On 9 January, 71 children and teens and 25 young adult volunteers will be arriving at El Rancho in Waikanae for a six-day camp on the Kāpiti Coast. This is no ordinary school camp. The children and volunteers all have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a term used to designate two chronic, incurable diseases: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The annual camp was started in 2015 by Crohn’s and Colitis NZ Charitable Trust. The camp, supported by a medical staff of five doctors, five nurses, and a child psychologist, is offered free, including transportation from all corners of the country.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of these diseases in the world. These are diseases that often require lengthy hospitalisations and repeated surgeries. They are treated with medications that suppress the immune system to reduce the inflammation throughout the digestive system. They are diseases that can be very isolating, particularly for young children.
Camp Purple Live provides a supportive environment where young individuals with these conditions can gain insights into their illnesses, push personal boundaries, experience joy, and gain the tools to better understand and manage their illnesses. Above all, the camp community shows them that they are not alone.
At the heart of Camp Purple Live is an extraordinary team of volunteers, all of whom personally understand the challenges of living with IBD. The volunteers play an important role in ensuring the safety, well-being, and guidance of the campers. The ten-member medical team ensures that medical issues are managed promptly, and, importantly, that medications are properly administered. The camp’s child psychologist facilitates and leads group discussions in a secure and protected environment.
The highlight of the camp is Carnival Day, when children who are too young to attend camp, can visit with their families and experience the camp and community in a single day. Carnival Day is a time when everyone dons costumes, navigates obstacle courses, and has the chance to dunk their leaders, the CEO, and the medical team in a dunk tank. Dr. Richard Stein, Chair of CCNZ, comments that “it is great that the kids get to interact with the medical staff on a personal level. They see doctors and nurses as real people, able to have fun, people who are genuinely concerned with their welfare”.
This year, CCNZ’s CEO, Belinda Brown, has taken up several embarrassing challenges to raise funds for next year’s camp. Belinda says that “if enough funds are raised, I’ve agreed to be dunked in the tank, be a willing target for water balloons, and swim in the lake with the eels.”
Camp Purple Live and Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand Charitable Trust are funded solely through charitable grants and personal donations.
For more information about Camp Purple Live 2024 or the Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand Charitable Trust, please contact us (information below) and watch the video: https://youtu.be/uin88vOE7_s
To donate to the CEO’s challenges, please donate through our give-a-little page: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/camp-purple-live-2024-waikanae