Back to Our Heroes You are reading: Meet Molly | Camp Hero Youth Story
24th November 2022 | Read Time: 7 minutes

Meet Molly | Camp Hero Youth Story

The day was 4th of October 2021. I remember it like it was yesterday. The day my life changed for the better. The day when I met my second family and my best friend forever. Who knew that signing up for Camp Hero seven months beforehand just on a whim would be so lifechanging?

 It started with a drive to HBF Stadium with Mum. As we pulled into the carpark, my nerves started to kick in. I grabbed my suitcase from the boot of the car and wandered over to the meeting point. Around twenty people, most about my age, stood waiting. A mix of people chatting, and others standing alone looking lost. I saw one girl who looked just as nervous as.  We kind of said hi and introduced ourselves. Then a couple minutes later more people started to show up. I said a quick goodbye to Mum and as I waved her off, I saw Pia. I didn’t know who she was, but something told me I wanted to be her friend and she tells me to this day that she felt the same way.

Before we climbed onto the coach, we stood in a circle and introduced one another. Giles, the group leader and who reminded me of the guy who played Nigel in Jumanji 2, asked us what we thought this potentially life changing week would be like.

 Pia and I ended up sitting next to each other on the bus. We just clicked. It was like we had always known each other. We talked about where we lived, what sport we did. Basically everything. Loads of people asked us throughout the whole experience, and even on that first bus ride, if we already knew each other. And the answer was no, but it felt like we did. At this same time, we made friends with the people in front of us, Owen and Zara, they came on the camp as youth volunteers, and we became good friends with them on the trip too.

 Nanga Bush Camp was almost three hours away. To be honest, chatting to Pia made the time fly. Pia told me all about how one of her friends had driven down already and was at the house we were staying at. Five minutes later I met Cinty. I will never forget that moment as she is now, and always will be, my best friend.

 Once we arrived and had unpacked the bus, we put on our new Camp Hero t-shirts, and did some team building games. We were put in our dorms, and I remember feeling so sad as I had none of my new friends in with me. I realised the room I was in, was a room with all the girls who loved art, drama and music which to be honest are not the things I like, so I offered to swap rooms with a girl who wanted to change, so we did, and my new room was a lot better as they all liked sport. They were younger than me, but we all became one big family and I got to be the big sister.

Over the next few days, we learnt about how to be an ambassador to people in our community and how to help people who are feeling suicidal. We also learnt, listened, and shared our own stories of mental health. We listened to two parents whose son unexpectedly took his life, and then how they later realised the small changes in his character that had led to it. Signs to look out for. I don’t think I will ever forget their story. They were so brave to share it.

One morning we were woken up by pots and pans at around 5am.  We were told to be prepared for anything. We all looked from one to another wondering what we would be doing. We went for a walk around camp till we got to the river and were told to grab a leaf from the other side and work as team for us all to get across. This helped us to know that anything can happen, and we can all be out of our comfort zones but working as a team, and relying on the help of others, means we can get through anything. This was the main message of Camp Hero.

We also learnt how to keep our minds and body healthy and the best ways to do so. We had dieticians talking to us about how to make sure we exercise regularly, not a problem for sporty me! The whole time, I was spending time with Cinty and Pia, becoming closer and closer and developing a strong bond. Five days, four nights, felt like a month. We did so much in such a short time. But it was the lessons from Camp Hero that played the biggest role. Messages I could take back home and use.

Before we left, we wrote a gratitude letter to someone that has helped us through hard and good times of life. I remember thinking for a long time who I wanted to write my letter to, I then decided to write it to three main people in my life. I wrote a letter to my parents to thank them for what they have done for me and for helping get to where I am now. I wrote a letter to my hero and favourite person my big brother, for all the ways he helps me with when I need a boost and my final letter went to a teacher at school, thanking them for supporting me through my mental health and all through high school.

One of my favourite things about the whole experience would be the letting go letter. We wrote a letter to let go of something we were holding onto, something that wasn’t supporting us moving forward, and everyone had their own thing. Then when it was time, we let go of it in the roaring fire to get rid of it and allow us to change to a new person with no judgement.

Then to celebrate the end of the week, we had a graduation ceremony to show people how far we had come and to collect our awards for undertaking a suicide prevention support course. But it was also a sad time as well, as we had to say goodbye. I remember saying goodbye to everyone and then Cinty and I locking eyes and she started crying and we struggled to say goodbye as we didn’t know when we would see each other next. I can tell you that I still haven’t seen Cinty since camp, but we stay in contact as much as possible and facetime each other always. I am now counting down the days till the holidays and I can surprise her.

Some of my favourite memories of camp were the minion toothpaste party where we sang songs and partied with kids’ toothpaste. Another one would be backyard cricket and playing with all the leaders and making jokes about the cricket. I loved it when Arlo a boy from camp had cool bracelets and he made them for certain people and now I cherish the bracelet forever.

6 months later, I look back on what I have learnt and how life has changed for the better but also how much I miss the whole experience. I am now trying to apply to go on camp again as a youth volunteer and help kids like everyone helped me on my experience.