Thanks Adekate!

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Dear staff of Camp Adekate,

Our names are Priya, Cassie and Chiara we are from Sherbourne Primary School. We are writing this letter to say thank you for a great time at camp Adekate! The food was absolutely delicious and we are 100% sure that everyone loved it! Our favourite activities were canoeing, bush cooking, climbing wall and initiatives but the other activities were fantastic too.

We loved that there was a variety of things to do at Camp.

We rate camp Adekate a 9.5/10.

This was one of our favourite school camps. Thank you so much for putting your time and effort to make this camp fantastic,

We were very happy campers!  🙂

From Priya, Cassie and Chiara
Sherbourne Primary School

Dear Camp Adekate

Camp Adekate is the best camp I have ever been on! 

All of the activities were great; I liked how all of them were related to the bush.  They were all so fun.

The food was delicious- I am vegetarian and the food you provided was the best.

All of you (the staff) were all so kind and encouraging!

I would defiantly go back to Camp Adekate.

Thank you so much for having us and for such a great experience!

From Ella JJJ (The loud one)
Sherbourne Primary School

The ropes course was lots of fun. Everyone worked together to get through all of the activities. Rob was very nice and helpful. Todd was really good at all of the activities.Dear Camp Adekate

Sherbourne Primary School

Smash Camp

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Every September school holidays we see young people from secondary schools across the Mornington Peninsula converge on Merricks Lodge campsite for the September Smash camp. The camp is run collectively by local youth organisations, chaplains and church groups. Merricks Lodge provides a space for young people (many from disadvantaged and at risk backgrounds) to share in community, develop positive relationships, and explore issues of life and spirituality.

The leadership team of the camp is made up of a group of 25+ chaplains, youth workers and older students who are passionate
about seeing young people supported and mentored to reach their full potential in life. Days are filled with interactive, team building and just plain crazy activities both onsite at the campsite and offsite at places like Bounce, Casey Race and the Enchanted Maze!

The highlight activity is always Scum Attack on the last day – a minimally structured all in game which ends in uproarious fun! Nights are spent engaging around themes of courage, hope, identity, and purpose as the space is provided for students to reflect on the message of Jesus and what it has to say into their context, life, and spirituality today. This is not a time designed to indoctrinate with religion but rather to stimulate young people to explore their own beliefs and values in a supportive and encouraging environment.

The greatest feeling is seeing young people who may never have felt a sense of value and belonging experience this for the first time! At the end of the week the sense of community and the bond between everyone on camp is always amazing – the way young people come back year after year after year is a great testament to this. Gotta love it!

Sam Hearn
Schools Ministry Coordinator
New Peninsula Baptist Church
& Young Citizen of the Year 2013
Mornington Peninsula Shire

Adekate Re-Development

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Manor Lakes P 1- 12 College: “Dream, Believe, Inspire” Established in 2009 Manor Lakes Colleges is an expanding new college located in the western growth corridor around Werribee.   The Manor Lakes P-12 College vision is “Dream, Believe, Inspire” while the mission statement states that the school will create a vibrant and harmonious community of responsible learners who have a confident belief in their ability to learn, grow and succeed. As part of the innovative curriculum and student support services being offered at the school, Year 9 students are involved in the ‘Learning for Life’ Program throughout the year.  The program allows young adolescents to partake in a range of personal extra-curricular activities that they are interested in whilst developing a range of life skills that will be the building blocks for allowing them to be confident in whatever their future holds after school life. Apart from a city camp, program days outside the school and a rotation of 6 key modules within the school the students also head to camp. As part of the on-going school program 43 year students and accompanying teachers spent 4 days at Adekate Lodge located at Creswick in the Central Goldfields.  The program was focussed on supporting the key elements of the ‘Learning for Life’ program. Students participated in a number of activities that focussed on life skills and personal development.  Included in this was food preparation and food safety. The students worked cooperatively in the kitchen organising menus, preparing group meals, serving and cleaning up.  They also made and bottled up ‘home-made’ tomato sauce and chutney to take home. In the spirit of giving back to the community the students have started constructing a ‘quiet space” for the camp.  Future groups from Manor Lakes College will build on the work done by this group.  Future plans for this space include landscaping, making tables and seats, expanding the railway sleeper mural, and the possible construction of an outdoor pizza oven. Despite the rain and the bitterly cold weather the students and staff showed great resilience in participating and supporting each other in all the camp activities. The students are surveyed about their experiences and learnings from partaking in the program and will have direct input into the future directions of the program. Hopefully the weather will be better for the students attending the November and December camps.

