Youth camps: for fun and revenue

Bickley Camp's open day showing high ropes

Bickley Camp's open day showing high ropes

Bickley Camp's open day showing high ropes

Ryan Ausden, Reporter

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Recreation camps for kids are a prominent part of the education system, according to the WA Government that claims that sport and recreational activities build stronger, healthier, happier and safer communities, however, is this the case?

A study conducted by Towson University in the United States found that the effects of summer camp on ‘at-risk youth’ did have a positive impact, despite it only being minor on the individuals tested.

They concluded that the “study suggests that at-risk youth can develop skills of positive identity, social skills, physical and thinking skills, and positive values through an occupation-based approach that provides an enriched, structured camp experience designed to increase skills through occupational engagement.”

One of the youth recreation camps funded by the WA Government is Bickley Camp, designed for children between the ages of nine and 14 and located just 25 minutes from the Perth CBD. The camp originally opened in 1945 and over its time has hosted more than 500,000 campers.

The Senior Program Coordinator of the camp, Bernadette Bennett, told NewsVineWA that the “location and set-up ensure people feel like they’ve stepped away from everyday life and can embrace WA’s beautiful environment.”

Bickley Camp is one of four government funded metropolitan camps, with the others being, Ern Halliday, Point Walter, and Woodman Point. These facilities are often booked by schools, corporate groups or communities to have an annual camp as a part of their curriculum and are mainly used for that purpose alone.

For a normal school-booked camp, Bickley’s aim is to have the attendees “have the opportunity to try different recreation activities which might push them out of their comfort zone, encouraging personal growth and a sense of satisfaction.”

Activities at the camp include climbing, canoeing, education on local fauna and reptiles, as well as a variety of other things.

Bickley Camp had an Open Day last weekend on April 7. Ms Bennett said that the main goal of the Open Day was to showcase Bickley’s recreation program and facilities, saying it “provides families and the community with the chance to experience the camp and its activities without a formal booking and have a fun day out.”

In terms of funding, Recreation Camps Management received $8,784,000 from the WA Government’s 2017-18 budget. This figure is scheduled to grow to $9,266,000 by 2020-21. This begs the question, why the increase in budget?

For starters, all four of the camps are having higher attendance rates. The camps’ target for 2016/17 was 246,250 overall camp experiences and they achieved 242,985 in total for the year, which inclicuded 93,659 overnight stays (up 5.4% from the previous year) and 149,326 single day experiences (up 4.2% from the previous year).

The school sector made the largest amount of bookings with 744 bookings in 2016/17, followed by the sporting and community sector with 411 bookings, and corporate bookings decreased as availability is prioritised for schools, resulting in only 24 corporate bookings for the year.

The camps underwent a redevelopment ten years ago, in 2007, and since then they have generated $37.5 million in revenue, nearly doubling the capital investment at that time. This has provided a social dividend of 2 million physical activity hours for the Western Australian community, while also providing instructors with 87,500 hours of employment in the outdoor recreation sector.

If you would like to learn more about Bickley Camp or any of the other camps that are nearby, head to the Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries’ “camp” page and view all the local campsites on offer.

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About the Writer
Ryan Ausden, Reporter
Ryan Ausden is 21 years of age and currently studying Broadcasting at ECU. He has a strong passion for graphic design, film and photography, having formally switched out of majors for the three before settling into Broadcasting. As many young people, he also loves to travel and absolutely froths the snow, meaning most of his...
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Youth camps: for fun and revenue