Improving the lives and long-term outcomes of people affected by bleeding disorders since 1958

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Promoting excellence in haemophilia 
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2024 teen & youth camp was a blast

From 01 to 03 March 2024 young people aged 11 – 17 gathered in Auckland for the 2024 HNZ teen and youth camp (TYC). This event comes around every two years and is a key part of HNZ’s psychosocial and educational pathway.

Growing up is exciting, challenging, and often very confusing. When a bleeding disorder is added to the mix the challenges of young adulthood only increase. TYC is an event aimed at for 11–17-year-olds, which uses a combination of education, fun, and peer and mentor support to help young people move to the next stage of managing their condition. The focus is on being well-informed and better able to make decisions about their bleeding disorder treatment, education, work, lifestyle, and relationships. Siblings of people with bleeding disorders are also invited to this camp because living in a household where a person has a bleeding disorder affects everyone.

The MERC facilities viewed from the beachThe 2024 TYC was held at the Sir Peter Blake Marine Education and Recreation Centre (MERC) at Auckland’s Long Bay. This a is a fantastic venue, with good facilities, which offers a wide range of supported outdoor activities. For this event MERC offered our young people the chance to learn how to get out on the water safely, some tips for survival in the wilderness, and some fun with projectiles. The MERC staff were fun and skilled. They ensured that our young people had a great time and learned a lot.

This was a shorter camp than usual, just two nights, due to the availability of the venue. That meant a very full programme indeed.

On day one, everyone arrived at MERC via bus from the airport. We were not allowed on site until 5pm, so we took the opportunity for some getting-to-know-you activities on the beach. Once we were allowed in, we quickly allocated beds and got organised for dinner. The first big activity of the weekend was to get into our three teams and build our mascots. For this activity each group was given a raw egg and a bunch of junk. Their task was to make a mascot that could be a part of the group, attend all the activities, and keep the egg intact until the ‘autopsy’ at the end of camp. This is always a popular activity, and we ended up with some innovative creations.

With time up our sleeves, after making our mascots we headed across to the reserve for a game of spotlight in the dark. This was an excellent way to wind up the day and was enjoyed by all.

After not much sleep, and a whole lot of noise, day two dawned bright and clear. This was to be a very full day indeed, which kicked off after breakfast with Darian’s big scavenger hunt. Each team was given a list of 15 things to find in the reserve/beach/camp area. This was a fantastic way for the campers to learn a bit about the area, and to bond as a team. It was great to see the mascots going along for the ride too.

Once everyone was all scavenged out, we took to the beach for a quick-fire sandcastle competition, before heading in for the first education session of the day.

HNZ treasurer Hemirau Waretini joined us after morning tea to talk about growing up in HNZ. He recounted his own journey through events like the national family camp and teen & youth camp, and he reflected on the strength of the life-long bonds of friendship he developed. It was valuable for the young attendees to see first-hand the direct pathway from this event to becoming a leader of an organisation like HNZ. Hemi followed up his talk by running a short workshop on events and activities that may be relevant to this age group in the future. This was a very successful session, and we are grateful to Hemi for offering us his time and insight.

Kayaking at 2024 TYCAfter lunch it was time for the most anticipated activity of the weekend. One of the great things about MERC is the access to the beach and the sea. They also supply equipment and experienced instructors to allow campers to get out on the water. We were very pleased to be able to don lifejackets and wetsuits, and take to the water aboard kayaks, a giant paddleboard, and a trimaran canoe. This was a great time, which was enjoyed by all. Even better, those who were feeling brave were able to do a bit of snorkelling and admire the fish and kina. This was a long afternoon, but everyone returned to shore excited by the experience.

After some quiet time and some dinner, we were very lucky to have haemophilia nurse specialist Vanessa Minor from the Auckland HTC come in to talk to us about all things BD. Vanessa’s talk was full of interesting information, and a quick quiz afterwards showed that the young people had taken a lot on board. It was particularly pleasing to see the young men growing an understanding of the challenges facing young women with BDs. We really appreciate Vanessa making the time for us at this event.

As is traditional, the final night of camp is movie night. This year was no exception, and the crew enjoyed the chance to relax, eat popcorn, and wind down after a long day. It was telling that once we all hit bed it got quiet a lot quicker than the night before!

The final day of camp saw another MERC led activity. We were divided into two groups who swapped between a survival activity, and a projectiles activity. For the first, campers were taught to light a campfire using a flint and available natural materials. The payoff for this was marshmallows at the end. The projectiles activity involved contrasting a catapult and launching tennis balls, as well as learning to make and throw flax darts, known as teka. These were excellent activities that really got the kids thinking.

That was it for activities for the weekend, all there was left was to clean up, and reflect on another successful event. At the final assembly we took the opportunity to thank the fantastic leaders, who had volunteered their time and enthusiasm to support our young people. We also recognised the staff and board members who had contributed, especially Tineke and John Maoate who were our camp mum and dad once again.

The mighty green team at 2024 TYCThe final act was to give out graduation certificates, and to award the winners of the top team. Throughout the camp we had been giving out points for good behaviour. When the points were tallied, we found that we had a tie! The only correct thing to do was to hold an elimination game of rock, paper, scissors. Congratulations to Cassie who secured the win for the mighty green team in the most exciting and tense game of rock, paper, scissors ever seen.

This camp would not have been possible without the support of Sanofi and Roche, who provided funding support. Without the participation of external funders like these we would struggle to offer the high-quality events we do. Thank you.