Camp changes young lives

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY SARAH SCULLY

The de­vel­oper of a youth life change pro­gram in the Grampians be­lieves a suc­cess­ful pi­lot camp has re­in­forced the need for short-term in­ten­sive pro­grams in the re­gion.

For­mer al­co­hol and other drug coun­sel­lor Bren­dan Scale said the holis­tic Wilder­ness Sur­vival Ad­ven­ture Pro­gram aimed to equip strug­gling youth with per­sonal skills and tools to man­age life more ef­fec­tively.

The pro­gram was cre­ated by his fam­ily’s not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Del­huntie Youth Care.

Mr Scale adapted the pro­gram for the Grampians and was thrilled with the re­sult.

“It did con­firm for me what our ser­vice has known for a long time, there is a big need for short-term, in­tense pro­grams,” he said.

“Af­ter our five-day camp, one com­ment I made to par­ents when we dropped the kids off on the Fri­day was, pre­pare for your kid to be dif­fer­ent now. One mum said straight away, ‘I can see he’s dif­fer­ent al­ready’.

“So they can see, okay, young Johnny is still go­ing to have his is­sues in life, but that one week has helped them re­set where he is go­ing and what his pri­or­i­ties are.”

The pro­gram is for young peo­ple aged 12 to 20 and is de­signed to help par­tic­i­pants un­cover their pain, hurt and frus­tra­tions and learn ways to deal with them con­struc­tively.

Hor­sham’s Leon Loft­house, 19, was one of 16 par­tic­i­pants of the Grampians WASP ex­pe­ri­ence.

Leon said it was amaz­ing to see peo­ple come such a long way in such a short pe­riod of time.

He said he was ap­pre­hen­sive about at­tend­ing the camp, how­ever, he quickly formed a bond with his fel­low par­tic­i­pants.

“Tak­ing the time to get to know them and talk to them helped build trust,” he said.

“I learnt that it’s im­por­tant to get to know peo­ple and not just treat­ing them by the way they look – not judg­ing a book by its cover.”

Ad­ven­ture ther­apy

The camp is based on ad­ven­ture ther­apy and in­cluded hik­ing, trust-build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and chal­lenges to push par­tic­i­pants out­side their com­fort zone.

An early ac­tiv­ity in­volved climb­ing the Pin­na­cle from Halls Gap.

“We walked about 10 kilo­me­tres,” Leon said.

“At first I didn’t want to do it. I kept stop­ping and go­ing again. Then, it was mind over mat­ter. I kept telling my­self I could do it. I’d never been to the top be­fore. The view was great.”

Leon said par­tic­i­pants also had to free jump from a tree wear­ing a har­ness.

“That was pretty scary – I’m scared of heights,” he said.

“I learnt that I could jump even though I was scared. I learnt I wasn’t go­ing to die.”

A key part of the pro­gram is a ‘hurts’ ses­sion, en­abling the young peo­ple to share their sto­ries.

“Fun is the ve­hi­cle for the week, but un­der­neath there is very much a ther­a­peu­tic process,” Mr Scale said.

“The hurts ses­sion was hard. Peo­ple like Leon and three or four oth­ers had pretty much never told their story to any­one be­fore. It took so much courage to share just how shat­tered their lives had been.

“One kid had a dad who had been abus­ing him. His dad died and he was re­lieved to put it to rest.

“An­other was on the run from fam­ily vi­o­lence for many years. “It’s huge emo­tional stuff.” At the end of the ses­sion, par­tic­i­pants re­lease their anger by smash­ing an old car.

“Right­fully so, the kids are an­gry all this stuff has hap­pened to them,” Mr Scale said.

“Thank­fully wreck­ers do­nated a car to give the kids an op­por­tu­nity to ex­press them­selves and what has hap­pened to them.”

Leon said he en­cour­aged other young peo­ple to at­tend fu­ture camps.

“It’s amaz­ing how much peo­ple ac­tu­ally do change in just five days,” he said.

“I didn’t even want to go on it and then I changed my mind – and I’m glad I did. It’s helped me out heaps, with my anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion and things like that.”

Mr Scale thanked Drew Heard for do­nat­ing a bus for the pro­gram.

“Thanks also to the com­mu­nity mem­bers who do­nated money to­wards it, be­cause that en­abled six kids to come who wouldn’t have been able to come oth­er­wise,” he said.

Mr Scale said he hoped to run an­other WASP camp next year.

“It looks like there’s enough de­mand,” he said.

“Fund­ing will be the big is­sue. If any com­mu­nity mem­bers want to do­nate they are wel­come to get in touch with me.”

Peo­ple can call Mr Scale on 0448 816 695 or email del­huntie01@ to in­quire about the camp or be­com­ing a spon­sor.

Peo­ple can also search www.del­ for more in­for­ma­tion. Ararat and Stawell Archers has a new de­fib­ril­la­tor and train­ing pack­age from the State Gov­ern­ment to help it deal with emer­gen­cies.

Mem­ber for Western Vic­to­ria Jaala Pul­ford said the club would re­ceive the pack­age from a De­fib­ril­la­tors for Sport­ing Clubs and Fa­cil­i­ties Pro­gram.

THER­A­PEU­TIC: Par­tic­i­pants in a Wilder­ness Sur­vival Ad­ven­ture Pro­gram at Halls Gap used ad­ven­ture-based ther­apy as part of a ground­break­ing life change pro­gram.

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