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Student volunteers rewarded with special smiles from children

December 17, 2013

Twenty-five children with disabilities are having a whale of a time at a free four-day holiday camp run by student volunteers here on campus at Bond University.

The children, aged between six and 13 come from Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast and have a jam-packed program including a theme park visit, movie night and talent show as well as sailing, swimming, dancing and arts and crafts.

This year's camp will feature a special treat for the kids when Santa arrives aboard the Westpac Rescue helicopter to present his sackful of presents.

This will be followed by a Christmas feast sponsored by the Gold Coast Titans.

The children's families are invited to this last day feast making it a truly festive celebration.

Now in its sixth year, the Bond Sony Foundation Children's Holiday Camp has grown to provide a valuable holiday experience for the children with disabilities.

The support team consists of all student volunteers and three nurses who have travelled from Victoria and New Zealand to give their time to the cause.

Every special-needs child has a full-time carer and 24-hour supervision for four days and three nights, and 44 student volunteers will devote themselves to looking after the children and ensuring they have a good time.

The children stay in the two-bed share accommodation on the Bond University campus for the three nights and four days of the camp.

One of the student co-convenors, Zoe Kaesehagen, said the volunteer carers stay with the children for 24 hours a day which results great bonds and friendships.

"The volunteer students get their reward from the smiles they see on the faces of the children in the lead up to Christmas," she said.

"It is an opportunity for the students to give the children a fun and entertaining experience while providing the children’s parents and their regular carers with some much needed respite.

"After Santa arrives by helicopter on the final day, everyone goes to the Christmas feast which provides a wonderful opportunity to share the experiences of the past four days with their children’s families."

The holiday camp has been running for the past five years and every year it gets bigger and bigger, she added.

"This year we had more than 90 students who applied to volunteers but unfortunately we can only afford to run the camp for 25 kids," she said.

"Each year we strive to improve the camp and maximise the experience for both the children and student companions.

"As the camp is completely cost-free for both the children and student companions we rely heavily on the generosity of the local community."

The Bond Children’s Sony Foundation Holiday Camp was founded by Bond University students and has since been developed and managed by various student volunteers.
The current convening committee boasts first hand experience on the running of the camp and all have been involved in the camp at a minimum 18 months.

"The convening team has aimed to create an enjoyable and relaxed yet highly motivated and dedicated work ethos to bring this year’s camp to fruition," said Zoe Kaesehagen.