We would encourage as many girls to become involved with volunteering as a companion for the SONY Camp when given the opportunity as we have learnt and grown as people and have forged stronger friendships with the fellow companions who were with us for the weekend. It was truly a worthwhile experience.
Reflection from Heidi Tokatlidis (Year 12)
My camper enjoyed every activity that was offered over the duration of the camp and my partner, Lucy Gray and I are happy to say that this experience and seeing the smile on our camper’s face is something we will never forget. The highlight of the camp for me was being able to speak to my camper’s mother on the last day at our ‘Christmas lunch.’ My camper’s family was able to take her twin sister out to the movies and out for dinner for the first time in many years as their everyday life is full of activities. I was so glad we were able to provide my camper’s family with a weekend where they were able to rest and complete tasks they may not be able to do very often. There were a few challenges that arose throughout the duration of the camp, however, it was overall one of the experiences in my life which will never be forgotten as we as ‘companions’ were able to make new friends, and learn about the many ways to engage with children from ages six to 13 years of age.
Reflection from Verity Pascarl (Year 12)
There is no way in which I could describe my SONY Camp experience which would adequately capture how amazing and worthwhile those three days and two nights were. My camper was the second youngest of the children and initially seemed even smaller because of how soft-spoken and shy she was. What was so special to me and my buddy, Olivia Soong Zi Yuan, was the change which we saw in all the campers, but particularly ours. Her quiet voice whispering requests every so often grew to a confident chatter and the dummy she sometimes used for comfort remained safely stored in her soft toy seahorse. One morning in particular, our youngest camper, who had been very reserved and had not interacted with any of the other children, suddenly got up and started dancing to ‘Gangnam Style’ by PSY. It was such a wonderful moment as other children joined in, having the time of their lives, and all of us companions forgot about breakfast to observe or partake. I will never forget following my camper’s wacky dance moves and her giggles of utter joy.