Camp Quality

Camp Quality

Hands up who would like to stop pretending they know how to be an adult and would like to spend a week being a child again? Cool probably most of the university audience. I mean, being an adult is hard. Who doesn’t want to be a kid again?

If you love being high energy, doing activities and eating five times a day, then Camp Quality (CQ) is for you! CQ is a camp for children living with cancer. All the campers are between 5 and 13 years old, and they have experienced cancer, either as patients or as siblings of patients. Volunteer companions are always loved and needed, especially males- so if you are a guy or know a great guy suggest they try camp! As a companion, you get a camper buddy to hang out with for a whole week. You do activities with them, encourage them, support them and generally be a friend for an entire hectic week.

My first camp was during January 2018. CQ South is in Queenstown and the view from the camp is just one of many perks. I was partnered with a 10-year-old and had an unbelievably fun week. One of the neatest things about this camp is you don’t get told which campers are patients and which campers are siblings. All the campers are treated as equals and get their own companion to hang out with. My camper was super high energy and wanted to do every single activity! This made for a really tiring week (I swear she had a spare energy reserve somewhere), but also an unreal week of trying new things and having potentially the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Not only do you meet some super cool kiddos, the other companions are great people too. Having a team of caring people to share your experience with makes it so much better. I went on Camp already knowing a couple of the companions, but by the end of the week had developed friendships with so many new people, and it’s nice being able to share the funny and sweet things you forget about hanging out with children.

CQ is an awesome way to have a fun summer experience with a bit of an extra meaning. For most of the children, cancer has absorbed a huge amount of their time and their parents’ time. I’m sure you all know enough to know cancer sucks, but this camp means so much to the children and their families. Not only do you get to do all kinds of amazing activities, you also get to make a child’s summer a bit more awesome in the process. Warm fuzzies for the win.

If you want to know a bit more, here’s the link: https://www.campquality.org.nz/get-involved/volunteer/

Start 2019 in a different way, try Camp Quality.

Humans of Unicrew: Brianna Nally

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

This week we caught up with Brianna Nally! This cool human has volunteered in a range of roles and had some insight on her volunteering experiences for us!

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Why do you like helping others?

Everyone needs help at some time or another, and its really nice when someone is there for you when you need it, no matter what the problem is. We generally live in a society where this kind of support can always be found, but this only works if we give as well as take. If I can help anyone out, I therefore will. It makes me happy to know that someone I help today could go on and help another tomorrow, and so the trend goes on.

What has been your most rewarding volunteering experience and why? 

My most rewarding volunteering experience would be, in general, my involvement with the Chemistry Outreach group here at UO. In particular, our recent trip to Taiwan to run a workshop in a national high school chemistry camp there. It was fantastic to meet lots of new people, both students and teachers, and gain an insight into not only how students in other countries work but also how the whole event was managed differently. I feel it provided me with wider knowledge of running/organising these kind of events and more confidence for when I do that kind of thing back here in NZ.

What do you think needs to change in the University of Otago student community and why?

Like I said previously, I think us students need to realise that a happy and functioning community (university-wide or otherwise) cannot function properly on the good deeds of a few alone. Volunteer! Get involved with something new! It doesn’t have to be boring like picking up rubbish, it could be promoting your subject (like I do with chemistry), helping out the international students (eg conversational english through the SLDC, which I had a lot of fun doing!), or just proof reading a friends assignment.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you want to have dinner with and why?

Marie Curie; she’s been a great inspirational figure for me – she made amazing discoveries and dedicated her life to her scientific endeavours, despite the prejudice against women in the field at the time. I’d love to hear how she dealt with that, and what encouraged her to get into the field in the first place. And I’d want her to know how many past, present and future scientists she has or will be an idol for 🙂

Humans of Unicrew: Jo Mohan

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

Jo is a super volunteer! She is involved with the Otago International Friendship Network, Students Without Borders, Kiwihosts with Uniflats, and I’m sure she is doing lots of other wonderful things. She was awarded a NZ Youth Award earlier this year for her volunteering efforts. Here is our wee chat with this superstar!

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Thoughts from a Sleepless Sleepout

Thoughts from a Sleepless Sleepout

Last Friday night I participated in the third annual Dunedin Sleepout. The Sleepout raises money for the Dunedin Night Shelter and raises awareness of homelessness in our southern city. Despite the stories from others and my own knowledge of Dunedin and it’s frosty winters, nothing really prepared me for my night in the Octy.

