Camp cel­e­brates 50th birth­day

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - REXINE HAWES

Go­ing on school or hol­i­day camp is an in­sti­tu­tion for most Kiwi kids and teenagers.

To­tara Springs is a Chris­tian camp that many peo­ple in New Zealand are fa­mil­iar with.

The camp, on the out­skirts of Mata­mata, cel­e­brates 50 years this month.

It was built on a 59ha (148 acre) block in 1966 for Waikato Easter Camp.

In 1967 the first Waikato Easter camp was held.

To­tara Springs ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager Lee Love has been on staff at the camp for 10 years.

She, like so many of the staff are ex­cited by the 50-year mile­stone.

‘‘Look­ing back at pho­tos, it’s quite good to see the growth. It’ s amaz­ing to see how it’s de­vel­oped.’’

Birth­day cel­e­bra­tions will be held over the com­ing Easter long week­end, as part of the Easter Camp pro­gramme.

Singer Ju­lia Grace will be per­form­ing on Fri­day evening.

The com­mu­nity is in­vited, en­try is by gold coin do­na­tion.

A com­mu­nity church ser­vice and Big Pic­nic Lunch will be held on Easter Sun­day, also open to the pub­lic.

Love says the camp usu­ally ex­pects 750 peo­ple at the church ser­vice, this year she is an­tic­i­pat- ing up to 1000 peo­ple. Past staff and the camps founders have been in­vited.

Cel­e­bra­tions in­clude a cake cut­ting and the un­veil­ing of a plaque.

Love says she is ex­cited to see what the camp founders and past staff think of how the camp has changed.

‘‘We hugely re­spect the work they did to get us to where we are now. The chal­lenge now is what can we put in place to en­sure we are cel­e­brat­ing 100 years in the fu­ture.’’

Love es­ti­mates in the first decade of op­er­a­tion, 30-40 camps were held an­nu­ally. Now 120 camps run over 52 weeks. These range from com­mu­nity groups, schools, fam­ily re­unions, sport and hol­i­day camps.

Easter Camp and HM Rage on Queen’s Birth­day week­end are two of the ma­jor an­nual camps.

‘‘Ev­ery camp is dif­fer­ent,’’ says Love. ‘‘It’s the peo­ple that make it dif­fer­ent. Grow­ing mem­o­ries is one ex­pres­sion we use.’’

From 1995 to 2003 thou­sands of peo­ple flocked to the camp for the Parachute Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. A ma­jor as­set for To­tara Springs is the 1120sqm au­di­to­rium, orig­i­nally built for Rally Arura.

REXINE HAWES

To­tara Springs staff pre­par­ing for the camp’s 50th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions.

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