Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2018 Finalists

What Matters 2018 Finalists

2018 What Matters? TAS Year 9/10 Winner


Five Days of Madness


Taroona High School


It was the holidays once again and camp time was just around the corner. Five days to be spent with my second family; the wonderful people who create a week jam-packed full of fun for kids who have it tough at home; the kids who slip through the cracks and sometimes never find their way out. The chaotic beauty that occurs in these camps is something so rare and so brilliant, it is the one thing that truly matters to me.

My heart beat with the speed of a hummingbird as the bus pulled up to Woodfield that morning. I got buddied up with a first-time camper who we didn’t know much about. We knew that he was eleven years old and that his father was out of the picture. As the kids jumped off the bus I called out my buddy’s name and the smallest boy turned his head, smiled, and ran over to me. He was the cutest kid you’ve ever seen: blonde hair, blue eyes, like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. He was wearing his cap on backwards and was clutching a plastic bottle full of apple juice tightly to his chest. I walked up to him, hand outstretched and ready for an introductory handshake. He replied – the biggest grin painted on his face -with the hardest high five that he could have possibly mustered. I knew right then and there that we would be friends.

My buddy soon became pals with another little boy in our group and they would sometimes get a bit too excited and start wrestling on the floor. My buddy’s new friend was a talented rapper who had an unbelievable way with words, especially for an eleven-year-old. I could honestly see him on stage in ten years, performing his poetic genius to the world. A kid like him deserves to pursue a talent like that; it shouldn’t just be the privileged people who have the chance to follow their dreams. It is becoming almost impossible for people whom society has forgotten to break that cycle.

By the third day, my buddy had learnt some wonderful manners, pulling chairs out for the little girls and collecting everybody’s plates at dinnertime. It was crazy how much this child had changed over the week; he had come out of his shell and blossomed into a fine gentleman. I felt awfully proud of him, yet through all the good times the eventual moment where he would have to go home loomed over my every thought. I knew that once he slipped through my fingers and returned home I would be helpless, not knowing if he was safe or happy. I dreaded the moment in which I would have to say goodbye him.

On the last day of camp, there was a bonfire where we toasted marshmallows and sang some pretty whacky songs. One of the little boys on camp had gotten so attached to his big buddy that he began to cry; the poor kid didn’t want to leave the next morning. Seeing this, I became very emotional because I could relate to what he was feeling; all of the leaders could.

When the sun rose that last morning of camp we all said our goodbyes to the little ones, waving our arms off as the bus departed Woodfield. After the kids left we all felt empty inside; all the ruckus and smiling madness were gone and we were left with only each other. The knowledge that I have made some small difference in these kids’ lives is what matters to me.

2018 What Matters?Jenna Beck