As you drive to historic Bundanon, on the banks of the picturesque Shoalhaven river, you can see why for the past seven years, our CareSouth Champions have made this an annual day out for young people, their parents, carers and staff.

The day starts with an introduction to each other and the special significance of this spectacularly beautiful place, left as a legacy for us all to enjoy by artist Arthur Boyd. The main activity of the day is an art workshop on the riverbank led by Bundanon’s Education Manager and former Champion Mary Preece.

“It’s a unique experience that the kids in our Champions program wouldn’t otherwise have – both to be amongst nature like this and to do the art workshop,” said Champions Team Leader, Michelle Barham.

“This year more than ever, I realised that the experience starts even as you drive in. You feel that you are away and in this different environment. It’s peaceful, tranquil, and the art takes you into another world too. It’s a wonderful time out in a busy, chaotic world.”

“We’ve developed a really special relationship with Mary and the Bundanon staff over the years and they really enjoy having us here.”

Mary is well-aware of the need for vulnerable young people to switch off from the pressures that life can throw their way. And she has seen how much young people benefit from being surrounded by nature.

“It’s always great to see the Champions students, carers, and staff back here again,” said Mary. “It’s been lovely over the years seeing the kids growing up and their relationships with their Champions developing.”

When asked about their favourite part of the day, the kids’ answers included playing with sticks down by the river, the wraps at lunchtime, and of course doing the painting activity.

As to what they had learned from Mary, one student responded that: “You don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it”.