Gold medal Olympian Denise Lewis travels to the wilds of Australia for Nickelodeon’s new show Camp Orange. The former heptathlete helps four pairs of best friends aged 10 to 13 put their friendships to the test as they compete against each other in a series of crazy and messy challenges! Denise told What’s On TV about her experiences…

What first drew you to the show?
“I loved the concept of young kids coming out of their comfort zone and trying new challenges – you can’t always be doing things that are easy – you have to be challenged. It’s about teamwork, something that I know a lot about from my own sport.”

What was your role?
“I was camp mentor. There were points during the weeks where the challenges were tough, the kids were camping out away from their parents and I’m sure it was the first time some of them had been so far away from home. You had to deal with a range of emotions – some days they would be really elated, some days they weren’t feeling very confident and it was my job to get them through it.”

How did the kids react to the challenges?
“I think they were competitive because they wanted to win, but they also got the premise of the show, which is understanding how to win. It’s good to get to the top, but it’s how you do it – and that’s where I came in. They realised it didn’t have to be to the detriment of the other people playing.”

Did you enjoy mentoring them?
“It is kind of second nature to me. I do love inspiring kids. They have so much potential and with the right words they can do really good things. I always feel sorry when kids don’t have that opportunity.”

Do you meet many kids who don’t get any encouragement?
“I do see it – they do or say something and you think something is missing and that’s when you try and give them a few words of encouragement. By the end of the afternoon you see an immediate change in their behaviour because someone has taken the time and bothered with them.”

Do you think Britain will do well in the London 2012 Olympics?
“I think heptathlete Jessica Ennis is in with a really good chance. But dealing with the pressure for our guys is going to be very different from anything I even experienced. And the people that are favourites to take gold will be feeling it immensely. The pressure can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do.”

How do the general public usually react to you?
“Most of the time they wanted to race me! That’s always the first question, ‘Can we race you?’ ‘Can we see how fast you really are?’”

*Watch Denise on brand new Camp Orange, Fridays at 5pm on Nickelodeon