Our first New Zealand camp for children and teenagers with Inflammatory Bowel Disease was held in January 2015!

It has been an amazing start to 2015.  The first New Zealand based camp for children and teenagers with IBD was held from January 25th to January 30th at Camp Adair, situated in the beautiful Hunua ranges, just south of Auckland.  This was a meaningful, fun and transformational experience not only for the 44 young people who attended the Camp but also for many of us involved as adult volunteers as well getting to know a rich variety of personalities.  There was a great programme of activities, of which the mudslide, confidence course, high swing, flying fox, crate challenge, laser tag and the campfire skits, were some of the highlights!

The aim of the Camp was to help young people to connect with others of their own age who have IBD, and to build confidence, independence, self-esteem, resilience and empowerment. As part of the Camp, Christchurch clinicians conducted a study of quality of life QOL (IMPACT-III) and disease-specific knowledge (IBD-KID) before and after. Preliminary results show that the vast majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the camp improved their confidence in dealing with IBD, their acceptance of having IBD and their overall quality of life. Most reported that their fellow campers were the most beneficial experience to come from the camp with the vast majority reporting that this was their first time being around other children with IBD and that they made new friends with the same condition at the camp. All would recommend the camp experience to others.

We also held a programme for parents and caregivers on the first two days of the camp, which was also very well received and proved to be a great compliment to the programme which was offered to the young people.

We have been deeply touched by the fantastic support provided throughout the whole process of organising and holding the Camp. There was a magnificent show of support by the IBD clinical fraternity and from many of those associated with CCNZ either as patients or relatives themselves or through their professional connections, for which we are immensely grateful. Many of them were prepared to give the activities a go as well – Richard Stein and Andrew McCombie looked a sight covered in mud at the confidence course, our own Charlotte Perkins from CCNZ head office conquered the climb up the telegraph pole and the leap off down the flying fox – and you will recognise many others in the photos we took. Our Patron, Lady Janine Mataparae also visited the camp on the final morning to present certificates of achievement to all those involved – see the write up and photos on the Government House facebook site.  The financial viability of the camp was of course also greatly assisted by the generosity of corporate sponsors such as Jetstar, Auckland Round the Bays, Fairfax, AbbVie, Janssens, Baxters and Pharmaco.

We recently held a debrief with a representative section of those involved in organising and helping at the camp on May 3rd and from this came recommendations to the CCNZ board about the future of such a camp and a possible format going forward. We can reflect on a very successful first venture and the promise of much for the future with possibly even more able to be added in terms of value to the programme.

A huge congratulations to all those involved! You are all truly CCNZ stars.



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