SHAYP Outsider

Note: This blog was written by SHA Fundraising Officer Gemma Powell. She writes about the opportunity she was given to go to SHAyp’s 8-12 residential trip and what it was like seeing the youth service from an outsider’s point of view.

“Close your eyes and put out your hand!”


“Because, just do it,”

“Ehhh … okay?”

I was on a bus surrounded by 13 sugar buzzed and excited children I’d never met before waiting to set off for this year’s SHAyp 8-12 residential camp. When I’d first been asked to help out, I’d enthusiastically agreed. In that moment, as this child makes a very suspicious request and the rest are looking at me like, “Who even are you,” I’ll admit I was worried. Scratch that in fact, I was terrified!

However, I arrived at camp with a pocket full of sweets (that’s why I was to close my eyes), and new ‘friends.’ My enthusiasm had returned with gusto. The camp itself only lasts three days (2 nights) but in a good way it felt both longer and shorter.

After a quick lunch the kids are straight into activities. I’m with the girls so it’s climbing challenges. There’s lots of laughter, weird animal noises (no animals around by the way!) and a constant stream of encouragement from those on the ground for those mid climb – nobody really did it on their own! This set the tone for the whole trip.
Already the different personalities are really apparent and it’s so interesting to watching how they approach everything differently from the activities, to meal times, to bed times. The trip passed in a whirlwind keeping busy with activities from water walkerz, survival skills, lazer quest and climbing. I’m not complaining, but I did feel like I was being picked on during lazer quest just a bit!

On the Tuesday morning the youth workers, Pete, Grant and David, led a group work session where the topic was Huntington’s disease (after all that cruel disease is the common denominator). I know what you’re thinking! How do you get a bunch of hyper kids to sit and listen to information on such a serious topic for a whole morning? And to tell the truth, they didn’t! There was a quiz, a video, lots of running about during seemingly daft activities but which all ultimately led to learning about HD. You really have to admire the creativity of a youth worker!

As a fundraiser when I write about the youth residential, I always say something like, “The camp is a chance for the children to meet other children from HD families, learn more about HD and of course have fun as well.” And it does that. But it also does so much more. I’ve never been so aware of the value of the youth service and the role they play in these young people’s lives. They are a trusted adult who they can confide in, the adult that is always looking out for them, that is always willing to listen, and that is also willing to have fun with them. I learned on this experience that no matter their home life and their own personalities kids are kids at the end of the day.

Now as a fundraiser I might say something like, “The camp is a chance for the kids to take part in various activities which help them grow their confidence and resilience, let go of stress and responsibility, and most importantly have fun! It’s a chance for the kids to be kids.”