Ever since I first heard of Camp Kulin back in 2013 I knew that one day I would love to volunteer there as a camp counsellor.
If you haven’t heard of Camp Kulin before, Camp Kulin, located in… Kulin(!) is quickly gaining national and international recognition for its innovative program, the first of its kind (that they are aware of) for a local government in Australia. Managed by Tanya Dupagne, a leader in her field, Camp Kulin runs a range of highly sought after camps for children living in the Wheatbelt, general camps open to any child in WA, scholarship camps for children affected by childhood trauma, corporate programming, school excursions and school camps.
I attended a camp last week which catered for 31 children from all over regional Western Australia and aged between 8 and 12. There were kids from Kwinana, Busselton, Esperence, Narrogin and everywhere in between! I was also fortunate enough to work alongside a group of 14 amazing camp counsellors, some volunteering for their first time, like me, and others, like Tanya, who were a lot more experienced!
As a regular camp counsellor, I was responsible for a group of students. My group was a group of six 8-year old girls, who were all very cute! Since my group was quite big, I shared the leader responsibilities with another camp counsellor. This was also handy since we were both new and had someone else to bounce ideas off etc.
Basically, we were responsible for our groups at most times during the camp. This meant ensuring they all travelled safely to and from the hostel and rec centre, eating meals with them and making sure they showered, brushed their teeth and were ready for bed.
Not all activities were done in the same groups though. Lots of activities, including the evening activities, were done as a big group. For others, such as Frisbee Golf, My Kitchen Rules and orienteering, we were divided into small groups with other kids. It was great to get to know other kids too, outside of the ones in my group.
As a camp counsellor, we were responsible for leading the activities and making sure everything was running smoothly, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t participate too! In fact it was important that we did join in on the fun, which included playing games and sitting down on the floor when listening to Tanya, since it encouraged the kids to do the same.
Some other general responsibilities included helping with the dishes, taking photos and helping to set up activities.
It was definitely a full on week with very little down time! The time we did have away from the kids was after 8/8.30 at night, when they went to bed. Normally though we were incredibly tired by this point and the couple of hours before our bedtime was spent writing “warm fuzzies” to the campers and camp counsellors.
I honestly had such a fun week though, getting to know everyone and seeing the campers gain confidence during the week. I remember the first day I met my group they were all very quiet and needed a lot of prompting to talk. By the end, it was near impossible to get them to be quiet!
Lots of the activities were based on teaching teamwork, cooperation, trust and respect and it was great to see the campers learn these skills.
I loved every minute of the week, but some highlights would be frisbee golf, capture the flag, skunk, Quiz Night Tanya Style and roll-a-reindeer (yes, we had Christmas in July on one day!) These activities will probably mean nothing to you at the moment, but after spending time at Camp Kulin, they will quickly become a part of your vocabulary!
I highly recommend to anyone who loves kids and wants to help make a difference (and have heaps of fun at the same time), to become a camp counsellor at Camp Kulin. I know that I will definitely be going back (hopefully in January). I already miss all of the campers and camp counsellors so much! Thanks again to Tanya and the rest of the Camp Kulin team for making these camps possible. It’s not only the campers that gain something from them!
If you would like more information on Camp Kulin or volunteering to become a camp counsellor, click here.