Working together couldn’t be more evident than through a recent Indigenous Kids Camp with Eddie Rice Camps Victoria in April this year.
With a group of 16 children in attendance, volunteers were told that for some of these children, other programs wouldn’t take them because of their challenging behaviour. Yet here were 16 children with their volunteer buddies enjoying and relishing the experience of an Edmund Rice Camp. Engaging, having fun and being kids.
A participant, who resides in residential care and had previously attended ERC programs, reconnected with her volunteer buddies and ‘Eddie Rice family’ and returned to a place where she felt connected and a sense of belonging with a community of people who have known her over time. This is something she held dear given that her life has consisted of moving throughout various placements with different caregivers.
During the Camp, she showed real pride in her culture, showed she felt safe and comfortable around the volunteers and didn’t want to leave. She felt safe being herself and knew she was accepted despite some of the behaviour she showed. By having her back, ERC have demonstrated that this is a community that cares about her, something she hadn’t experienced much within her world.
Many of the volunteers came to the April camp with only a small understanding of indigenous history and culture, but through the relationships formed, stories shared and nightly reflections, they left with a much deeper and heartfelt understanding of the experiences of Australia’s indigenous people and that working together creates a real future for young people.