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When life gives you lemons ... you go to Camp Lemonade!

There were plenty of activities on offer at Camp Lemonade, including laser tag, bush walking and the giant swing.

A Salvation Army mental health awareness camp on the NSW Central Coast saw nearly 40 young people forge friendships and learn life-long strategies for mental wellbeing.

Camp Lemonade was created by The Salvation Army Oasis Youth Services on the Central Coast to engage in a deeper way with young people aged between 14 and 17 who were either already connected with Oasis or referred through other local services.

“The camp was designed to be a safe environment to allow participants to open up and talk about their mental health,” said Oasis Team Leader Emma Croce. “We went with the name because of the saying, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ because the ability to think differently and change mindset is a huge asset when it comes to wellbeing.”

Fun activities like cupcake decorating, macrame and art workshops with local artist Grant Molony were popular, as well as workshops run by Oasis Youth Services case workers on topics like ‘We all feel it’ about emotional regulation; and ‘Don’t believe everything you think’, which was about changing mindset.

Participants also did a ‘Walk on Country’, learning how to connect to culture and how being in nature is good for wellbeing.

“Camps are an intense time – there is a special bond that happens at a camp, and we wanted to foster that time and use it to assist young people who are feeling disconnected,” said Kimberley Hallinan, Oasis Youth Support and Mission Leader. “We wanted to give them skills and tools for their everyday life so that they can support their mental health journey.”

Oasis partnered with organisations such as Headspace, Happy U HQ and Links Youth Support Services, who attended and gave short talks about resources available for mental health and wellbeing.

Camp Lemonade mentors Cass, Shohreh, Sharon and Stacey.

“It was really great to see the difference in the young people from the first morning of camp when they were a bit shy and not engaged to the end, where they were so invested and wanted to talk to the mentors and leaders and their new-found friends.”

One camper shared that the experience was “incredible”. Another said meeting new friends was a highlight, and another shared that she would like to come back next year and bring some friends.

The Oasis team is planning a camp reunion day for participants to come back together and continue the journey.

Central Coast Council proudly supported Camp Lemonade. Oasis Youth Services is actively seeking sponsorship to continue the camp on a yearly basis.

One of the wellbeing sessions in progress at Camp Lemonade.


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