Camp Footloose is a camp for children who have juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) aged 9-18 years. After attending camp, the children come away with new friends who they can relax with and share their experiences without fear of judgement. After five days of fun physical activity and useful education sessions, they are more confident and better equipped to handle friends, school and their condition.
In 2018, 29 teens and tweens arrived at Camp Footloose, held at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation, Narrabeen. For five days they enthusiastically took part in a variety of activities….leap of faith, archery, raft building, rock climbing, high ropes, kayaking, paddle boarding, super-fun indoor games, camp fire damper, outdoor initiatives, nutrition, goal-setting, yoga and meditation…and that was just the day time!
The group was a mix of newcomers and children who return from year to year. According to pediatric rheumatologist Dr Jeffrey Chaitow, who refers many of his JIA patients to our camps, the connections and reconnections the children make with each other are extremely valuable. ‘I send my patients to the Arthritis NSW camps because it’s important for them to meet other children with juvenile arthritis,’ said Dr Chaitow. ‘Often they are the only kids at their school with the condition and they find great support and comfort from meeting and relating to the other children at Camp.’
Some of the great feedback from the kids at Camp Footloose the year…
‘I made new friends, had loads of fun and learned about my condition.’
‘I never thought I could meet such good friends.’
‘I had a great time and will be back next year.’
The parents noticed changes as well….
‘He loved the activities and has been talking about nutrition, which is great!’
‘My daughter was just a lot more confident when she came back.’
A very big thank you to our tireless volunteers, ANSW staff and the Sydney Academy of Sport & Recreation..you all went above & beyond. A big thank you also to our corporate supporters – A Sounds Life, Captured by Kirri, Ultimate Minds & Renee from Chloe McLeod Dietitian for donating their time & resources to Camp Footloose. Your educational sessions on yoga & meditation, nutrition and goal setting were very well received. And of course, last but not least, to the wonderful group of Footloose campers, you are all treasures – enthusiastic & well behaved. See you next year!
Donate to Camp Footloose 2019
To those people who donated to the 2017 Tax Appeal that enabled the Camp to happen – the families sincerely thank you. If you would like to donate to future Camps, go to this link.
JIA website resources
Arthritis NSW further supports families impacted by juvenile arthritis with a dedicated area on our website for parents on topics such as managing pain, sleep and practical tips. There is even a guide for teachers to support children with JIA and help them get the most that school has to offer. Visit https://arthritisnsw.org.au//children-arthritis/ for more info.