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Camp Yarramundi Celebrates 10 Years of Hosting Recovery Camp

Since 1937 Camp Yarramundi has been providing outdoor education, camping and community engagement programs to groups across NSW, but over the last 10 years it is one camp in particular that has made one of the biggest impacts on both participants and outdoor instructors alike – that is Recovery Camp.

Recovery Camp is an innovative five-day mental health camp that changes lives through combining clinical placement participants with people living with mental health issues, to offer an empowering and recovery-oriented experience.


The program, created by Professor Lorna Moxham and Dr Christopher Patterson from the University of Wollongong, focuses on building connection and community to provide opportunities for attendees to learn from one another.


“Each Recovery Camp is designed to be a collaborative program where health students and people with mental health issues contribute in equal measure to the experience,” explained Dr Christopher Patterson from Recovery Camp.


“Since 2013, Recovery Camps have had a profound impact on the wellbeing and recovery experience of people with mental health issues. We now have a family of over 900 people who have attended camp for their own mental health recovery. At the same time, Recovery Camp has provided over 1300 health students with over 108,000 hours of mental health professional experience placement as well as profound insight into working with consumers with serious mental health conditions,” continued Dr Patterson.


This month marks Recovery Camp’s 10th anniversary with Camp Yarramundi hosting the very first camp in 2013. As the unofficial home of Recovery Camp, the Y NSW and Camp Yarramundi are proud to celebrate this incredible milestone.


Nick Payne is the Camp Yarramundi Camping Manager and has been part of the program since its inception a decade ago.


“One of the core values of the Y NSW is undertaking meaningful work and the Recovery Camp program has always been strongly aligned to this value.  To be working with Recovery Camp for the last 10 years, to help change lives and shape the future of mental health care is a collaboration of which my team and I are particularly proud of,” explained Nick.  


“Outdoor Education is so much more than just having fun on an abseil, it’s about connection, collaboration and empowerment and Recovery Camp at its core understands and leverages the true advantages of outdoor education and the therapeutic links to mental health,” he added. 


Kaylene is an Illawarra local who has attended all 35 Recovery Camps over the last 10 years. The impact of these experiences on her personal and health journey has been lifechanging.


“Recovery Camp has had a positive impact on my mental health. When I first attended I had extreme social anxiety and depression which had a significant impact on the way I communicated. After attending camps over time, I have built up confidence and skills to move though my social barriers that were preventing me from participating in activities and life in general,” said Kaylene.


“I realise now I’m not alone in my journey of recovery. Camp has given me the strength to keep fighting to stay alive and out of hospital. I know now it is ok to fight this black hole and try to remember to take a little light to see my way back,” she continued.


Brodie is a nurse from Sydney who attended Recovery Camp last year as part of her studies.


“Recovery Camp truly changed my worldview by allowing me the privilege to explore the lived experiences of those who experience mental ill-health. I learnt so many valuable lessons from the consumers - lessons I will carry with me throughout my life as a nurse and as a person.


“There is incredible importance regarding the competency of mental health nurses, our job is to understand, guide, support, and provide hope that recovery is possible. Recovery Camp changed the course of my nursing studies and the way I am as a person,” said Brodie.


Camp Yarramundi prides itself on collaborating with Recovery Camp to ensure the program meets the needs of participants and remains beneficial.


“Aside from getting to build strong relationships with our regular camp attendees, one of the best aspects of Recovery Camp is the measurable impact that comes from the program,” added Nick Payne from Camp Yarramundi.


“Over 30 peer reviewed journal articles have come from students at recovery camp recording the improvements of mental health in participants as a direct result of the program.  We don’t often get the chance to see the benefits of a camp once someone has left, but with Recovery Camp not only do we get to watch participants flourish over the years but there is data to prove its impact.


“For us to have such a long-standing relationship with Recovery Camp means the program is having its desired impact and continues to be a huge success in the mental health space. The benefits are also extended to our own team in their knowledge and confidence in offering inclusive outdoor education to people from all walks of life,” he concluded. 

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