YMCA family camps prove a winner

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Families at Camp Adair vote with their hands. PHOTO: TORRIE HAZELWOOD
Families at Camp Adair vote with their hands. PHOTO: TORRIE HAZELWOOD

A family camp initiative by the Auckland YMCA has been declared an outstanding event and given national recognition.

YMCA Auckland won the Visitor Solutions Outstanding Event Award at the New Zealand Recreation Association Outdoor Awards earlier this month.

The Outstanding Event award recognises the significant contribution made to outdoor recreation and adventure tourism in New Zealand.

The Family Camp initiative event gives families a chance to step away from their normal lives and connect over a weekend at one of YMCA Auckland's outdoor facilities, where accommodation, catering and activities are provided for the whole family.

The programme is fully funded by YMCA Auckland and families from Auckland and Hamilton are able to take part.

Launched in 2014, the programme has run twice a year at YMCA Camp Adair in the Hunua Ranges.

During the 2015/2016 summer season there were 26 families - 137 campers in total - taking part in the Family Camp experience, with many more families gearing up to do the same this coming November.

Visitor Solutions representative, Gordan Cessford, said YMCA Auckland was chosen for the award because the initiative made outdoor activity a positive experience.

"For many children, the first experiences they have in the outdoors are with their families, and this event serves as a positive introduction to outdoor experiences that also encourages parents to get active in the outdoors."

YMCA Auckland was also a finalist for the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council Organisational Excellence Award.

Families involved in Family Camp take part in a range of high-octane activities, from zooming down a mudslide, and conquering their fears on a high ropes course, to spending quality time creating a family crest or relaxing/singing around the campfire.

It is targeted at families who may not otherwise have the opportunity to access the outdoors, and focuses on bringing them together to build lasting memories, all as a way to strengthen family bonds in a beautiful outdoor environment.

For many participants, it's the first family holiday they have been able to have, and it's had a "huge impact" on every member of the family.

"We're thrilled that Family Camp's contribution to the community has been recognised," says Lee Vaughan, YMCA Auckland's Camp Adair Manager.

"At YMCA Auckland we're passionate about building strong families, strong kids and strong communities - and Family Camp is just one of the ways that we go about fulfilling that mission."

To find out more or apply for the next Family Camp, visit: ymcaauckland.org.nz/familycamp

- The Aucklander

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