South West HHS’s Hope Program has pulled off the 7th annual Deadly Recruits camp with the help of an enthusiastic bunch of teenagers and some very generous supporters.
For five days in June, 26 students from several South West high schools gathered on a remote property to connect with Country, make new friends, and recognise their inner strength and capacity for teamwork.
The Hope Program’s Sue Eustace-Earle takes the lead in organising this annual camp, with work commencing months in advance.
“It’s not a small undertaking to get everything organised,” Sue said. “As well as pulling together the inevitable paperwork, there’s everything from student transportation, food delivery, the all-important port-a-loo set-up, and a thousand other things.”
While the Hope Program is the lead agency, the camp wouldn’t be possible without the support of partner agencies and individuals.
“We rely each year on the generosity and support of Defence Force Recruiting,” Sue explained. “Not only do they send loads of equipment and three experienced personnel – representing army, navy and airforce – but they also cover our significant catering costs.”
“We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Carol and Lindsay Godfrey, whose property ‘Tinnenburra’ we descend upon each June,” Sue said. “The Godfreys offer use of their shearers’ quarters and shearing shed, plus they let us use all the power and water we need. And, they join the students for various sessions throughout the week.”
This year, the University of Southern Queensland supported the camp for the second time, bringing their ‘discovery van’ and its treasure trove of fun activities, and a sound system that regularly pumped up the volume.
Sue explained that the camp involves a packed schedule of activities that starts with reveille at 6am and includes a rigorous daily exercise regime, defence-type activities including night watch and tracking exercises, dance and music workshops, and lots of yarning around the campfire.
Each year since the camp’s inception, Uncle Col Watego, a retired warrant officer, has been the camp’s main facilitator.
“Uncle Col works the students hard and demands absolute respect every minute of the day. The kids learn very quickly to speak with courtesy and work in teams to achieve the many tasks he sets.” Sue also explained that the Deadly Recruits Camp relies on the generosity and goodwill of other community organisations.
“Our partners share the vision that their young people should be exposed to wonderful opportunities and understand that they have many choices and options for their futures,” she said.
Local support comes from Paroo Shire Council, and the Cunnamulla Corporation for Health (CACH), local Cunnamulla Elders, and the South West Hospital and Health Service.
“It really is a wonderful example of agencies and individuals working together to provide a unique and valuable opportunity for our young people,” Sue explained. And whilst the Deadly Recruits Camp is not an official recruitment program for the ADF, the camp to date has led to 11 young people from South West Queensland now pursuing full-time careers in the Australian Defence Force.