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