Edmund Rice Camps Victoria's GEM programs are pretty simple and pretty special. They’re all about Growing Eddie Memories. What’s an Eddie memory? Well for us, an Eddie Memory is all about those moments of change and core memories that help shape who we are. We make these kinds of memories every day on our Camps. It’s something as simple as having someone help you overcome a challenge or show genuine interest in what you have to say. For children, these moments and memories help build them into strong, resilient, healthy, and confident people.
Before the unpredictability of COVID-19, we were able to rely on our regular residential programs to make those memories, but now, we’ve needed to build a model that is dynamic and adaptable for our current climate. We also know that the pandemic drove increases in social isolation and mental health concerns in young people, increasing the need for us to respond. GEM programs take those memory-making, transformative moments that happen on our residential, weeklong programs and put them in a shortened day program. GEMS have been focused on:
Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing
Developing social skills
Increasing self-efficacy and self-worth
So far, we have run five GEM programs and the feedback has been phenomenal. Our initial evaluation last Winter showed that:
Everyone involved indicated, in one way or another, improvement in relationships, the opportunity to build resilience, development of social skills, increased self-efficacy, and self-worth.
We’ve also received great feedback from volunteers, like one who said that “a highlight was seeing a participant I had camped with a year prior and noticing the progress they had made since. It really highlighted for me why I camp, how special Eddie Rice Camps are and how much of a difference they make for the participants.”
This January ERCVic continued its success with more GEM programs.
We thank St Joseph's College, Geelong for hosting ERCVic and providing the space for our Volunteers to create a beautiful community of acceptance and belonging. This program was made possible by Vic Health's Reimagining Health grant. We thank Vic Health for their financial support.
We are energised by this new model of engaging with young people and welcome any agency, corporate, or community support to continue this important program into the rest of 2022 and beyond.