Camp Columba’s new manager DaveBruce has returned home.
Mr Bruce and his wife Suzie hail from the Gore district but left for education and jobs and have been away from the South for about 14 years.
They moved to Gore from Cambridge, in the North Island, for the job about three months ago.
“We’ve been away for a while and it started to feel like it’s time to come home,” Mr Bruce said.
He had an inside perspective on Camp Columba, having attended Easter and Labour weekend camps at the Pukerau facility as a teen, he said.
“It’s not a complete unknown.”
Mr Bruce has a background in outdoor education.
He worked for two years at a camp in Matamata called Totara Springs and was a manager of abseiling company Avalon Industrial Services.
He believed his background had equipped him with a good skill set for the Camp Columba position.
The camp held a place in the heart of many in the community, he said.
Since his return people had shared their memories with him of time spent at the camp, Mr Bruce said.
The camp experience was designed to bring young people together to experience “the love of Christ”, he said.
Friendships were forged during the camps, he said.
“It’s such a special place.”
He was keen to build on the good foundation established by those who set up the camp, including Ritchie Kelly, who was also the first manager, Mr Bruce said.
The board set the path for the future and he worked within those parameters, he said.
He was keen to establish where the camp fitted in to the community now.
He wanted to know how the camp was viewed as a resource and whether it was being used to full advantage, he said.
“There’s lots of ideas and lots of food for thought,” he said.
Winter was traditionally a quiet time for the camp, but some events were still held, he said.
Some children did not care what the weather threw at them and carried on regardless, which was a heartening southern attribute, Mr Bruce said.
The board had bought a section of land next to the facility, which offered plenty of scope for further development, he said.
It contained a forested area and ponds.
Securing the ponds for the future was a great asset, he said.
At present the camp offered a range of adventure activities, he said.
The camp partnered with Venture Southland to run adventure programmes, he said.
The camp was used by school groups during term time, he said.
Clubs and church groups also held camps at the venue.
“Then we run our own camps.”