A desire to become a better role model for his 11-year-old brother, led Ethan William Wandin to his first REAL Camp last month.
Ethan, 17, admitted he had made mistakes in his formative years and fallen down traps he feared his brother also could.
“I wanted to come here because I have seen my brother struggle, I want to be a better leader for him- to help him go down the right path,” he said at the Camp.
“I want it to be easier for him than it was for me.
“Already on this program I have learnt a lot, it’s a great opportunity I’ve been given.”
Ethan was one of 27 young Indigenous people from across Victoria given the chance to develop their leadership and learn about their culture through the Korin Gamadji Institutes REAL Determined Program.
For some of the young people, it was their first Indigenous Camp of any kind, with many even conceding they hadn’t ever delved into their Indigenous heritage.
“Just being here and knowing we are all mob, already it helped me to feel connected,” Nakaya Frankland, a 15-year-old from Heywood said at the camp.
“It’s not like school where we have to go, and we are either good at it or we’re not- it’s more just a chance to come together and learn about our culture and ourselves.”
Frankland just three days into the camp said she had already made “a stack” of new friends.
One of those, Piper Knox from Geelong, said that the REAL Program made up for where schools were sometimes “a bit slack” in Indigenous Education.
“I have had so many opportunities that I probably wouldn’t get if I didn’t come on this camp, I have learnt so much in the last three days,” she said.
“I didn’t want to waste my holidays by coming here, but now- it has completely made my holidays.
“I want to stay for next week as well.”
The camp took on a relaxed approach with participants at the start of the week separated into teams and given a teddy-bear mascot that was always to be carried by at least one group member.
Punishment for the mascot’s absence included eating dinner out of a cup, or a similar humorous alternative.
Attempting to catch each other out provided participants with great entertainment and relaxed the mood in the heavier parts of the leadership camp.
Learning about emotional intelligence was a key component of the program.
“Banter is great, it keeps a group strong, but we always need to be careful what we’re saying,” Group Leader Kesh Sharma told the boys on Camp as part of a NIRODAH discussion.
NIRODAH is a company that works in the violence prevention space. The all boy’s session focussed on the negative connotations and habits that can be created by using poor language at a young age, particularly towards women.
“We are here to become leaders in our community and to be role models, you can’t help which people you have to look up to, but we all have a chance to show those who look up to us the best of ourselves.”
Each participant will have the chance to return next year for the next stage of the REAL Program.