As the sun was fading over the Narrabeen Lake, some 30 children and their families arrived at Narrabeen Sport and Rec Camp Site for “Bounce – Rainbow Families Resilience Camp” - a Rainbow Families weekend camp about resilience for school aged children.
The camp program was designed to support children to develop the building blocks for resilience, and space for parents to share their stories and their hopes for their parenting and their children. Many parents saw their children try new things, make new friends, and they themselves made new connections.
For many, it was also an opportunity to feel a sense of belonging and solidarity, to be authentic and be able to share some of the challenges of parenting, our fears and our hopes for our families.
It was nice to spend time together as a family, and it was nice to also spend time together with our community. - Parent feedback
Children and Parent Resilience Workshops
This year we had the expert team from Resilience In Kids run the resilience workshops at camp. The kids were divided into two groups for the resilience workshops and were asked to work together to build cubby houses. Working with other children they didn’t know yet, negotiating design, use of materials etc, and eventually dealing with a sabotage situation were all part of building the resilience of our kids.
Later in the day, the kids went canoeing and the team from Resilience In Kids ran a workshop for parents, outlining how parents can best support our young people develop resiliency. This workshop became more of a facilitated discussion not only around resilience, but the specific challenges queer families face, and the best way of navigating these situations.
Those that attended have reported that it felt safe, supportive and a much-needed event.
We don’t live in the Inner West, it can feel isolating where we are as not a huge active Rainbow community here. As a parent, it was also nice to just have time to talk to other parents without the pressures of rushing around/school/work/ etc etc we could take time to get to know one another. - Parent feedback
Many parents spoke about sometimes feeling invisible as rainbow parents, or judged, alone, or about the weight of upholding a reputation as a perfect parent in the face of some discrimination. Many spoke about feeling they could be themselves at camp.
Best part was as we were leaving camp and my son telling me how families come in all sorts of ways, 2 mums, 2 dads, 2 mums and 2 dads, 1 mum, 1 dad; however, they are all families! - Parent feedback
There were 20 family groups which reflected our vibrantly diverse community including one trans and gender diverse-parented family, 3 single-parented families, 1 co-parented family, a nice mix of lesbian mums, gay dads and bi+ parents. Families travelled from various locations including from Inner West, Eastern Suburbs and outer Sydney as well as regional NSW. There was also a wide age range of children which ranged from 2 month to 11 years old
My wife was so happy that kids weren't asking if she was a boy or a girl during camp and I over heard many campers reflecting on their own families and similarities with other families at camp.
The kids really loved it all, this was their first rainbow Families experience as we are from the country, and a newly rainbow family. The camp brought up list of questions from the kids and we had the time and space to answer them. Our family was normalized in a way we just can't do in our country community. - Parent feedback
Children had the opportunity to participate in a packed program.
The camp was a technology free space, and during the small times of free time there were spontaneous games of Monopoly, Uno, colouring-in, making friendship bracelets, and tip in the dark.
A highlight for many of the children was the self service food, being able to sit with other children at mealtimes.
My daughter loved all of the outdoor activities - canoeing, rock climbing, archery, swimming, cricket, bush walking. My daughter enjoyed making new friends with the other kids at the camp. It was great to see her with new kids connecting, and having fun.
My children loved meeting lots of different kids from different families. Loved all the sports activities and freedom to be able to run around independently. – Parent feedback
Many said they enjoyed the canoeing, archery and rock climbing activities, flying fox, and craft activities. Some enjoyed the bunk beds and the games night. All mentioned that they liked being with other kids, making new friends and being independent.
Contribution from Lush
Lush made a generous contribution towards the camp. This year we used this money to pay for a number of families that would not otherwise have had the opportunity to go to camp. We also offered discount places to families on low incomes. Around half of the attendees were at camp because of the contribution from Lush. These families were extremely grateful for the opportunity to come to camp.
We received free tickets and this helped us a lot. We wouldn't have been able to come along otherwise. My kids and I attended last year's camp and I really wanted my partner to come this time as she feels very disconnected from the Rainbow community. So having the opportunity for us to attend for her benefit was absolutely amazing. She walked away meeting new friends and making new connections and thoroughly enjoyed her time.
Our places were fully funded. Without this we couldn't have gone to camp.
We would not have been able to attend, we had travel cost as well. With 6 kids and both of us studying this was an amazing opportunity we wouldn’t have had otherwise. – Parent feedback
Camp 2020 -
We are already planning next year's camp and hope to see you there.