New UC Camping Website

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We are thrilled to announce our revamped and updated website went live Monday 11th August and now provides a new and improved level of service for users. Some of the key improvements are;

  • Improvement to the resource section
  • Lots more photos
  • Easier access and navigation

The newly update resources tab, now makes it available at the touch of a button all the teacher and camp coordinators need to make their camp a success. Access to the activity plans, room allocation, teacher and learner handbooks plus much more that is only a click away. These resources will greatly assist department of education and early childhood applications and excursions. Visit the resources tab and check out what is available for you.

A picture tells a thousand words and the new galleries within the website will provide plenty of images within the three main categories, activities, site and facilities and region. We also welcome any groups that would like to contribute to our gallery.

Lastly the new website provides quick and easy access to all contact details all UCC camps site programs.

Please have a look around and our webpage and we look forward to seeing you at camp soon!

Welcome Emily

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Emily was born and raised Pakenham Victoria. There she had horses and bikes to ride and loved watching trains.

Emily has had a variety of jobs in jobs including swim teacher, waitress, chef,  property manager before deciding that administration was the area she wanted to excel in and she has done that working as a receptionist, administration officer and personal assistant which was her favourite role.

Emily has been visiting Halls Gap since she was born and has stayed in numerous accommodation around Halls Gap. Emily knew about Norval before she began work as she stayed in accomodation near the camp,  and had numerous “wars” with the Norval kids as they wrecked the cubby houses they built.

Emily’s life goal has been achieved which was to live and work in Halls Gap.

Emily lives with her husband Luke, her dachshund Meme and 2 horses Tamby and Kilm.

Emily is looking forward to meeting and working with the UC staff and is especially excited to tackle her role with passion, hard work and always a smile.


With a Little Help from Friends

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At UC Camping we understand that camp is often a milestone moment in the annual calendar of many congregations, schools and communities.  Merricks Lodge recently agreed to provide some extra support to ensure the community of  Hampton Park and Cranbourne Congregations could continue their tradition of being a camping community.  The response to this extra support follows:

 G’day Andrew

 Thanks very much for the support from UC Camping it is really appreciated.  If you can please pass this message on to Shane and the team at Merricks that would be greatly appreciated as well.

I am also more than happy to write this testimonial as I believe in the value of all parts of the church working together as a team.  So here goes:-

Church Camp has been an annual event at Hampton Park Uniting Church for as long as anyone can remember.  It is one of the highlights of the church year for us as we get active outdoors together.  Young and old, active members and those on the fringes and new friends from Cranbourne Uniting Church spend a weekend in February enjoying worship, activities, free time and each other’s company.

For the last six years we have been attending the Merricks campsite which is ideal for us.  It’s proximity to the beach is fantastic as we love to spend our Saturday afternoon of camp enjoying beach time which includes swimming, getting dumped by waves, cricket, sand castles and kite flying.

The diversity of options with outdoor activities like the pool, canoes on the lake, tennis court, basketball hoop, kid’s playground and football oval means that no-one can ever say “I’m bored”.  Over the course of the weekend we utilise all of these options and love it!

The small amount of bush and open space allows us to worship and celebrate communion outdoors.  This is always a wonderful time to reaffirm our commitment to Jesus as we soak up God’s awesome creation.  Without Church Camp at Merrick’s we wouldn’t be the same Christian community!

I hope this is what you were looking for.  Blessings Andrew,

Mat Harry

Minister – Hampton Park & Cranbourne

Edmund Rice Summer Camp

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Words by Shane Knights, Merricks Lodge Site Manager

During early January, Edmund Rice Camps (ERC) ran their summer kids program at Merricks Lodge. ERC provides camps, day programs and other recreational activities for children (aged 8 – 15 years) and families, who are socially or financially disadvantaged. This provides a break from a home life that is often extremely stressful, it provides a positive and safe place to have fun, and introduces positive role models that can demonstrate friendship, patience, trust and perhaps a different way of relating.

