If you've been to Summer Camps and enjoyed riding the horses there, you more than likely have Lee Hudson to thank for them being there. Lee has been working with Summer Camps for about 16 years now. "I've always done the horses for all three camps — Junior, Teen 1 and Teen 2," she says. "I have to get the hay, transport it all, ring up people who will loan me horses and so on. It takes a while for the horses to settle in, but by the end of Junior Camp, they're used to it."
Lee brings some of her own horses to the camp all the way from where she lives on the Gold Coast. "People from here and a few hours' away also allow us to borrow horses," she says. "I know there are people I can ring up who will always lend us their horses every year — some of them aren't Seventh-day Adventist. It's quite nice!"
A number of the people Lee borrows horses from were contacts made through the previous Yarra caretaker Steve Martin.
In everyday life, Lee works with horses. "I do a bit of trail riding, and work with a brood mare stud," she says. The way she ended up working at Summer Camps was through a friend of hers who asked her to come help out. "I also have a trail-riding certificate, which I don't think very many people have," says Lee. "So they keep asking me to come back because it means we're covered for insurance."
Being at Summer Camps is something Lee feels allows her to do something for God. "It's the only thing I feel I can be useful at!" she says. "I like to be able to give the kids the confidence to try something new. Sometimes the kids ask very deep questions and it's interesting what you'll get! They learn to trust something — like a horse — that teaches them it's okay and safe to trust something else."
Lee's favourite thing about Summer Camps are the responses. "It's definitely at the end where the campers fill out forms and say what they've enjoyed the most," she says. "I love hearing the feedback from that and how many want to be baptised. The responses make it for me and I get a big smile on my face just from that! Some of the kids love the Friday and Saturday programs; others love the activities. For some campers, it's their first experience with God and Jesus — it's not just Seventh-day Adventist kids who are here."
Her advice if you're thinking of working at Summer Camps? "Definitely come. Just by putting yourself out there for God to use, He will work through you."