Eleven hours is not a long time to decide your future, even if just for the next few months.
That was all the time Kaylah Rawson (18) had to decide whether she would stay in Canada or return to New Zealand, as the impact of Covid-19 started to be felt.
The former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil left New Zealand in mid-January to spend a year working at Camp Kindle, for children affected by cancer, near Calgary in Canada.
Then, Covid-19 was declared as a global health emergency.
One day her boss told her the camp would continue, then the next she was told her job was no longer secure.
She was given the options of remaining at the camp at her own risk or leaving at 4am the next day.
“I was the only one who decided to come home out of my friends,” Miss Rawson said.
“I got a message three days later saying the camp had shut down and the girls who I [worked there] with were calling me in tears.”
Until the camp closure was confirmed, Miss Rawson was not sure if she had made the right decision.
“It all happened so fast, it was pretty crazy.”
Although she had limited skiing experience, Miss Rawson had been hoping to learn as much as she could on the Canadian slopes.
She had travelled to Canada with another former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil, Ruby Smaill, who was working at another camp.
The pair got home just before the Level 4 lockdown in New Zealand and self-quarantined for two weeks.
“The rush coming home was just nuts.
“It was scary. People had these big gas masks on; it was very intimidating.
“Auckland Airport at five o’clock in the morning was packed, you couldn’t even move with your trolley.
“I was freaking out at the time, but it makes quite a good story.”
Even though it was cut short, Miss Rawson said she loved her time in Canada.
“I definitely have a different perspective on things, to see how kids who are affected by cancer react to situations.
“Just talking to some of them was so rewarding.”
Miss Rawson is still weighing up her options for the rest of the year.
“Ruby and I are thinking of doing a ski instructor course in Queenstown or Wanaka still going,” she said.
Until then, she would remain in Oamaru, and said she was enjoying taking a break and spending more time with her family.