James* has been a volunteer with Edmund Rice Camps SA since 2018. James told us his experience of ERCSA, a proud part of the ERCS community:
"I'll say it once, I'll say it a thousand times. The Edmund Rice Community has had a profoundly positive impact on me. Through the trellis of support and skills demonstrated by community leaders, peers, and (on occasion) participants, I have had the opportunities and resolution to develop my skills, my leadership abilities, and my self-confidence.
I have become who I have wanted to become because Edmund Rice Camps created a space where that was not only possible but encouraged. I am sure that is the same with countless others within the community, no matter if they only participated in one camp or are still current leaders.
Like fresh water for a parched soul. A bit poetic and perhaps dramatic I know. Nevertheless, it's what my mind immediately goes to when I think of my annual involvements with Eddie Rice Camps.
As a volunteer for the last 4 or 5 years, I have been part of incredible camping experiences as a leader. From the yearly and anticipated week-long January Camps to the Winter Camps, Activity Days, and Leader Weekends. I've been blessed to be a part of these wonderful and fun-filled experiences and have loved every second of it.
It's hard to talk about what a typical Edmund Rice experience looks like for me as a camper. Each camp is designed to be unique, reflect the new mix of volunteers and be fun and engaging to a wide range of kids. But that variety is so important I think in Eddie Rice Camps' appeal. There's no one right way to have fun! But if I had to select at least 3 themes that each camp has in common, I would go with...
1. The chance to breathe.
In a world where today's youth are growing up with unlimited information at our fingertips and constant scrutiny from others and ourselves, it's easy to let things get ahead of us and we start to feel overwhelmed. Going on a camp helps both volunteers and participants experience a change of that pace. We get a chance to put our phones down, take a step back, breathe, engage in genuine human connection and interaction, and re-prioritise ourselves.
I believe I have met some of the most beautiful, caring, loving and wonderful people in the world on these camps. It certainly feels like a privilege to meet these people, connect with them and learn to grow with them. Plus, there's always something to committing to something larger than oneself.
Camps are filled with opportunities for people to grow and develop their skills. From the participants to the volunteers. As a leader, I have watched so many participants develop themselves in how they interact with others and their decision-making in fun settings.
Also, I have had the pleasure of being able to develop my abilities as a leader, a first aid officer, and a lifeguard. I've also been able to develop my understanding of many things, such as cultural awareness. All thanks to the opportunities Eddie Rice Camps have offered. It truly is a place where the good seed grows.
*Stock imagery used and name changed to protect privacy