Work. Finances. Chores. School routines. With the pressures of daily life it’s little wonder so many Kiwi families struggle to spend quality time together, and the numbers prove it.
In 2015 a Statistics New Zealand report revealed one third of New Zealanders feel they are not spending enough time with their partners and children. Surprisingly, the same study also found families with children are less likely than childless couples to share meals together.
Since 2013, the not-for-profit organisation YMCA has been sending up to 40 deserving families a year to Family Camp for a weekend of fully-subsidised cabin-based camping at the iconic YMCA Camp Adair facility in the Hunua Ranges.
The time-out provides a valuable opportunity for families to get away from the pressures of daily life, step back from everyday distractions and spend quality time together with the people who matter most: whānau. And with no TV or internet, but a large communal dining hall and all catering provided, there’s no escaping those meal times together.
For the Van Dalen’s of West Auckland, the October 2017 Family Camp was an opportunity to participate as a family in some of their favourite outdoor activities such as abseiling and archery. Mum Pauline says the financial pressure of increased rent in Auckland meant they've had less chances lately to get away and connect as a family.
“We used to do stuff together, like camp at Kai Iwi lakes, but then we hardly did anything together.
“The kids love doing outdoor activities and Family Camp was a great way for us to experience that together.”
Joining the Van Dalen’s at the October Family Camp were five other families from all walks of life: working families under pressure to stay ahead of the bills and worn down by the grind of the working week; single parents unable to afford similar opportunities or take the time off work; families with foster children looking for opportunities to better connect as a family unit.
There were small families of just one parent and one child, or large families such as the three generations of Samu’s – 12 in all, including grandparents, their two daughters and the grandchildren. Their motivation to attend? Daughter Shirley says her parents are getting older and they want to make the most of what they have. She jumped at the opportunity to apply when she heard about Family Camp.
"We're just trying to make family memories."
Applications for the 23-25 February 2018 Family Camp are now open
All families, regardless of their financial circumstances, are invited to attend. Apply by December 15 by visiting the Family Camp webpage.
YMCA is a not-for-profit organisation committed to strengthening families and empowering young people to reach their full potential. The October 2017 YMCA Family Camp was made possible via a generous grant from the Sir John Logan Campbell Residuary Estate, and donations from the public and YMCA members.
Want to help send a deserving family to camp? Visit our Everyday Hero page and donate today> everydayhero.co.nz/event/ymca-auckland-hamilton.
Donations over $5 may be eligible for a tax rebate.