Article by Miwa Chapman and Lauren Pondes
Last term, we were given the opportunity to sign up to go to camp for visually impaired children and teenagers. This camp was held at YMCA Camp Adair, Hunua Ranges from 11-13 May.
A small group of students from King’s, Dilworth College and Diocesan School volunteered to be student buddies for the visually impaired people (VIPs). The VIPs were ranging in ages from nine to sixteen. From King’s College Miwa Chapman (Year 13, Middlemore), Lauren Pondes (Year 13, Middlemore), Angela Cheng (Year 13, Taylor), and Nari Apa (Year 13, Taylor) took part.
For us, it was a life-changing experience and gave us a new perspective on how visually impaired children can fulfil their dreams.
When we arrived at the campsite on Friday night, we were introduced to the VIPs and played some fun games to break the ice. The next morning, we had an early start with a full-day schedule ahead of us including archery, flying fox, taekwondo, a confidence course and a night full of entertainment.
During archery, it was amazing to watch teenagers with complete loss of vision get a huge thrill from hitting a target. Another highlight of the day was helping the VIPs climb a twenty-metre wooden pole to get to the top and watch them have the time of their life on the long flying fox. For some, this was the scariest challenge of their life. But in the end, they felt impowered by the whole experience.
In the afternoon, we dove headfirst into a pile of mud during the confidence course. Many of the small activities were challenging not only for the VIPs, but also for the student buddies. We all worked together as a team to conquer the obstacles and it was great to see so many of the younger, enthusiastic VIPs getting super involved. Most of the student buddies found this to be their favourite part about the camp.
After dinner, we participated in a talent night where all of us got to show off our various skills as well as learning how to do the waltz and do the can-can. One of the younger VIPs told some hilarious jokes and the confidence he gained throughout the camp really showed.
On Sunday, the student buddies hosted a quiz and all the participants received a large chocolate bar! This was a fun event for everyone as this was our last day together.
Our next destination was Miranda Hot Springs. We all had a really nice end to the trip and it was so sad to have to say goodbye to our new friends. We hope that we made a positive impact on the VIP’s lives, as they did to us.