Rhiannon Russell, 24, Long Point, NSW
Camp coordinator & Group Leader
Hello, I’m Rhiannon. I’m 24 years old and was home educated for most of my school life. I have three younger siblings and an adorable little nephew. I have attended several CWW camps as a camper and two as a Senior Staff member.
My interests include traveling, outdoor activities (especially ones involving ropes and cliffs), working with children, reptiles, different languages and cultures and helping others through eventually becoming a paramedic.
When I was 10 years old, out of curiosity, I started school and enjoyed years 5 and 6 at the local school. After eight weeks of high school, however, I returned to home schooling. I completed my year 10 equivalent and a cert. II in Animal Studies with the idea of becoming a herpetologist. I finished my high school studies with a year at a French High School and living with a host family. It was such an amazing year with plenty of travelling and meeting many amazing people. I also became fluent in French.
As a teenager I worked as a face painter, children’s entertainer and in hospitality. I completed a Cert. III in Outdoor Sport and Recreation. I recently spent two years living and working in London. I worked as a teaching assistant in many different primary schools and Special Needs High Schools throughout London. I also did plenty of travelling around Europe.
I have had the opportunity to see many aspects of education including home education, mainstream primary and high schools as both a student myself and also as a teacher’s aide. I especially loved working with Special Needs children as I found it so rewarding and fulfilling being able to help and guide them.
I was previously the Program Coordinator for Cataract Scout Park where I was responsible for organising and running school camps. This included hiring and training qualified outdoor activity staff, communicating with the organising school teachers to ensure all students are well prepared and looked after. Ensuring all our activity standards were safe and up to date, completing risk assessments and writing Standard Operating Procedures for our site.
My dream for many years now has been to become a paramedic and eventually get into their rescue team, so that will be my next adventure.
I’m really looking forward to being a staff member again at CWW this year. I really enjoyed it as a camper because it is such a great place to meet other like-minded and interesting people. Some of my best friends are ones I met at this camp, despite living in Sydney. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn new skills and also pass on your own skills and knowledge to others. I’m looking forward to sharing my skills and experiences with the other campers and having an awesome week.
Janine Banks, 62, Toowoomba
I’ve been involved in the home education/unschooling movement for over 15 years as a mother, grass roots support and contact person, newsletter producer(North Coast Home Education Newsletter) and columnist (Grace Chapman’s SHED), and family and teen camp organizer. I regard home education/unschooling as a lifestyle and realize that in my own way, I’ve been unschooling myself most of my life, despite my many wasted school years. Independent learning is my lifestyle, so it has been easy to role model this for my four children. Apart from formal schooling that ended with the scholarship to teacher’s college (only completed 2 out of 3 years of physical education teaching), I have completed a photography course at Brisbane Art College, five separate yoga teacher training courses, and the Lifeline telephone counseling course. I’m currently studying Yoga Therapy. I have had a variety of jobs including vegetarian chef, governess to 3 children on a sheep station in central Qld, Brisbane City Council nurseryperson, waitress, custom colour printer in photography laboratory, library assistant in Queensland State Library, barmaid, vegetarian cooking teacher, yoga teacher and organic salad bag producer.
Working at Grace Llewellyn’s Not Back to School camp for 14 sessions inspired me to provide the same safe but dynamic situation to help home educating teenagers connect and grow as they move slowly outwards from the family base into the wider world. My experience with my own four offspring, now aged between 27 and 30, helps me give the support and parental stability at camp that young people in new and challenging situations might need. My yoga training to look for the bright and shining light in everybody allows everyone the space to be themselves and grow at their own pace in their own way. I am very excited by the Camp with Wings concept and its potential role in the growing Australian home educating movement.
Joe Willow, 25, Long Point, NSW
Hi there, my name is Joe. A long time ago in a town far, far away….
No actually it was just Pomona on the Sunshine Coast, it’s like 3 hours drive from here. Anyway I grew up there, and by that I mean I had lived there from 11 onwards. I have always lived with my mum, and I remember we moved around quite a lot, so I never really had a “home base” where I could build up a large group of friends, although what this meant was that I had a few really close friends throughout my childhood. I think my mum was always interested in homeeducating me because she had little faith in the schooling system. This resulted in an extraordinarily informal education without any real direct teaching, as she had little time (being a single mother and all) to teach me. What she excelled at tremendously was finding people who were masters in their respective field who were interested in mentoring me. This resulted in me being vaguely good at a few things like: pottery, woodwork, building barns out of straw bales and mud, meditating, qi gong and organising a library according to the dewey decimal system. However as I cannot recall in living memory ever having completed an excersise book of any sort, the “foundation” of most peoples education was almost completely lacking in my case. I have little to no clue about grammar, have never used a calculator for anything more complicated than arithmatic, and I don’t know much about the periodic table. Everything I know in those subjects I have learnt myself, simply by osmosis. While this can be quite crippling in regards to further study, I have discovered that what my mum taught me was simply this: She taught me curiosity. She gave me the tools and the mentality to find out, and to go and learn anything I wanted to.
I moved out when I was about 16 during which time I was a hairdressing apprentice. I discovered after about 2 years that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, so this meant change. I quit my job, did a 6 hour barista course, and moved to Canberra. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I learnt quite a bit from the whole experience. After about a year there of what felt like limbo, (if you’re not a public servant, in the defence force or a student of the ANU it doesn’t feel like you’re there for any real reason) I moved back to Brisbane to obtain a Certificate III in Adult Tertiary Preparation. I really really really loved it! I had never sat down to do any study whatsoever, and it ground me down but I loved it. I was going to keep going with it but at the end of the 2nd semester something happened. I got stuck without anywhere to live. I had two choices, stay in Brisbane, struggle through the rest of my course and then….? Or go to Far North Queensland to live in Cairns?! Lock in option B of course! So yeah I moved to Cairns with the full intention of picking up my study when I’d settled in. Yeaaaaaah that never happened, I got too stuck into life! I learnt to scuba dive, jumped out of a plane, ate sushi in Japan, started skateboarding to work and concentrated on pwning noobs. This wasn’t a particularly productive time in my life, although I am now a qualified AIN (yay go me I did some study!) for some reason.
