Our Meet a Member champions, Bec and Mason, caught up with Shen Li who first attended Lord Somers Camp in 2001 as a Red Grouper.
Can you start by telling us about your upbringing?
I was born in China and moved to Australia when I was seven. At the time, China was only at the beginning of its economic development and living standards were significantly behind that of Western economies such as Australia. I still remember my Mum’s salary was around A$10 a month back then and that was considered high relative to average. My parents sacrificed their jobs, career, and social status in China to move to Australia to provide me with better opportunities, something that I am eternally grateful for. I grew up in Melbourne and was educated in the public school system. I completed a double degree in Commerce and Law at Melbourne University and then started to work in the financial services sector.
How did you discover Lord Somers Camp and Power House?
I went to a High School in Flemington called Debney Park Secondary College. Its name has now changed to Mount Alexander College. It’s a relatively small co-ed public school with around 400 students and when I went through around 60 students graduated year 12 each year. At the end of Year 11, some of our teachers had asked students whether they would be interested in joining Lord Somers Camp during the summer. No one at school had ever heard of Lord Somers Camp and there was limited interest. My friend and I thought it might be a good opportunity, so we volunteered.
What were your most fond memories of Lord Somers Camp and Power House?
I attended Camp as a Grouper in 2001, then as Staff in 2002, and then I was a Slushie from 2003-2005. I then did a couple of years back as Staff in the Press Department, including a year as editor of the Summers Times. Throughout that time, I attended a number of other events. I volunteered during Camp Diversity, Very Special Kids Camp, empowerme, the Grand Prix. I also benefited from the MAX Leadership Program. As I got into the workforce and my international travel commitments increased, unfortunately my ability to attend Big Camp as well as relevant community events has been somewhat limited.
I look back on all those memories with great fondness. I learnt a lot during that time. LSC&PH and the people I met along the way helped build and shape me to the person I am today, and without the organisation and the wonderful people that make up the place, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
It’s difficult for me to place rankings on all my experiences but some things that stand out:
- I got a lot of satisfaction volunteering at the Community Camps and helping out the families for a weekend. It was hard work but it felt worth it in the end. It also helped me develop a sense of empathy just putting myself in the shoes of the families who were taking care of the kids every day.
- Big Camp was always a lot of fun. There was always a lot of good food, good fun, and good fellowship. I think in a world where there are mobile phones, the internet, social media, and constant connectivity, Big Camp was a great way to escape for a week. That’s probably something I miss the most.
What impact has Camp made on your life?
I would break into a couple of areas: (1) personal development; (2) relationships.
In terms of personal development, I think my experiences at LSC&PH has shaped me and develop me into a more well-rounded person. The various experiences that I went through taught me about teamwork, enhanced my interpersonal skills and improved my communications skills. I’ve always been introverted in nature. I think these experiences have helped me better manage that introversion. More importantly, having to opportunity to have broad exposure to different people at Camp as well as the Community Camps taught me empathy.
What has been more enduring for me and something that I really value has been the meaningful relationships that I have been able to develop through Camp. In everyone’s life, there are some very significant people that come into your life that meaningfully impact your life, your values, your aspirations. I’ve developed some tremendous friendships over the past 20 years due to my association relating to the organisation. I have been able to meet people I genuinely admire and I have learned so much from them. They are a constant source of wisdom and they have changed me for the better. The relationships that LSC&PH has been able to foster is something that I am eternally grateful for.
What have you been contributing towards in your local community or general society since first attending Lord Somers Camp?
In all honesty, probably not enough. As I moved into the workforce and then as I have built a family, my areas of focus have changed, and this has impacted my ability to contribute to my local community. There’s been a few areas where I think LSC&PH has changed my behaviour permanently (for the better I think).
My experience with LSC&PH has fostered my passion for youth development and I have been very lucky that I have met some amazing mentors. As I have become more senior in the business world, one thing that I do try is to go out of my way to invest time in the younger members of my company as well as my teams to give them advice and develop and train them as people. I figure that I have been lucky enough to have people invest in me and I should return the favour to the next generation.
LSC&PH Values are Fun, Friendship, Belonging, Care and Acceptance. Which of these resonates the most to you and why?
These values are all very much inter-related. Ever since the first day I was introduced into the LSC&PH family, what has struck me the most has been the open nature of the organisation that genuinely accepts all members regardless of background. The organisation is always there for you. Members can have stepped away for a long period of time and they are always welcomed back as if nothing has changed.
Why should people be involved in our programs?
LSC&PH programs are a great opportunity for people to move outside their comfort zone, meet new and wonderful people and learn from them. Some of the paths that LSC&PH programs can take you down may truly be life-changing.