Sixteen year old, visually impaired Joe shares his experience about his first time at the annual VIP (Visually Imparied Persons) Camp hosted by YMCA’s Camp Adair

Sixteen year old Joe Taka was born visually impaired. Blind but with light perception, Joe has the ability to tell light from dark and the general direction a light source is coming from. Despite living with this disability Joe says he is happy most of the time. “It’s a lot easier during summer. With the help of the sun light and good contrast I can generally see the outline of a person.”  

At the end of March Joe, along with 14 other youngsters from the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind were invited to attend the VIP camp hosted by the YMCA’s Camp Adair. Students from James Cook High School and Manurewa High School have been taking part in the camp for many years, and many students have enjoyed the challenges of the camp and made many new friends.

Sponsored by the Remuera Rotary Club, the VIP Camp has a unique structure. Each blind person is partnered up with a sighted buddy are blindfolded and complete the same challenges in order to help them understand the difficulties the visually impaired campers are facing. This gives them a new perspective on the challenge and shows them how capable their visually-imparied buddies are.

The Remuera Rotary Club helps organise the sight partner system by selecting senior students from Dilworth, Kings College and Diocesan School for Girls. As a first timer at the YMCA’s VIP Camp Joe commented on the sight partner system and how easy he found it to make new friends.

Camp Adair, located in Hunua, is a perfect location for the VIP Camp, offering a wide range of adventure based activities. Joe had a great time and embraced the phsical challenges whol-heartedly. His favourite activity was crawling through the mud and going down the mud slide – a typical teenage boy! The biggest challenge he overcame was rock climbing. “At first I found it hard to hold on to the handles, the holes were too small for my fingers! I was really nervous and thought I was going to fall.” Trained staff put Joe at ease and helped him overcome his fear.

Camp Adair is proud to provide the backdrop on which treasured memories are created.  An Auckland institution,  Camp Adair will celebrate it’s 100th birthday in October.  Joe is one of hundred of thousands of campers who, over the years, have enjoyed the grounds, facilities and expert staff at Camp Adair.  Well done Joe!