For 30 years, Edmund Rice Camps SA has changed the lives of children and families. Below you can read and listen along to Narelle talking about the impact camps made on her, and her daughter.
How did you get involved in Eddie Rice Camps?
"My child psychologist recommended Eddie Rice Camps for my daughter when she was 5. She had some life-altering circumstances that had been challenging for us both. She suffered panic attacks and anxiety and needed some support to reshape her identity and show her that she was not all alone.
There was much anger in her home, and she withdrew and started blinking all the time when she felt stressed, which was a lot of the time. Eddie Rice was part of a program, alongside her psychologist, that worked towards her learning how to cope with stressful situations, learning safe behaviours, and reshaping her self-worth."
What impact did camps make on you as a mother?
"Being a single parent can be challenging. Initially, I was sharing custody, but due to circumstances that were best for our daughter, her father and I agreed that I would care for her 100% of the time and he would catch up with her for scheduled dinners with family.
Having a few days of respite to re-set me was just what I needed to get through to the next camp. Financially I was unable to go on holidays, and the camps allowed her to do some brilliant activities and have a holiday that she would never get to do without Eddie Rice Camps support."
What surprised you about camps?
"After just her first camp, she came home with a positive sense of herself. I enjoyed the follow up after the camp when the leaders sent her a parcel of affirmations to read. I was in tears when I saw how they felt about her and what they had been able to get her to share over the three days. Even a decade later, we wait together for her affirmations to come after each camp.
Recently, she had her last camp as a participant. It was a bittersweet moment when we received that last envelope of affirmations. We both knew that this was that last one. She was able to add at the end of an emotional moment, 'I can now give this gift to other kids mum! I cannot wait to lead and make a difference in other peoples life'."
What impact did camps have on your daughter?
"My daughter is now one of the most gorgeous, loving and confident women in her community. She would never have had the self-belief without the camps. They helped us get through some really difficult times, and I would often catch her reading through the kind words from the last parcel to re-affirm how she needs to feel about herself.
I want to say thank you to Eddie Rice Camps for nurturing our family. The support that we have experienced for over a decade has transformed who we are. I know that life could have been very different if Camps had not come into our lives because I did not have the skills as a parent to empower my child when I could barely put one-step in from of the other myself.
The encouragement and resilience that you were able to teach my daughter gave me the strength to be a better person. I am forever grateful."
What do you wish people knew about Camps?
"Although the camps are only a couple of times a year for a few days I firmly believe that my daughter would not be who she is today without the time she spent, with some really positive, young, adult leaders.
She has strived since her third camp to be these people. The leaders set such an attentive and friendly role model on camps that kids come home and share. It is more than inspiring, and I think many parents could learn from these volunteers."
Narelle's daughter is now an Eddie Rice Camps volunteer, giving back to kids like her.