The Big Give is an event supporting central Victorian community groups. The Bendigo Advertiser will be profiling several of the registered campaigns each week until the initiative ends with a 24-hour giving day on September 1.
Two years ago, something wonderful happened to Bendigo teen Ashlee Arnold that changed her life.
She won a scholarship to a school holiday program at Cave Hill Creek in the Victorian town of Beaufort, between Ballarat and Ararat.
“It sounds so cheesy and so corny… I’d never felt so loved and cared for,” she said.
Now, she wants to give two other people that same opportunity.
Ashlee is aiming to raise $6000 to support a young person aged 10 to 14 years to attend a seven day junior camp, and a teen aged 14 to 17 years to go on the 10-day senior camp with Green Supercamp Australia.
She has launched a Big Give campaign to help reach that goal.
The Big Give is a fundraising initiative aimed at supporting causes that give back to the community.
It started on Monday and ends on September 1 with a community giving day, when registered campaigns stand to win a share in a $30,000 prize pool.
Ashlee’s Big Give campaign has yet to gain a single dollar, but the 18-year-old has been raising money by selling chocolates.
Without the funding Adam Mackenzie from BLS Financial provided for her first camp in 2014, Ashlee said she would never have been able to afford to attend.
“The people who need it most are the people who can’t afford it,” she said.
“I want to make it possible for them to go.”
The camps are intended to improve academic and life skills in fun and supportive environment.
They are timed to coincide with school holidays.
For the first two days of her first camp, Ashlee said she was “so far out of my comfort zone” that she was questioning whether she wanted to stay.
She had experienced depression and anxiety and was “very much secluded.”
“I went from being someone who didn’t want to go outside and leave my house to someone who was going outside and doing more camps,” she said.
She credits the program with helping her make new friends and improve her existing relationships.
“It was a complete 360 on my life before camp,” she said.
Ashlee has since been on three other Green Supercamp Australia camps – another one as a guest, once as a crew member, and most recently as a team leader.
She hopes to continue that involvement in future.
In addition to the other benefits of the program, the camps have taught Ashlee how to break boards karate style and speed read at more than 1000 words per minute.