By Emilie Ng
YOUNG mechanical engineering student Maria Moffett will happily give up her holidays to help support disadvantaged children as an Edmund Rice Camp volunteer.
Despite her busy schedule juggling university commitments, being available for Edmund Rice Camps “is a priority” for Maria, who has volunteered for the past five years.
Edmund Rice Camps offers recreational week-long school holiday programs for children, young people and families experiencing disadvantage.
Even after five years of volunteering, the 20-year-old said she was still blown away by the impact Edmund Rice Camps made on children.
Returning to the camps in January, Maria said she was moved by a small conversation with one of the children.
“This camp I was just on was for 11 to 13-year-olds, and we’re buddied up with one child who are old enough to be able to make good connections with adults,” Maria said.
“I was buddied up with a young girl and by the end of the second day, she was still very quiet, so I was a little worried about her.
“I asked her if she had any sisters, and she said, ‘No, but that’s okay because I have you this week’.
“I was feeling so worried that I wasn’t doing enough, but you never know what’s going on inside.”
The University of Queensland student hoped to continue volunteering well into the future.
“You need your dose of Eddie Rice – it brings you back down and gives you a mindful perspective,” Maria said.
Fellow volunteer and mechanical engineer based in Dysart, Alex Bell took a short hiatus, but returned to the camps this January “for the kids”.
“When you first start, it’s just something different where you can make good friends, but you come back because you know you are doing something important for the kids,” Alex said.
He said the camps were also a good opportunity to reflect on his own priorities.
“It changes your priorities in a better way.
“I’d say I’m a better person because of Edmund Rice Camps.”
Program co-ordinator Rebecca Cannell said Edmund Rice Camps specialised in “one-on-one mentoring” where children were “buddied” with a young adult who would be a friend or mentor to them.
“It’s a time for them to feel special and loved,” she said.
“We have kids come out of their shell, take on leadership positions at school, and we have been told that they are also happier at home.
“It’s good for their self-esteem and a real confidence boost.”
To get involved with Edmund Rice Camps, contact Rebecca Cannell on 3621 9666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.