Reported by Fiona Hawkless at RichmondPRA Goulburn
During a meeting held at RichmondPRA Goulburn, the people we support told us that they’d like to have a proper holiday. With thanks to some generous funding provided by Kenmore Hospital for Mental Health Month, we were able to host an adventurous trip to Stanwell Tops both for the people we support and some of the staff. For many people, this was the first long-distance holiday they’d ever had. For some, coming along was a big leap of faith, and we’re proud of their courage.
Our accommodation at Stanwell Tops was a large five-bedroom house with a huge combined communal area. We immediately set up in our rooms upon arrival and then headed to the dining room for a tasty feast. It was just the first of many yummy meals we had. I have to say that sleeping in bunk beds as an adult was quite an experience, as climbing up and down is much more fun when you’re a kid. Despite this, our sleeping arrangements worked out well.
Throughout the trip, we all spoke about our experiences and what it meant to us to be on a holiday. Some of the people we support had plenty of great stuff to say.
“I haven’t been pre-occupied by my thoughts.”
“I’ve never been on a holiday, let alone in a situation like this.”
“I haven’t felt claustrophobic the whole time.”
“It’s been really good to have the RichmondPRA staff to support us, as they really care about us, and the staff really hear what I say.”
Many of the people we support had never had a trip away from home before
We had free reign of the local tennis courts, and we were constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery such as ocean views and the many species of native birds that brighten the area. We also had a massive range of formal activities to keep us occupied, like archery and bush walking. Speaking of archery, some of us were skilled (or maybe just lucky) enough to shoot a bull’s-eye! Others had trouble just hitting the target, however. In order to keep things interesting, the difficulty level was increased when we had to shoot balloons. A few lucky campers were able to achieve that impressive mark. For most, though, it wasn’t about how skilled they were, but how much fun they had. By the end of this activity, everyone had hit the target at least once.
One person said of the archery: “I went into the activity feeling nervous, but when I finished it I felt exhilarated that I’d gotten better at it.” Another said: “Even if you’re not good at it, it’s still fun.”
Their next challenge after the fun with bows and arrows was the Survivor Ropes Course, which is a gruelling obstacle course. We all worked hard, played hard, and made it through.
“I thought I couldn’t do it, but I did it!” one excited person exclaimed afterwards.
Visiting the beach is always fun, and the ocean was truly amazing. We enjoyed a lovely beach walk and even got to see some hang gliders. Unfortunately, when we returned to our car we found that the battery had gone flat. Thankfully, the lovely people at The Tops conference centre are prepared for all eventualities, and they were able to lend us a set of jump leads so we could get back to our cottage.
Our entire stay at Stanwell Tops was very enjoyable and we are all hoping to source some more funding so we can take the people we assist to go camping again. New bonds were formed between the holiday makers, bonds that we’ve taken home with us and which have continued to grow.
A few final thoughts from happy campers:
“I’ve really enjoyed camp. My family says it’s been wonderful and I think it has helped them to stop worrying about me.”
“I’ve been out of my comfort zone. Two days of non-stop activity.”
“It’s given me a chance to learn some new leadership skills. I feel I have some leadership skills behind me now.”
“We should do this again somewhere else. Somewhere we can have a spa…”