Odyssey House Youth & Family Services received funding from the Pierce Armstrong Foundation, Mantana Foundation, and Vincent Chiodo Charitable Foundation to run two youth camps over a twelve-month period.
The Odyssey Youth Camp Program provides opportunities for young people ‘at risk’ and “disengaged” to attend a three day camp on Phillip Island. The Odyssey Youth Team partnered with Melton Secondary College, who identified 30 students to attend the most recent camp.
“I think this camp was a fantastic idea. Not many people get the chance to get away to live a bit, relax with no pressure, which is what I feel is needed during this time”.
The Odyssey Youth Camp Program included activities which promoted positive social interaction between young people and physical activity, including an ecological tour, an adventure park, penguin parade, rock climbing, farm visits, and many other activities. Students planned the program, including common goals and expectations, budgeting, and cooking. This student led initiative, which included workshopping common goals and expectations, allowed students ownership of the project, and encouraged these young people to learn personal responsibility through the consequences of actions.
“Going on this camp was a great escape from the anxiety and monotony that life can provide, meeting others at this camp that I wouldn’t normally talk too was a cool thing … here I can have a break from expectations and judgments because the other people here are here for the same or similar reasons”.
On the first day, students were welcomed by the smell of sausage rolls and pies, after a brief induction, settling in and lunch, they were off to the first activity at Clip and Climb. This was a good opportunity for students to confront their fear of heights and challenge themselves. With the guidance of safety instructors, Clip and Climb was engaging, challenging and fun for everyone and Odyssey youth staff and students were encouraged and motivated to support each other.
Waking up to the symphony of birds, the group started the second day at the Koala Sanctuary where students got up close to some sleepy koalas. The students explored the sanctuary at their own pace, searching the treetops and discovering native flora and fauna along the way. Koalas sleep for around 20 hours a day (fun fact), so they were lucky to see a few of them climbing and searching for that perfect spot to settle down for a nap.
The group then headed to Amaze and Things theme park, where the students entered a maze of wonders and puzzles. Each student had the opportunity to go through the maze and solve their way out. This was a good opportunity for students to work with each other and use their problem-solving skills to solve the puzzles together.
The last two activities for the day were the Antarctic Journey and Penguin Parade. The Antarctic journey was an opportunity for the students to get a better understanding of Antarctica and its wildlife. It was also a very engaging way of looking at complex issues and the impact of global warming, unethical fishing practices and water pollution on the world.
The penguin parade was the final activity of this exciting day with the students having the opportunity, despite the slight drizzle, to watch the penguins as they arrived back to shore. It was a wonderful way to end the day of exploring Phillip Island.
The Phillip Island camp was a great way for the students to connect with nature, native wildlife and marine life especially after the strict travel restrictions and disruptions of 2020.
The last day was filled with farewells and finishing off the camp with a trip to Churchill Island. This was an immersive experience of an olden day working farm/homestead where students had a chance to explore, learn and reconnect the dots of colonial settlement in the area. They also saw a live blacksmith demonstration and fed some farm animals.
The students enjoyed a fun opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other and nature, through actively engaging in activities and being present in the moment. In between all of the activities, the Odyssey House staff provided support and guidance to participants to reflect on their experiences and connect them to their values and aspirations.
With years of experience of running camps, the Odyssey Camp Program staff, see this as one of the best they have run and greatly look forward to future camps. In the words of a client,
“…thanks for the effort of everyone involved, this was a real treat!”