The ERC model of providing one volunteer to each child has proven to empower and put a smile on the faces of these kids. Having a positive role model who will play and often just listen to the child brings out the best in them. The ERC summer program sees the kids taking in the environment of the Mornington Peninsula and encouraging the kids through active play. The summer camp has the kids enjoying Point Leo beach, exploring the rock pools of Cape Schanck, arts and craft, overnight camp out and meeting some farmyard friends at the local children’s farm.

UC Camping and ERC goals are closely aligned and therefore we supported their camp. UC Camping provided in kind support in the way of free of charge accommodation for all kids. The significant savings has enabled ERC to return to Merricks Lodge in 2014 and continue to offer an effective program to  Victorian children and families. The Executive Officer of ERC Mr Mark Monahan provided me with some feedback from the camp, which is detailed below. Merricks Lodge staff are committed to supporting programs that encourages kids to be active and engage them with the environment. In the years after their camping experience, we hope the kids choose to protect the environment and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

ERC Merricks Summer Kids Camp

by Mark Monahan (Executive Officer ERC)

This year we had four boys return for their third (fourth for one boy) Edmund Rice Camp. They experience significant disadvantage, find school environments very difficult and hostile, have little recreational outputs, very limited role models and certainly wouldn’t have much else to share with their class mates, when they return from holidays. Their week on Edmund Rice Camp helps fill this void. The memories of camp prove to be crucial to building something they can look back on when their days are tough. Or when having to make choices, the influence of the volunteers’ role modelling shines through.

The Merricks Lodge campsite is crucial for this to happen. The safe environment allows these boys to run free and experience ‘just being a kid’ rather than, when at home having to bear many family issues that only adults should have to worry about. The pools allow the boys to experience the fun of swimming on hot days and the great atmosphere that comes with that like lots of screaming and laughing, splashing, joking around and again just being a kid having fun. This may seem trivial but these boys don’t often get to experience these simple pleasures.

This year one of the boys did the overnight camp out for the first time in three years. All previous years he resisted with lots of difficult behaviours. This year he participated in the activity and the next day felt so proud of himself for sleeping in a tent, and felt just like all the other kids by joining in and completing the activity.

Lastly one girl that returned for her second camp this year has had a very difficult life and especially in 2012. She has witnessed death, violence, and other traumas. Her mum told me that her daughter occasionally says to her that she wishes she wouldn’t wake up sometimes. She is regularly depressed. However her mum says the Edmund Rice Camps gives her motivation to keep strong during those tough days. The encouragement and support she gets during camp is what she holds onto for the coming year.

Because we have so many kids return to us, especially the more kids in need, it is crucial to have a campsite they know and love to return to. The kids thrive on consistency and having a campsite that they know is another important element to our success.

The Kitchen Table

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What Makes Time at Camp So Special?

I have been spending a lot of time lately reflecting on what it is that makes the “Camp” experience so special. I keep coming back to the same conclusion. The “stuff” of camp that we call program, the canoeing, ropes courses, bushwalks etc. etc. are vital and should always be loads of fun, but for me (and I expect many of our campers) at the heart of the camp experience is the sharing of community. The opportunities to connect with others and share the fellowship this brings. No more is this captured than when campers gather at meal times. On camp meals are not merely a necessary function to fuel the hungry hoards, meal times are critical times for a pause, some reflection, much sharing and perhaps a window into what life may be like beyond the camp environment.

Recently, as I was hurriedly packing to head to Sydney for the ICDC Course I stumbled across Christopher  Gleeson’s book “A Canopy of Stars” and in it found this poem.

Andrew McGuckian

The Kitchen Table

By Elsie Voon, 27th June, 2009

There are lots of things wrong with Australia today,

And I’d like to have something to say if I may.

You know that, forsooth, our problem with youth,

Untidy, ill-mannered, untamed and uncouth,

Is the fact that their home life is so often unstable

And it’s all for the lack of a kitchen table.

Remember how once we would sit down as one,

And Dad would say grace when the carving was done.

Our own serviettes from our own special rings,

And we all knew our manners and etiquette things.

Then our elders would tell us of custom and fable,

When we all sat about at our kitchen table.

Now they’re building new mansions with four-car garages.

