During 2018 CatholicCare staff were out and about in the indigenous community chatting with parents and children about what they believe our community needs for our youth. Through these conversations, we heard 100% of our community saying a holiday program was a must along with the need for our youth to connect to county and culture. CatholicCare responded to this community feedback through the rollout of our Which Way Pilot Camp as an expansion of the Whaddup Youth Group.
On the 15th Jan 2019, 30 Aboriginal youth aged from 10 – 17, along with 7 staff and volunteers, headed to QCCC Mapleton Triballink Outdoor Education Centre for a 3-day cultural and leadership camp.
The campers were split into a boys group and a girls group for the activities. This made them more comfortable to take on the challenges. They were brought together for meals and to reflect together on the day.
With an action-packed program, the youth learned about their own limits, made their own choices about the difficulty level of each activity and gave support and encouragement to each other.
Our first morning started with our Triballink Guide explaining the cultural use and meaning of ochres for body painting. Everyone enjoyed having symbols painted on their face with cool, smooth, white ochre paste.
We then went foraging in the forest for bush foods and medicines ending with an afternoon gathering of conversation as the young people prepared Bunya nuts and Lemon Myrtle tea on the campfire sitting under the shade of the rainforest.
With all campers gathering in the evening we headed for the Triballink Centre to hear some of the local dreaming stories. Kerry from Triballink encouraged each camper to share their nation and totem with the group and then he shared stories he had heard from his grandmother.
Over the three-day period, to capture the experience of the camp, each child had their own individual visual diary. At the end of each day, photos were printed for the kids to add to their diary. Each night after dinner, campers would come together in our lounge room to debrief and share their thoughts on their daily activities.
Here’s what some of the kids had to say:
- “I liked learning more about the land and what it can provide.”
- “I felt a bit better that I know a bit more about my culture.”
- “I felt like I’ll never forget this memory.”
- “I feel really good about coming on this camp because I learnt a lot of things I didn’t know before”
- “I felt this was an awesome experience”
- “I liked everything about this camp especially pool time”
They were also asked to say “what I loved most”:
- “The whole trip”
- “I loved meeting new people”
- “I liked the giant swing the most”
- “Bushwalk and pool”
and “what I’d like to see or do next time”:
- “more cultural activities”
- “challenging activities”
- “to learn how to do more cultural dancing and to try more traditional foods”
- “more canoeing”
- “more eating and learning about bush tucker and storytelling”
After reviewing the comments from the campers, it is clear that CatholicCare was able to meet the Aboriginal community expectations of connecting our Indigenous youth to country, culture and each other.
It was so rewarding for our staff and volunteers to see how the youth responded to the knowledge and challenges offered by the team.
CatholicCare sincerely thanks our volunteers, and the staff of QCCC Mapleton Camp and Triballink Centre, for their time and patience with us during our first camp. See you next year in 2020!