Dilworth Student and Old Boys give back

While most young men would choose to spend their school holidays hanging out with their friends and taking a well-deserved break, a Year 11 Dilworth student and two recent Dilworth old boys have spent the school holidays giving back.

Sam Donaldson (Class of 2020), Bailey Bramwell (Year 11 student) and Dylan Gallagher (Class of 2020) have spent the first week of the school holidays volunteering at Totara Springs Christian Centre in Matamata. The centre is the largest of its kind in New Zealand and is a venue for church retreats, school camps, sports activities, business conferences and holiday camps. The organisation runs a school holiday programme where children from Auckland through to Whakatane attend the week-long camp so that their parents can continue working, knowing that their children are in a safe environment and having fun. There are also a number of at-risk youth who attend the camp.

A motivating factor and one of the key reasons that Dylan chose to volunteer his time was his own experience at Dilworth.

“Having had the community of Dilworth and now having left, I really wanted to take this opportunity to create that kind of community that I experienced at Dilworth with kids who might not have experienced a community like that before.”

For Year 11 student Bailey, it was the chance to give other children a good experience and the opportunity to learn about God that encouraged him decide to volunteer his time. Recent school leaver Sam said, “I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. It makes me feel fulfilled.”

Sam, Bailey and Dylan were co-managing a cabin with between 8-9 boys aged 9-12. There are a number of fun activities and experiences that take place at the camp including abseiling, team-building activities, waterslides, go-karts, mini-golf, hot pools, archery, rock-climbing, camp fires and singing.

Despite the number of fun activities at the camp however, the highlight for the young volunteers have been more about their relationships with the campers and God.

“The highlight for me was being able to have discussions about God with kids who hadn’t considered God before,” said Dylan.

Sam shared a similar highlight saying, “Hearing the kids in my cabin talking so positively about God despite coming from very challenging backgrounds was a big highlight for me”.

The young Dilworth men have learnt a lot from their volunteering experience, including patience.

“Patience goes a long way. In stressful situations, being patient, open-minded and listening is the best approach,” said Dylan.

Year 11 student Bailey has gained leadership skills which will help him through his final years of school. “I have learnt that leadership is not only about telling people what to do but getting in beside them and leading by example and giving them opportunities to lead as well.”

As a recent school leaver, Sam is an advocate for giving back, since he himself received the gift of education from James and Isabella Dilworth. “If you’ve ever had other people give up their time for you, you should think about paying it forward. I’ve got a lot from Dilworth and it feels really good to give back and give that same love that I received from Dilworth and put it into other young people who might benefit from my experiences and skills that I’ve picked up from my time at Dilworth.”

Dylan’s word of advice for young people thinking about volunteering their time is, “Give it a go. Jump in and not only will you teach young people a lot but you’ll also learn a lot yourself. If you’re thinking about doing it, be careful. You’ll find it hard to stay away!”

April 30, 2021