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Dear Purple Soup, Hey, it’s Sally* here!

Thank-you so, so, so much for your amazing camp! It was truly exhilarating and challenging at the same time; yet was one of the best times of my life. Thanks also for having faith in me to believe that I truly could conquer the giant swing and I tell you…. that was pure amazing!!!!!!!

Making friends is a challenge for some, but a joy for others. For me it was a joy! Coming to camp, seeing all of these beautiful children; disabled or not… they were just pure amazing in every way! The way some of the epileptic children alongside myself did the high ropes course blindfolded! But from the camp, I realized more than ever that the way you do your hair in the morning, the brand of clothes you wear to even acting like something your not, just to prove something to someone… it doesn’t mean anything! What really counts is what’s on the inside and the way you go about life.

No one cares what you look like or the way you talk…because all they can do by putting you down is make you stronger than ever, and make yourself like a wall; it can stand its ground in tough situations and be strong for not just their peers, but themselves too. The wall can take balls thrown at it, which in human terms may conclude as being cold pricklies…. and nobody likes them! Its just a real eye opener. I mean, the amount of things we all learnt on that camp, and even the way everyone bonded together; it was absolutely fantastic and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I found as though I’m not the only girl who is a little quirky in the way she goes about things, and I’m not the only girl who was scared (!!shaving-cream-less!! LoL!) about some of the activities. Because in many ways, we are all the same! I now believe in me! Because now I honestly know that ‘I CAN DO IT!’ and that there is nothing holding me back. I love seeing the kids run around and play with each-other. And at camp, they all got along as did I with a lot of people; children and adults. I was tearing up when I left because I realize how much these things mean to me.

I was also tearing up reading my warm fuzzy book! The large amount of fabulous people who made the effort to write anything from a sentence to a paragraph or two, it means a lot to me. Telling someone how well they did or how much fun they are is a real great compliment and I was proud to know that I made new friends along my great journey of life. So again, thank-you so much for everything! It was just amazing and I can’t wait to come and hopefully do it again. I guess that’s it for now so thank-you very much and: WARM FUZZY: you’re the most motivating and happy and cheerful people I know!!!!! You’re just amazing! BTW ‘WHO CAN DO IT?’ I CAN DO IT!!!!!!

Yours sincerely, Sally* xoxo (*name has been changed)

Dear Purple Soup,

I just wanted to let you know how much of an impact this years siblings camp has had on Sarah*.
Sarah of late had become withdrawn and anti-social and she lacked self confidence. Jack and I have tried so hard to help her through this but it wasn’t until her weekend away with you guys that we noticed a difference in her, and I’m not talking subtle, I’m talking HUGE. Sarah has gone from not joining in on activities, not asking for things at counters, no confidence around adults, and an enormous temper to a young nine-year-oldgirl who since has chenged immensely.

I think my daughter is beautiful but to see her smile and show the inner Sarah was amazing. Sarah has talked a lot about comfort zones and what they mean, which is something you guys have taught her, this has made the biggest difference to her. I want you to know that the siblings camp is a wonderful event and you have taught our daughter that its ok to be scared and to create herself a comfort zone and she will be ok, you have truly changed a little life and for that I can only say THANK YOU.

Keep up the great work,

My name is Mary*, I’m 15 years old and I have Ulcerative Colitis.

When my mum first told me about the camp that Purple Soup was running for teenagers living with Crohn’s or Colitis, I didn’t really give it much thought. As the day came closer and closer I began to have negative thoughts about it, and the thought of not going at all was becoming more and more prevalent. When the day came to head off to camp, my mum picked me up from school early and we drove to Alexandra Headlands on the Sunshine Coast. I was feeling really anxious about going and the thought of turning around and going home was still in my head. Thoughts like, “what if they’re all boys?”, “what if no one likes me?”, and “what if I feel sick and want to go home?” all crossed my mind.

With only 30 minutes before I had to be dropped off, I broke into tears. My mum comforted me and convinced me to just go and give it a try. When we arrived at camp, we were welcomed by Lauren and two girls who had previously been to a CCA camp. Before my mum left to go home, she and I had little chat with Tim. He told me that on camps like this, there is always at least one person who cries, whether it be because they are unwell, happy or sad, or even because they had such a good time and didn’t want to leave.

After talking with Tim, and having him reassure me that I was going to have the best time, I immediately felt so much more comfortable and welcomed. After that, I went and joined the others, where everyone sat in silence. The leaders got us going with some ice-breaker activities, and from there the camp went from strength to strength. The Purple Soup team had some pretty awesome activities planned for us such as; high ropes, the leap of faith, going to the beach, and also lots of team and trust building activities like ‘going over the wall’.

On the first night, when it was time to get some rest, us girls thought otherwise. For most of us, it was the first time we had met another person with the same illness, let alone being in a room full of people with Crohn’s or Colitis. We had so much to talk about, and there was not one moment where someone didn’t have something to say. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to say something so freely and have a room full of people know exactly what you mean!! We talked and talked about all the things we had been through and I think we probably ended up sleeping at around 1am. Going on this camp meant that I was able to meet a whole bunch of new people who fully understood me. I also suffer from anxiety, but while on the camp I did not even feel the slightest bit anxious or self conscious, because I knew that everyone knew and understood what I was going through.

This camp and the Purple Soup leaders have truly enriched my life. This camp gave me the opportunity to meet new people, who I know will be friends for life. All the leaders were so kind, gentle and understanding. They would push us to get out of our comfort zone and enjoy this once in a life time experience. I am so thankful for this experience and I truly believe it has changed me as a person. I now have a different outlook on life, knowing that I am not the only one who suffers from Crohn’s or Colitis. The weekend flew by, and I wish it could have lasted longer.

As I was saying goodbye to the people I had become so close to, in such a short time, I again burst into tears, but this time they were tears of pure joy and happiness. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, and I would highly recommend and encourage other teenagers who are suffering from Crohn’s or Colitis to take part in a camp like this one. I can definitely say that this is the best thing I have ever done in relation to living with Colitis, and I am so glad that along with the support of my mum, the leaders, and all the other teenagers on the camp, I was able to give it a go and have the time of my life!!

Mary (*name has been changed)

Dear Purple Soup,

I came home from camp and felt a buzz of passion, devotion and a renewed energy for what I do. This was instilled largely by the phenomenal group of young people, by also an incredible contribution was made by your Purple Soup team. Watching the way you encouraged and supported every young person, not only to reach their potential, but to smash through and embrace every opportunity was nothing shy of miraculous. It was an absolute privilege to be privy to this amazing experience. I want to thank you for the work you do and for allowing me to witness what is truly extraordinary work.

Luke McEldrew, Health Professional