Firstly, Dunedin is cold. Like, really cold. We braved one of the clearest, coldest nights of the year, where the temperature definitely dropped uncomfortably into the negatives. I’m a relatively tough Southern lass, but I have a fairly low tolerance for freezing my butt off. Kitted out in my expensive hiking thermals, fleeces and woolly socks, I hunkered down in an oversize windproof jacket and hoped for the best. Once the dance parties came to a close at 1am, I quickly realised that the night was only going to get colder. We had joked about going to the bars to keep warm, and I started to think that perhaps Suburbia would be my saviour after all.  

Eventually I succumbed to adding a third layer of pants and a sixth top layer, and climbed into my extra dense sleeping bag. Around 4am, I wondered if the night was ever going to end as I warmed my hands on the coffee urn, hoping that the heat would soak through my gloves and into my bones. My heart hurt for those who do this night in and night out, with no real end in sight. As I wondered if I would ever feel warmth again, I considered the grim prospect of this being my only option. A cold, slightly damp student flat is still better than nowhere to go at the end of the day.

Secondly, is it trivialising homelessness to have an event where we sleep outside for one night and then proceed to return to our homes and regular lives? Can we really encapsulate the experience of being homeless with a 12 hour stint in the Octagon, with the knowledge that we only need to do it once? We had a plethora of cardboard and tarps to create shelters, generously donated and supplied by sponsors. There was no shortage of soup, coffee, hot chocolate or pizza. OUSA came through for the teams with hot water bottles that were constantly refilled from urns of hot water. I was surrounded by friends and fun activities that made the first several hours pass in what seemed like mere minutes. In many ways, we didn’t emulate the homeless experience at all. The only aspect that we really captured was being outside on a freezing night in Dunedin city.

However, the Sleepout did start conversations. I wasn’t the only person realising that sleeping outside is a barely sustainable situation. Homeless people approached our soup table and asked if they might have some soup, and it was the conversations had over soup that really underscored why we were doing this. Some felt failed by a system that couldn’t serve them. Others were thankful that someone with a voice, was saying something. Others just wanted a conversation and some soup. I am grateful for being able to share in people’s stories, and to be in a position where I have a voice that can fight for others who are not heard.

Finally, as the sun rose and the ice began to glisten on the road, the 2017 Sleepout drew to a close. Cardboard was packed away and students shuffled wearily back to their halls and flats. The only signs we had even been there were human shapes imprinted into the damp grass. For some, home is an undefined concept, a question mark hanging in the air daily. The homeless are those that we try not to make eye contact with as we hurriedly brush past on George St. We try to ignore what makes us uncomfortable, but that discomfort is the knowledge that the situation is wrong. At the end of the day, we are all humans. I sit now in my flat musing over the fact I can see my breath as I type. Yet someone else is probably considering where they can sleep safely tonight. Someone is spending their first night on the streets, fearing it won’t be their last. Someone is spending another night on the streets, wondering when will be their last?

If this is something that concerns you and you want to help out, get in touch with the Dunedin Night Shelter: http://www.dunedinnightshelter.co.nz/.

Humans of Unicrew: Lydia Bowers

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

Lydia is a volunteer with the language support programme at the Student Learning Development Centre. She’s been on exchange and her bright personality lends itself to working with the international community.

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Photo Essay: The Dunedin Sleep Out

Photo Essay: The Dunedin Sleep Out

Here are some gorgeous photos from the Dunedin Sleep Out. The Sleep Out happened on Friday the 28th of July. It was a bitterly cold night, but our troops braved it all in order to raise awareness about New Zealand’s rising levels of homelessness. Students and staff from the University of Dunedin came together to experience one night sleeping rough, to get a taste of life on the streets, and to raise critical funds to tackle homelessness.

To quote Volunteering Otago,

Homelessness is not as visible in Dunedin as it can be in larger cities overseas. Nonetheless, according to the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust, there are homeless people in Dunedin every night of the week. The Dunedin Night Shelter provides a vital service for our most vulnerable citizens. An increased demand on the service due to growing social problems and better coordination with organisations such as the police, community mental health teams, and Prisoners Aid means more volunteers are presently needed.

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More than 41,000 people in New Zealand have no place to call home.

Over half of New Zealand’s homeless are under 25.

One quarter are children.

You can check out the Dunedin Night Shelter here:

http://www.dunedinnightshelter.co.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/DunedinNightShelter/

 

Humans of Unicrew: Lucy Prestidge

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

Lucy volunteers with the language support program run through the Student Learning Development Centre here at the University. If you’re interested, pop into the office to find out more or check out the website.

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