Auckland CFFD Camp – Building Friendships and Community

The Encourager

It’s been three years since the last National Camp was in Matamata and last year, we had to cancel Auckland CFFD Camp. So, with much anticipation as the committee began planning for the 2023 camp at Carey Park, there was also much prayer for it to go ahead. With all the work involved in preparing a weekend camp for people with disabilities, it was encouraging to hear several excited campers saying they couldn’t wait to come.

Auckland CFFD camps at Carey Park have been running for many years, which is a major highlight in the CFFD calendar. Being a smaller camp, it has more of a community feel. Also, it gives a chance for some campers to attend for a day. We also have many volunteers come along to help with the afternoon activities.

The significance of camp for many of us is having a weekend away, letting our hair down, having fun and building new friendships. One person said that it is a place where we are on equal par, not seeing one as disabled or one being able-bodied. In fact, it’s a place where we help and learn from each other, especially in the buddy system role.

“Auckland CFFD Camp means a lot to me,” says Julie Swan, who regularly attends the camps. “ I don’t have friends who visit or talk to me in person now. So going to camp means I can be myself and don’t need to worry if I am struggling. I like the worship and praise. The atmosphere is awesome. The games are really cool and cater for all of us. Camp has a big impact on me, as I get to talk to people and make true friends. This is ‘me time’, as I am a carer for my mother, so I am exhausted. Camp gives me some time to myself.”

Moreover, camp is not just all about having fun and making friends; we also get amazing teaching. Each year has a theme. The sermons often challenge campers to set new goals for themselves. This year was no exception. The theme was ‘Reboot, Rebuild and Reset’. This really spoke to Tracey Powell, who is blind and has CP. She wanted to attempt things she hadn’t done before. One of them was being able to peel an orange. What an achievement that was! She was so excited. Another new activity was line dancing. We’re sure Tracy is looking at setting more new goals this year.

Fiona was looking forward to going to camp this year. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to camp due to illness in my family,” she says. “Although I couldn’t be at camp, I had a fantastic time organising things for it. For example, preparing the craft boxes and ensuring we had all sorts of activities on hand. As always there was a lot of hype and excitement for us on the committee leading up to camp.

“Craft at camp is a much-loved activity by many campers and I have had the privilege to arrange the craft component for our camps over several years. I cannot rave enough about it.

I was gutted about missing out. I checked into the Facebook group to keep up with what was happening,” says Fiona.

“It makes me feel quite emotional seeing the success of our camp,” says Fiona. “At camp, barriers that are often found in the disabled community are erased and unconditional love and inclusion is met. Not half-heartedly but in a way that scaffolds our members’ needs to give them experiences that many able people take for granted. Inclusion is always our goal. Another thing that warms me to camp is how our volunteers come back year after year to help again and again and again. They often bring their friends, throwing them into quite an infectious and enjoyable experience.

“My heart was so warmed when I saw a young teen who was joining in for his first time at camp. He was jamming with the bros and banging out beats on a drum. He is now quite an accomplished drummer, I hear. Why I was so warmed was due to the fact I was this young teen’s preschool teacher!

“Being on the committee I get to hear the reflections and feedback once camp is over. Everyone who came to camp said they felt at home. At camp, past connections are rekindled and new connections are made. I love how out-of-towners also make the effort to come, including our so-willing camp worship team. They have been such an inspiration, time and time again. Now that’s a big ‘wow’ in my eyes. Looking through my lens, I think God has truly blessed us with the provisions through funding, helpers, sponsors, donations and much more. If you have not been to one of our Auckland camps, please give it a go. I hope to see you next year!”

We would like to thank COGS for funding that made it possible to reduce the fees for campers to attend.

Written by Jean Griffiths & Fiona Thomas


Jean is the communication liaison for CFFD branches as well as serving on Auckland CFFD committee for nearly 25yrs. Jean got Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 17 years old.

Fiona has been on the Auckland CFFD committee for the last 8 years, following many years of involvement. She has an amputation and is also hearing impaired.


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