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Jetty...Camp Columba manager Dave Bruce has been building a new landing at one of the ponds as part of the camp's winter maintenance schedule. Campers will launch the homemade rafts they make nearby from the landing.PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Camping destinations that would normally be accommodating school groups this autumn are instead accommodating a loss of business.

Deep Cove Outdoor Education Trust chairman Mike MacManus said six Southland schools had cancelled their bookings at Deep Cove Hostel in Doubtful Sound because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“In a typical year we would have at least 60 school groups,” Mr MacManus said.

Other groups coming from further afield were also forced to cancel.

“Our biggest cancellation was the University of Georgia. They were supposed to stay all May.”

The trust’s other source of income of providing fuel for the tourism industry had also been hit by the slump in demand.

However Deep Cove was able to make accommodations.

“For the foreseeable future we’re doing all right,” Mr MacManus said.

“Like so many we are hoping for the best.”

Camp Columba, in Pukerau, was doing its best to face the impact of Covid-19, camp manager David Bruce said.

“Lockdown had a significant impact.

“We usually get about two (school groups) a week. They stay for two or three nights,” he said.

School groups accounted for about 60% of groups that stayed at Camp Columba, whereas 30% were ministry groups and 10% were “other”.

While there was no crystal ball to show the future, Camp Columba would weather the Covid-19 storm thanks to its support from the church and the “amazing community” that backed it, he said.

“We have to adapt to change.”

The camp was making the best of the situation.

“We have an extra two months to do maintenance and make what we have better.”

Menzies College was one school that had cancelled camp.

Its annual years 7-8 camp to Deep Cove had been scheduled for June.

Principal Kath Luoni said that it was an unfortunate but necessary decision.

Past camps had been “a unique opportunity to access a part of New Zealand that is mostly inaccessible”, she said.

“The students get to know each other. There is an emphasis on adventure.

“It’s a lovely introduction to Menzies. The community comes together.”