Michelle Goulter has come a long way from her roots in Millmerran, a town of about 2,000 souls in Queensland, Australia.  Several years ago, she came to Canada in search of an adventure and discovered a love of camping so inspiring to her that she now works as the representative for Camp Canada to Australia and New Zealand.  She is unabashedly passionate about the power of summer camps to motivate and develop young people, so much so that she is determined to bring the summer camp experience to her home town in Australia.

Michelle described the Darling Downs area in which Millmerran is located as one that lacks social services and opportunities for young people.  The area is recognized by the Queensland government as one where levels of well-being are reported to be low and cases of alcohol and/or drug abuse are higher than elsewhere in the state.  While facilities exist for organized outdoor experiences, their use is currently limited to school-related initiatives, and this has resulted in inadequate access by rural youth populations.

Michelle’s goal is to establish camps that will address the needs of rural youth, 10 – 17 years of age, by providing experiences that educate, create opportunities to build character by overcoming challenges and taking calculated (supervised) risks, allow kids to be themselves and make friends without peer pressure while developing confidence, self-respect and acquiring skills in self-motivation, socialization, communication and leadership.  Beginning with a pilot project of one camp for one week in January serving 100 kids, Michelle hopes to eventually expand to multiple locations for 3 weeks in January.  Michelle’s personal experiences of the benefits of summer camp in Canada have significantly shaped her vision for this undertaking.

Michelle’s introduction to Rotary began when she attended RYLA week events in Australia.  When she moved to Toronto earlier this year, she followed up on the RYLA inspiration by joining a Rotaract club and sees synergies in her goal of establishing a summer camp in Australia for rural youth, and RTW’s mission to support initiatives that ignite potential in youth.

Thank you summer camp for teaching me so many life lessons and skills that have changed the way I act, how I interact with people and the way I strive to influence children’s lives.  Being able to take a step back from a situation and see it from another’s perspective is one of the best lessons I was taught at camp.  By not judging someone on the way they look, the amount of money they earn, where they are from or bad decisions they have made in the past can allow you to see people in a whole new way. Everyone deserves to be treated and respected equally; one of the core values of any summer camp. By Looking at all aspects of life in a positive way is a truly refreshing way to think.     Michelle Goulter, 5 Reasons Why I Want To Thank Summer Camp!