Breaking down barriers for Disabled Youth
Over the second weekend of September, 40 guests, carers and volunteers came for a three-day Order of Malta Camp for Disabled Youth at Camp Manyung, Mount Eliza in Victoria,
The Order of Malta Camps welcome guests aged 18 – 35 years old, with either a physical or mental disability. The activities are designed to challenge our guests, physically, emotionally and intellectually, in a safe, supportive and fun environment. Whilst it can be daunting for first time attendees, after participating in a camp they are often eager to attend more – not only for the activities on offer – but the friendships that they make with fellow guests and volunteers.
At the Mount Eliza camp, our guests included some familiar faces from our previous camps and five first time attendees, all of whom were warmly welcomed by our volunteers. Activities included a giant swing, archery and frisbee golf, as well as daily Masses with our Spiritual Director Fr Paul Nulley and social activities, including the popular camp disco and a campfire evening.
One guest Vicky, who danced the night away at our disco commented that ‘’it was the best night [she has had] in a long time”. Returning guest Matthew and newcomer Andrew have both already enquired about when and where our next camp will be as they are eager to return, and they are hopeful that they will see their new friends, guests and volunteers, there.
Whilst the focus of the camps is our guests, our youth volunteers play key roles in planning and running the camps, as they often get as much from the experience as those they are supporting. Camp organiser and volunteer, Anna Sammut, who has also volunteered at Order of Malta Youth Camps overseas explains “Volunteering and organising the Youth Camps is such a rewarding experience for me. It allows me to bring together young people from different walks of life and from different parts of Australia for a weekend full of laughter, joy and happiness. I get to see first-hand how thankful the guests are to attend and the new skills they learn whilst attending the camp. I know that I have done my job well when our guests leave the camp with lifelong memories and friendships.”
The Order of Malta would like to continue this project with two further camps in 2023, however this is only if funding for the initiative can be secured. Each camp costs approximately $30,000 and covers the activities, food and accommodation for our guests.