Ngamuwahine Outdoor Education Lodge will soon be able to cater for more school students now the land has officially been bought on behalf of Tauranga Intermediate School.
Thousands of primary and intermediate students already visit the camp and its renowned outdoor adventure course in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park each year along with community and church groups, private families and couples who wish to get married in the forest.
The 3000m² site was originally given to Tauranga Intermediate by local farmer Max Brown in 1980 on a 99 year lease but the Ngamuwahine Lodge Trust, which runs the facility on the school's behalf, was recently offered the chance to buy the land outright.
BayTrust has granted $200,000 from its Community Amenities Fund towards the land purchase. TECT and the lodge's trustees have contributed also, creating "greater security for the future", according to Camp Director and Head Instructor Gerry Hart.
The trust has bought an additional paddock either side of the existing lodge and Hart planned to build a new 'out camp' where students could pitch canvas tents overnight.
"That will allow us to offer more camp classes up here and I can let it out to more schools because there is demand. I get asked quite often if we've got any spaces but we're basically booked out," he said.
"We've never been in debt since I've been running the lodge and I didn't want to end up with a big debt by purchasing the land. But the way it's all worked out has been fantastic.
"The community has really supported us too. We hold a fundraising 12 hour relay every year and we just raised another $60,000 in 2019. All the money goes into Ngamuwahine to build the climbing walls and adventure course, buy equipment like mountain bikes and kayaks, that sort of thing," Hart said.
At the moment, students from Tauranga Intermediate, Bethlehem College, Te Puke Primary, Pyes Pa School, Katikati Primary, St Thomas More and Kaimai School visit the camp each year, with Hamilton Boys High having also recently visited.
With the land purchase now complete, Hart was looking forward to welcoming many other Bay students in the years to come.
A total of five projects worth $1,103,000 have received funding from BayTrust's Community Amenities Fund. The Bay-wide fund is designed to support intergenerational assets that have broad community support.
BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said the annual fund was an exciting opportunity to secure money for community and environmental assets that would make a real difference to Bay of Plenty residents for generations to come.
"BayTrust's vision is to ensure the Bay of Plenty is the greatest place to be. Our population is growing, and our community's needs continue to evolve. Building new community assets or expanding existing ones to meet those needs requires substantial funding and we're pleased we can contribute in a significant way."
Rhodes says going on school camp created special memories for every Kiwi child and the confidence they gained from trying adventurous activities and living away from home for a few nights was immense.
"Exploring outdoors and testing limits is also vital to a child's mental and physical wellbeing. We want as many Bay children to experience Ngamuwahine as possible so it's wonderful to know this camp will continue to exist and flourish for many years to come."