Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
Future2 grant recipient, Camp Kulin is positively turning the lives around for young people affected by trauma situations.
Growing up on a farm as the youngest of four boys, Michael Pyne learnt quickly about the value of a small community pulling together in support of each other. The power of community is something he has never forgotten.
“Tanya works in my home town where I grew up prior to moving to the city for university and work,” he says. “The local community is very supportive of the work that Camp Kulin does, which is a testament to its success. The organisation does great work supporting children who have been affected by childhood trauma. By providing camps for regional children, it provides them with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have,” Michael says.
“So, having previously participated in the Future2 Wheel Classic back in 2017, I knew the great work Camp Kulin was doing, making it ideal for a grant, which I was keen to support.”
Established in 2013 and located in the Western Australia wheat belt town of Kulin, approximately 283km south-east of Perth, Camp Kulin works with over 1,500 young people in Western Australia each year. These children have been affected by a range of trauma situations, including individuals bereaved by suicide, those who have suffered mistreatment in overseas refugee camps, and those affected by mental health issues, domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
“We teach life skills, such as leadership, respect, trust, self-confidence, self-esteem, anger management, problem-solving and communication. This is done in a way that is fun, so the campers don’t realise they are learning,” says Tanya.
“This results in a better outlook on life for our program participants, including increased confidence and ambition, improved self-esteem and better behaviour.”
In its relatively short life, the Camp Kulin program has been recognised as one of the top in Australia, having won a number of prestigious awards, which was capped off with Tanya being named the Western Australia and Australian Rural Woman of the Year for her work done at Camp Kulin.
According to Michael, Tanya has an outstanding profile and is running a much needed program for children at risk.
“Tanya’s Future2 application outlined the outstanding work she does with her team, which has been independently recognised by a number of different organisations,” he says.
And the Future2 grants committee agreed, awarding Camp Kulin with a $10,000 grant.
Camp Kulin Teen Leadership Program
While Camp Kulin primarily works with children aged 8-12 years, over the past few years, the organisation has added a teen program for young people aged 12-15 years.
The Future2 grant will go towards the Camp Kulin Teen Leadership Program, which not only teaches the same set of life skills that children receive at the kids’ camps, but also has a focus on the teens gaining extra leadership skills, so that once they turn 16, they can become volunteer camp counsellors themselves.
“Camp Kulin has now been running for six years and 90 per cent of our first group of 13-15 year olds on our first teen camp have now gone on to become camp counsellors when they are old enough,” Tanya says.
She adds: “The teen program provides the link for us to build ongoing contact with the campers from the time they finish the kids’ camps to the age they can become camp counsellors, and allows us to divert them from problem behaviour if necessary, while also reinforcing the skills they learnt through the kids’ camp program. We provide positive mentoring and role models for them to work with whilst at camp.”
The Future2 grant will provide the necessary funding to enable 25 teens affected by trauma to attend the Camp Kulin Teen Leadership Program.
Tanya says not only will the 25 teens attending the program benefit personally, but so will their families and schools. In fact, case workers of children attending Camp Kulin report their clients are easier to work with following their time at camp.
“But the long-term benefit will come when the young people become camp counsellors themselves, as they will positively impact the next generation of campers coming through the program,” Tanya says.
“If 90 per cent of the campers go on to become camp counsellors, as we’ve experienced previously, and all do one camp each as a volunteer, at least 828 younger children affected by trauma will also directly benefit.”
Dream Hope Believe
Tanya is grateful for the support of Michael and Future2, saying that the objectives of Future2 align well with those of Camp Kulin.
“Future2 helps young people who have had a tough start to life reach their potential, and that’s what Camp Kulin does, too,” she says. “We work with young people one-on-one to identify their skills and improve their confidence, so they can go on to make a difference to other young people, as well as being able to better handle difficult situations for themselves later in life.
“Our slogan is – Dream Hope Believe – because that is what we teach the campers to do, and our camp saying is: ‘One person may not be able to change the world, but they can change the world for one person.’ So, our aim is to make a difference to every young person who comes through the door.”
And to date, the results have been impressive, but do vary based on individual children. Essentially, according to Tanya, camp participants do not require as much support when they return home from Camp Kulin.
“We see children with low self-confidence being able to speak in front of people and joining groups; children with additional behavioural needs no longer getting suspended from school because they’ve learned how to cope with their anger; and many other changes,” she says.
“We have over 40 current volunteer camp counsellors who came through the program as children/teens and who are now back as volunteers. They’re back because the program had such a significant impact on them and they want to give back to the next group of kids coming through.”
For Tanya and her volunteers, working in a rural setting three hours south-east of Perth does make life a little harder, but Michael says the demand for the services of Camp Kulin continues to grow.
“I believe this is the type of charitable organisation that Future2 was set up to assist, so I wholeheartedly supported Camp Kulin’s application and was delighted it received a Future2 grant.