By Russell Bennett

“Don’t always follow the same path as someone else – make your own.”
A life-changing leadership camp has helped to inspire the next generation, with a pair of Pakenham Secondary College Year 9 students learning a series of incredible life lessons from their time at Camp Awakenings in Beaufort.
As part of its annual involvement, the Pakenham branch of the Bendigo Bank sponsored the two students – Eve Gray and Mitch Dupuy – to head along on the journey.
For the fourth consecutive year, the bank has proudly participated in the Camp Awakenings program to send students on the life-changing leadership camp.
Pakenham branch manager Norm Davidson said the sponsorship was part of the bank’s commitment to empowering young people in the area.
“We’ve been doing this for years now and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity and we’re really pleased and proud to be able to send a couple of students on this life-changing experience,” he said.
A youth development program for Year 9 students, Camp Awakenings is focused on building support networks for participants through friendship and trust.
Through self-belief, self-respect, a positive attitude and motivation, the participants develop and harness methods, tools and skills to encounter life’s everyday challenges.
Mitch admitted to having his reservations prior to the camp, but he said that once the students got there, they didn’t want to leave.
He said the camp taught him to always look at life’s problems from a different perspective or outlook.
“And don’t always follow the same path as someone else – make your own,” he said.
“We learned that, too.”
Eve also learned a number of vital life lessons to keep in mind as she moves forward.
“We learned that you won’t get anything if you’re not prepared to work hard for it, and to keep those people in our lives who’re important to us.”
As part of Bendigo Bank’s partnership with Camp Awakenings, 30 branches sponsor 50 students to attend the camp at the Cave Hill Creek campsite at Beaufort.
Camp Awakenings director Sandi Sieger said the three-day camp focuses on students with leadership potential.

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