National Camp April 2013 for Kids with Arthritis
Report by Lisa and Maya Thomas, Westport
The camp, like last year, was held at Totara Springs in Matamata which meant we were all in for a very special time indeed. Maya and I travelled over from Westport and met with the other families from South Island group at Christchurch airport, where we all excitedly boarded the plane to Auckland. The flights were sponsored by Jetstar which was just so generous.
Once we had all arrived safe and sound the bus was there to pick us up and off we went to Matamata to meet with all the other KWANZ kids and their families who would also be attending the Camp. Our kids all just bonded straight away.
Each child and parent was given their room allocations and received a goodie bag full of various products from hair gel, accessories to lip balm , -talk about awesome. They also each received a n Arthritis New Zealand T-Shirt and Jetstar T-shirts and hats.
The Camp was full of exciting activities -Nature hunt , Flying Kiwi, Slug guns for target practice, The flying fox and so much more, We had the National Pediatric Rheumatology Team from Hutt Hospital, Sue , Jackie, Rachel and Nicola, come along to educate parents and answer the many questions that we all had . It was so good to have that time and so wonderful of them to come and support us all.
Then there was the very welcome surprise visit from Steve Price, Rugby League Star. He had a go at abseiling along with the other kids and one brave mummy (me) this was heaps of fun.
The meals were always delicious and the Totara Springs staff were so friendly and helpful.
From the first day the KWANZ youth leaders were assigned to the different age groups and were just so cool with all the kids, great role models as they themselves understand what its like to live with Arthritis.
Wow and what a huge treat on Saturday afternoon. A bus trip to “Hobbiton”, it was AMAZING to see, and everyone had the best time and took loads of pics. We got to see the Hobbit homes and had a Ginger beer at the actual Green Dragon pub which is on the movie set and a chance to have a look around. It was a fantastic day. Before you knew it we were all heading back to the Camp for a yummy tea and to end the night, a swim in the hot springs pool.
Sunday came all to soon but what a great start – pancakes and other goodies for breaky, It was also a very special day for Caesar, one of the camp kids as he was celebrating his 13th Birthday. There was big birthday cake a pressie and of course a happy birthday song from everyone.
Then we cleaned our rooms and packed our bags , before something for everyone to enjoy ….The famous amazing forest water slide (everyone’s favourite), squeals of delight came from every person that had a go and they quickly made their way back up the hill for another go.
An art session was led by Moira, and the kids all created a special piece that will be made into cards diaries calendars to raise funds for Kids with Arthritis New Zealand…. and what a wonderful job they all did .
Once again, friendships were made with the kids and the parents, nothing can compare with the comfort and support you feel when surrounded by people on the same journey, all with the same concerns and questions about JIA and everything it brings into the children’s life and the families living with it.
As one of the parents I would say we all agree that none of this would have been possible without the amazing people doing everything in their power to bring the children and families together- Sandra, Francesca, Dianne, Robyn, Adrienne, and many others, -what would we do without you . The camp is the most wonderful gift to give our very special children and worth it to see every one of their faces with the biggest smiles. Maya and I already can’t wait for next year.