On a remote bend of the Macalister River in the foothills of Victoria’s Alps, RACV member Cherry Wake and her husband Adam set about redirecting young lives in disarray. As behavioural officer and operations manager respectively for the Lions’ Licola Wilderness Village in West Gippsland, they aim to introduce fun and friendship to troubled children.
The Lions transformed the former mill town into an adventure camp for young people. With 16 houses, a mess hall and a commercial kitchen, it has a capacity of 250, catering to schools and community groups.
But every school holidays Lions clubs sponsor disadvantaged youngsters aged from eight to 11 at the camp, many with emotional and behavioural problems. “Many of them don’t have stability in their lives,” says Cherry, who has held RACV insurance for eight years. “Many don’t have trust. They each require something different: trust, nurturing, respect.
“Here, they arrive with a blank slate. Some, I have learnt, just need fun, and they need to be nurtured. They want to escape whatever it is that’s going on at home.