Now I find myself in South West Sydney in a relationship with a beautiful woman who is teaching me to be a grownup, and I have goals and plans and stuff now. So the next chapter of my life is yet to unfold…
I hope to see you at camp!
Meinda Webb, 20, Gold Coast, QLD
I’ve been homeschooled all my life, and my first camp was when I was 14. I was the quietest little mouse you could ever see (but never hear). I left with a heart so full of love and joy with friendships made that I will never forget. This year is my first year as a staffer!
As a child I was shy and introverted, I read books, wrote stories and poems, drew and painted pictures. I spent my time with my few close friends.
I feel like my life so far has been full of experiences that are showing what I do and don’t want – so my life will keep rapidly changing until I find something fulfilling.
I‘ve worked in hospitality for four years.. I completed a certificate 3 in Early Education and Care, at TAFE, and then in March 2015, I moved to London. This is where I feel like my life has begun.
Less than a year after I moved I finally accepted that working in education systems was killing my heart and soul, so moved back to hospitality where I worked in bars, pubs, tour companies, hostels, while doing and seeing as much as I could. I travelled in Europe, saw musicals in the west end, and tried to visit every place I wanted to in London, which I found completely impossible!
After 18 of the most full, exciting, impossibly eye-opening months, I returned home in October. Since then, I’ve gotten a job in hospitality, moved to the Gold Coast, and started studying a Diploma of Screen and Media (Specialist Makeup Services).
My life for the last year has taught me how vast the world is, and how dreams actually happen. I’ve done things and been places that I’d never even imagined, but being in the right places, it just becomes reality. I’m so looking forward to 2017, and then entering right back into the amazing world again!
My interests now include makeup (obviously), musical theatre, photography, film, travelling, swimming, and soaking up every piece of sun that I’ve missed! Also talking about London, the one love of my life.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without every bad and good thing that’s happened to me, so I’m going to take every experience and opportunity I can, and I hope to help camp open the eyes of more young teens who may not know what they want yet, just like me!
I look forward to seeing you there!
Brianna Stanford-Brook, 21, Brisbane, QLD
I currently live in Brisbane with my parents. This December, I will be graduating from university with a degree in international relations and political science. So I love chatting to people about what’s going on in the world, hearing their stories, learning about other countries and cultures, going on adventures and travelling. I also love a good book that I can get lost in, finding new places to go bike riding, working with children or those in need, I’m always seeking to expand my movie must watch list (everything from the black white classics to foreign films), I love a good debate and I’m constantly learning and seeking to push passed my limits.
I can’t really say I know what exactly comes next for me after I graduate, but that freedom and uncertainty will give me a chance to explore and experience new things. But I definitely plan to travel, maybe even do a volunteer exchange or internship overseas. I’ve been to two camps and this will be my first time as a staff member.
So I’m a little different…I went school my entire life. I was shy, I never really stepped that far out of my comfort zone and mostly kept to the same group of friends from school. When I attended camp for the first time, I was little scared, I didn’t know what to expect. Would I fit in at all? Would I make any friends?
Fast-forward a week to the afternoon I got home from camp, I couldn’t believe how different I felt. It’s hard to put into words, how after only a week with some of the most beautiful, fun, talented and down to earth people I made some life-long friends. I tried new things that I hadn’t even thought to try. I learnt from and bonded with people from across the country and even some Americans and Canadians too. I felt confident after running a workshop and taking part in unfamiliar activities with people who, at the start of camp, I barely knew. The thing I love about camp is no matter who you are or what you can do, it gives you a sense of belonging; you get to have some fun, try new things, challenge yourself and most importantly grow.
If you are coming to camp, come say hello, I’ll be the one looking out for you at night or be helping Janine prepare some delicious food. I can’t wait to be a staff member and meet all the new campers, and share with them an amazing, maybe even life-changing experience. See you at camp!
Clare Ainsworth, 19, Ipswich, QLD
Hey, my name is Clare. I’m 19 years old and currently live in Brisbane, with my parents, brother and sister. This year will be my first camp as a junior staff member, but in the past I have attended three camps as a camper.
I started homeschooling at the age of 9, and went right through till year 12. I’d always wondered what it would be like to experience high school, and enrolled in year 11 at my local state high school. I only lasted three terms, hating every second of it and returned to home schooling for the remainder of my senior years.
I love drawing, art, makeup, film, and anything creative, particularly photography. My first job was in a café at the age of 13, just working casually on weekends. I was so determined to save all my money and buy a really expensive camera, imagining this would turn me into a successful world-renowned photographer. I worked for one year and saved $3500, bought the camera, and now it sits in my room collecting dust. That story is definitely an analogy for my life. I like dreaming, new adventures, being spontaneous, and making anything that comes to mind a reality.
Next year I’m enrolled to study a Diploma of Cinemagraphic Makeup. The course runs for 12 months, and after I hope to gain a better understanding of makeup and if its something I want to pursue as a career, or if it’s more of a hobby.
I plan on going back to university and completing a Bachelor of Nursing, eventually moving into mental health.
I’m really looking forward to being a junior staff member this year. I’m hoping to meet new interesting and like-minded people. Share fun exciting new experiences, and have a refreshing positive start to the New Year.
Kahahn Crease, 21, Atherton, QLD
Louise Cranny, 61, Rural NSW