30 January 2010

ChIPS Camp

So as I mentioned last week, I went to camp as a volunteer staff member for three days.

The camp was organised and run by members and staff of the Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) program, part of the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

It held on a large recreation campsite - the campsite featured high ropes, a giant swing, a dam, dart shooting, a swimming pool, and a number of dormitory houses.

Our group comprised 47 people - around 13 staff members and the rest Chippers.

It always amazes me that these extensively planned and smoothly run camps are organised and led by the Chippers themselves. The Chippers are between 12 and 25 years of age, and to plan and lead a camp as a young person in Chips is fantastic - I congratulate everyone involved.

We were placed into teams and partook in challenge by choice activities (raft building and racing, high ropes and giant swing), and did crafts, and had many activities to get to know everyone better. As mentioned in a previous blog post, there was a dress up party - a lot of fun!

There were some truly inspiring and emotional moments at camp - I'll remember these forever. I will also cherish the relationships I built on camp and throughout my ChIPS involvement and beyond. Everyone involved in ChIPS is amazing. And the friendships built are strong and long lasting, and empathetic.

I love seeing these young people develop and challenge themselves through physical an interpersonal activities, but above all, I love seeing them come out of their shell and be themselves in such a nurturing environment.

I challenged myself by going on the giant swing. The harness gave me the biggest wedgie ever. Front wedgie mind you. It hurt so so much. Hurt my skin like you wouldn't believe, but the rush of the drop from the (near) top of the giant swing made it worth it.

Here is a picture of me going up the ladder to be hoisted into the air on the giant swing.

And here is one of me wearing my end of camp medal on (the picture has been edited - the whole picture features my fantastic Fake Tan team members).

ChIPS is such a huge part of my life, and though I wasn't involved with it as a young person when I needed the support the most, I am so glad I've found it now, and I can help these wonderful young people.

At the end of the camp we receive books called 'warm fuzzies' - where everyone on camp can write a messages to each other. I treasure my warm fuzzies - to have someone tell me how I made a difference to them means the world to me.

PS - in case you are wondering what that orange thing is on me in both photos - it is my personal mascot to identify me with my team - team Fake Tan (orange) - I created a Gossip Girl like bow headband out of some orange material, some glittery material, a button and a safety pin - very Blair Warldorf - but it got too floppy in my face so I turned it into a Carrie Bradshaw like brooch.


  1. what a rewarding experience carly, well done!

  2. Thanks Mez!
    I encourage everyone to volunteer at something.

  3. Sounds like such an awesome experience!! I'm not sure there's anything more rewarding than having someone tell you that you've made a difference x

  4. You're right Caf - it is a great feeling. I don't do it solely for my own gratification, and it can often be really hard work, but when someone tells me what I've done for them, it makes me so happy and proud.


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