After decades of nurturing young people, Waimanaaki at Riversdale Beach is getting some timely TLC of its own.
Formerly Camp Anderson, named after the family who donated money for the land, it has been operating as a children and youth retreat since 1985.
The Learn N' Live Ministries Charitable Trust, which is made up of various churches within the wider Wairarapa region, purchased it in 1997.
Trust chair Paul Andersen says for four decades Waimanaaki has played an important role in the lives of thousands of children who have attended camps and used the facilities for a range of events.
“Of all of the feedback that we receive from groups, the most common response is that Waimanaaki ‘feels like home’ to those who use the camp. The Trust strives to forever maintain this feeling as we continue to improve the resources we are fortunate to have,” he says.
The Trust House Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the much loved facility, and recently approved a $63,000 grant to fund an upgrade. The work includes replacing weatherboards on the main Clark Lodge building - plus a lick of paint - some fencing, purchasing a camp vehicle and a new generator.
The proximity of Waimanaaki to the sea ensures that the children and young people who use the camp get to have some “amazing experiences in a natural setting”, but also means that maintenance and restoration is a constant issue. The repair work will enable Waimanaaki to continue to cater to the accommodation needs of a wide range of groups, including those with disabilities, he says.
Learn N' Live Ministries is also currently without a camp vehicle which has made transporting both food and people to and from the camp a difficult exercise involving borrowing vehicles from a wide range of people and groups in order for the camp to run.
Another need that has arisen in recent years is the provision of a generator. Being a rural property that relies on rain water being pumped from tanks, a back-up generator is essential in the event of a power cut.
“There are few options available to local residents at Riversdale in the event of a significant power outage. This generator along with the camp facilities could service a significant number of community members if needed.”
Mr Andersen says much of the success of Waimanaaki over the years has been because of the efforts of staff and volunteers.
“We have a large number of committed volunteers who help at camps and have had many stories shared with us of the ways that children have benefitted, from small practical things such as learning how to tidy their rooms and clean up after themselves to other advantages such as developing a positive self image. Our camps are always full, often within minutes of bookings becoming available. Because of this the Trust is exploring ways that we can enable more children to attend in the future.
“We also have a number of teenagers who come and help at each camp. These young people develop leadership, creativity and management skills that can help them in a wide range of areas. I know of a number of former leaders, including myself as a school teacher, who use the skills that they developed while volunteering at the camp in a wide range of professions.”