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Day Camp 2023 - a village

By Pauline Stewart.

Day Camp in Mercury Bay has been running for over twenty years. There was a break because of covid, but this year, 2023, Day Camp was back with a great wave of energy and goodwill - 300 campers including children, 55 teen leaders and adult helpers.

It’s a small and very busy, well organised village out there on Purangi Road, Cooks Beach, at the Morcom Farm for three days of the April School Holidays.

It is not just local children who come to Day Camp, but grandchildren of residents come to Whitianga and surrounding towns for the school holidays, simply to be Day Campers.

The esteemed leader is Tina Bartlett and as well, her daughter, Katie, who was once a fire year old Day Camper, is now the young adult in charge of ferry transport, a hug task and she does it will a smile and a strong team to support her.

It was quite a sight to see over 200 children lining up in the morning to catch the ferry and then walk a short distance to a bus stop to be finally ferried in relay to the Day Camp site.

One noticeable feature is the way children move through the years from being campers to teen leaders and then taking on area responsibilities. The message is you don’t get too old to be of assistance at day camp. I talked to. Warwick who had been coming for 20 years and who had brought his young neighbour of 15 years of age to experience the camp as a teen leader.

The range of activities and responsibilities is huge - from archery with proper arrows, campfire cooking, hut building, target shooting, rock climbing, mystery- mud trailer rides, carpentry to name a few. But it’s the fun of learning and trying new things, being excited with their friends, getting muddy and loving it that is the stand -out feature. I did not see a mobile phone.

It is not an easy task to pass on what you value, enjoy and believe in, to the next generation. Often the ears are closed. However, it is noticeable that Day Camp brings the child who becomes an adult and a parent who then brings their children and that in turn brings the grandchildren. A real sense of community is hard to find, but the sense of belonging and cross-generational oneness was evident in many aspects of this Day Camp. This community pays tribute and says ‘Thank you’ to the many adults and teen leaders who give of their love, their time and skills to make Day Camp, Mercury Bay an annual miracle and a very significant holiday event for hundreds of children across New Zealand.

Caption: Children heading the ferry to attend Day Camp.

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