Our working lives mortgaged to interest and charges.

There’s less time at home for the tea to be made,

And it’s seldom today that a table is laid.

There’s room after room under gable and gable,

But there’s not enough room for a kitchen table.

At weekends the parents are chauffeurs unpaid,

No wonder they’re tired and their tempers are frayed.

As they ferry their broods to arenas of sport,

Where the culture of winning’s intensively taught,

And there’s more on the telly both free and by cable,

So there’s no room for talk around the kitchen table.

Karl Marx called religion the drug of the people,

But there’s scant regard now for the church or the steeple,

Just give ‘em more sport and don’t let ‘em think,

And keep them away from the kitchen sink.

We’ll give ‘em more sport and the culture of Babel,

The throwaway culture that threw out the table.

With the culture of rap and their baseball caps,

There’ll soon be no fellers, no blokes and no chaps.

When they all dress the same then it’s little surprise

That the girls swear as much and as foul as the guys.

So we grandparents must, just as long as we’re able,

Keep our culture alive around the kitchen table.


Quoted in Christopher Gleeson SJ, A Canopy of Stars; some reflections for the journey, David Lovell Publishing, 2003, p 19

Australian Adventure Bush Therapy Forum

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The Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc. is a volunteer run, professional association for practitioners (people working in and around the field) of Bush Adventure Therapy. Each year we hold a gathering to share skills, knowledge and stories of our work and practice. Rather than call it a ‘conference’ which implies a one-way receiving of expert knowledge from presenters, we call our event a ‘forum’, which, from its Greek origins refers to a space akin to a marketplace where people come together to exchange goods. Everyone present has and brings to the forum their particular skills, knowledge, ideas and perspectives that make the field of Bush Adventure Therapy rich and diverse in Australia.

It was with this idea in mind that we sought out and found Grantville Lodge. Grantville Lodge provided an ideal location for such a space to be created. The combination of bush, accommodation, spaces for running session, views over Westernport Bay and friendly staff made it very easy for everyone attending to step away from the bustle of their day to day lives. It was easy for us all to draw out the learning, nourishment and relationships that the forum offers.


Often people hear about Bush Adventure Therapy (BAT) and ask what it is all about? It is hard to describe because it is a truly multi-disciplinary field and what is true for a program running in Victoria may be different for a program running in the remote Kimberly region of Western Australia.

One way of describing BAT is to say…

Bush Adventure Therapy is:

• an intentional use of adventure and outdoor environments for therapeutic outcomes
• an ecological approach to human health and wellbeing
• a diverse field of practice in Australia

If you are interested to find out more about BAT and the association you can visit our website or email us at Our website will be offline sporadically over the next two months as we are renovating it. We will be offering training or PD events later in the year so get in touch or join our emailing list if you are at all interested.

Many thanks to Belinda and the staff at Grantville Lodge!

Ben Knowles
Committee Chair

Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc.
110 Studley Park Drive, Kew, Victoria 3101

Support for UC Outdoors

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UC Outdoors will see UC Camping expand the program service to include journey based expeditions involving bushwalking  together with other journeying activities such as paddling, sailing, coach touring and cycling.

At the December 2012 meeting, the Commission for Mission Camping Committee gave overwhealming support to the proposal to launch a new UC Camping “product” to be known as UC Outdoors.

Since being established in 2006, UC Camping has provided a diverse range of programmed activities at the six campsites, both on-site and beyond.  These activities have included surfing, bushwalking, canoeing, rock climbing, leadership development, abseiling, high ropes, low ropes, and more.
2013 will see several ongoing programs continue together with an opportunity for several schools to trial new journeys. The existing program team is well qualified to expand into this new area of program and will be supported by a dedicated new staff person in the refinement of logistics and program design.On numerous occasions UC Camping has provided site based groups with an overnight or longer camp-out journey experience. From time to time these programs have also been stand alone expedition programs including cycling, walking and canoeing. UC Camping has decided to step up the involvement in journey programming and hence has established UC Outdoors.

This is an exciting time for UC Camping and in particular the program staff involved. We look forward to delivering a range of journey programs, tailored to specific client needs, in the very near future.

Further information can be obtained by contacting the UC Camping Director, Andrew McGuckian on 53 564 380 or

Andrew McGuckian

UCC Director