Last weekend, (6-8 April 2018) 21 Kookaburra Kids and eight volunteers converged on Canberra for our very first ACT Kookaburra camp. The camp was for high school children who travelled from Canberra and the surrounding areas for a weekend of fun, respite and education.

This was the first camp for all 21 kids so there was plenty of excitement on the Friday night. The craft activity provided a perfect way to break the ice and get to know one another and this was followed by some relaxing yoga run by our very own Volunteer Coordinator Sally. Feeling relaxed, the brand-new Kookaburra Kids went to bed ready for a big day of activities on Saturday.

Saturday began with breakfast and chat group, a vital part of all Kookaburra Kids camps. Chat group offers an opportunity for children to learn about mental health issues in a safe environment where they are free to ask questions and learn from each other. This social connection is a vital part of the Kookaburra Kids program, where children can interact and play without the stigma that often goes along with mental illness.

Chat group was followed by a series of fun activities including team problem solving, a giant water fight and then cooking damper and marshmallows on the fire. Our campfire session included our very own Kookaburra concert, with music from our amazing volunteers, Geoff and Hope, who brought along their guitars and led some singalongs of classic pop hits like Ed Sheeran and Vance Joy! We are so lucky to have such talented and generous volunteers!

As the day progressed, and fun was had, it was great to see friendships forming as people became more and more comfortable with one another. Saturday wrapped up with dinner and a movie with popcorn.

Sunday began with another round of Chat Group, focussing on building resilience and coping skills. This was followed fun circus activities before it was time for lunch.

After lunch there was enough time for the Kookaburra Kids to be treated to some kind gifts that were sourced by our dynamo of a volunteer, Glynis! Glynis made the trip down from Sydney to hand deliver the gifts to each child. After everyone received their gift it was time for all the kids and volunteers to gather together to watch the end of camp slideshow – the perfect chance for everyone to relive all the Kookaburra fun!

The camp was a fantastic weekend and a great start to our Kookaburra program in the ACT – supporting children (8-18yrs) living in families affected by mental illness.

We look forward to continuing to offer this free service to kids in the ACT and surrounds.