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Wellbeing for all at Camp Quality: In conversation with Health & Safety Lead Shona Dodd

31 May 2024

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2024 05 31 Shona

In the heart of Camp Quality beats a dedication to enriching the lives of young people facing cancer. Between the hundreds of people involved with the organisation every year – from volunteers to companions to board members – the focus always comes back to building incredible experiences for campers. 

Shona Dodd, one of our newest volunteer leaders, found Camp Quality through her sister Barbara, the incredible Regional Manager for South. Along with volunteering with Rotary, Shona has spent her career in the Health & Safety space – but her approach is a far cry from the stereotypical image of a safety manager ticking off boxes from a clipboard. Instead, Shona says Health & Safety is actually a much more holistic mission around creating wellbeing and psychologically safe environments for everyone. 

So what does this all mean for Camp Quality? And why is it such an important conversation to be having now for the organisation?

Challenging the conventions of Health & Safety

The norm across New Zealand has historically been to look at Health & Safety as a necessary, but often annoying, tick-box exercise. Shona says the true value of Health & Safety isn’t just around protecting people from physical harm – it’s actually about developing environments that enable people to thrive.

“People come to environments as a whole person,” explains Shona. Be it their workplace, their community spaces, or their volunteering networks, humans need to feel safe – physically, but also psychologically. “When people are well, they become the best version of themselves. And that’s the power of true wellbeing. You create a space where people are mentally taken care of, and then they become more resilient. They have the support then be challenged, engaged, supportive, and able to participate.”

How this is being applied at Camp Quality

Recognising the intrinsic link between volunteer wellbeing and the quality of support they provide, Shona’s focus is on nurturing a culture where every member feels valued, supported, and welcomed. She emphasises the importance of addressing volunteers' needs, ensuring they too experience growth and fulfilment during their journey with CQ.

This starts with looking at the design of the camp. “How can we integrate better wellbeing principles so that every person in the camp environment is looked after? We know how important our volunteers are to making camp so special for campers – so it is absolutely essential that they feel supported, comfortable, and able to talk and ask questions openly.”

Another element is around increasing diversity and embracing all the communities and backgrounds represented by campers and volunteers. “We know that Camp Quality is an inclusive place, but it is so important that we vocalise it. We need to make sure that everyone sees Camp Quality as a sanctuary where everyone – regardless of background, sexuality, culture, or circumstance – feels welcomed and supported.” Part of wellbeing will require looking at better ways to support the diverse spiritual and cultural needs of both campers and volunteers.

Camp Quality, Shona believes, is not just a refuge for those kids facing cancer, but a transformative community where every individual finds solace, support, and the opportunity to flourish. Alongside regional managers, the board, and the incredibly dedicated staff at Camp Quality, she’s helping design an annual plan that focuses on bringing this mission to life in an even stronger way – through a focus on wellbeing, inclusivity, and psychological safety for every single person who is a part of the Camp Quality family.

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