On Friday 15th May NSW Brainwave families as far as Wollongong and Bathurst descended upon YMCA Camp Yarramundi. Located on the heritage listed Grose River in the beautiful Hawkesbury Valley. Yarramundi is a natural bush site, with heated cabins nestled between the landscape and an abundance of birdlife. For Brainwave families, camp represents time away from the mental and physical exhaustion of caring for a sick child long term, an opportunity to meet new families and make long term friends, an affordable break away (free for our families) and a chance to have fun as a family and reconnect.

With the support of Ferrero and community volunteers Melanie, Stephanie, Richard, Laura, Jorge and YMCA staff, the camp kicked off on Friday night with ice-breaker games. The group was split into three teams; and each team sent representatives to attempt one minute challenges. It was a hoot to see teams eat marshmallows with their hands tied behind their backs, for dads to be the quickest to shave a balloon, to be the first to empty a box filled with ping pong balls from behind your back. Teams chanted and supported one another and a lot of laughs were shared.


Saturday and Sunday were adventure days. This year saw the introduction of an alpine rescue challenge in which the group worked as a team from one obstacle to another other without falling off. The aim was to move the eggs and logs before the Pterodactyl mother would return to her nest. The groups had to contend with a flying fox, a rope course and balancing beams. What was satisfying was seeing everyone generating ideas on how to cross the course and help each other. Popular activities such as the flying fox, giant swing and rock climbing continued to challenge participants young and old. What was heart-warming to watch were children with physical disabilities having a red hot go at all the activities and their siblings supporting them. Families enjoyed free time to make damper and build a fire or join in the fun on the oval with the popular game ‘capture the flag’.

This year a special happy ¾ hour was introduced in which parents enjoyed a glass of wine and nibbles in a relaxed setting whilst their children were entertained by YMCA staff and volunteers. The parents loved the opportunity to meet other parents and share their stories. This will become a regular feature with future camps.

The fun didn’t stop there as families came together for dinner and were surprised with an impromptu ‘belly dancing’ demonstration led by the Chidiac family; the place was rocking with everyone dancing and learning the steps including children, teenagers, mums and dads regardless of ability. A lot of fun was had by all. After dinner, all families retired to the camp fire to sing songs and toast marshmallows. A very tired group of children and families hit the sack that night!

Sundays are always tough as families reflect on their weekend and come to the realisation of how special the weekend was and how it must end. Emails, numbers, hugs and kisses were exchanged, and tears were shared….but most importantly, friendships were made and forged.

Thank you to all families, volunteers, YMCA staff; Tamika, Elle and Jasper and Brainwave Staff for their contribution in making this weekend the special weekend it was and a big thank you to Collier Charitable Trust for making it possible.