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History

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Adapted from Perc Lehman's report for Riverland Zone Day 1994-1995

Prior to 1960, the Lutheran Youth of the Riverland used to hold their annual camp under canvas on the shores of Lake Bonney. This necessitated the hiring of marquees from Adelaide which had to be put up and packed down each time. The flaps of the marquees could easily be raised which meant that the beds filled with sand and insects. Meals were cooked in coppers and served on trestles out in the open with fire bans often being ignored. The toilet facilities also left much to be desired as they were a piece of hessian around a couple of Mallee trees with a hole in the ground. 

Pastor I. D. Wittwer of the Berri-Barmera Parish was Camp Pastor in 1961. He saw all of the work involved in setting up the site and knew it was not as it should be. So, he called a meeting of parents and youth representatives from each congregation and explained his idea of building a permanent campsite. The idea was received positively but the scope of the task had not fully dawned yet.

The ever energetic Pastor Wittwer soon had the lease of 3 acres of land on the shores of Lake Bonney about 4.8km east of Barmera. Arrangements were soon made to inspect and transport a hut from Parafield/Salisbury. The toilets and showers soon followed but these expenses quickly drained the group's funds. Pastor Wittwer’s idea to approach some parents for a loan was successful and it covered the outstanding expenses. The next project was creating the dormitories. After more successful approaches for financial help the foundations were poured and two sheds were bought and erected as dormitories. The girls were fortunate to have a concrete floor in theirs for the next camp, though the boys still had to burrow in the sand.

 

Double bunk beds were designed and made by members of the youth and their parents. An appeal for good second-hand mattresses was also made and quite successful. They were not always the best but the camp was glad to have them. However, it was advised by schools that better mattresses were needed to retain their patronage. So, once again all sources of funds were stretched to the limit to purchase 80 foam mattresses.

 

The camp grounds were levelled and natural couch grass and trees were planted. Interest in the campsite grew and soon sporting clubs, boy scouts, girl guides, and schools were hiring the camp as well. Booking requests were numerous but it was also made aware that there were not decent shower, kitchen, and hall facilities. Meeting these needs took some time as all the profits made were used to repay the many loans. But after some time, it was agreed by the camp's parental advisory body that plans for a camp hall could begin.

It would be impossible to estimate the number of hours of voluntary work which had been given to bring the camp to this stage. Since then, many more voluntary work hours have been given to the operation and upkeep of Camp Kedron, including the Management Committee and the Caretaker.

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