Residents look at buying Camp Sutton

Middlemarch residents (from left) Ian and Linda MacKenzie, Kate Wilson, Jock Frew and Ian...
Middlemarch residents (from left) Ian and Linda MacKenzie, Kate Wilson, Jock Frew and Ian Millington outside Camp Sutton yesterday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Middlemarch residents are rallying together to investigate the possibility of buying Camp Sutton, after the Outdoor Education Trust recently put it up for sale.

Otago regional councillor and Middlemarch resident Kate Wilson said residents were sad to see the camp on the market, and were keen to determine if it could be kept in the community’s hands.

The Otago Youth Adventure Trust put the 2.7ha camp site on the market earlier this month, because usage by schools and community organisations had been very low over the past decade.

However, the facility could accommodate about 25 people, contained a relatively new confidence course and a team-building course, and there was still a lot of potential in the site, Cr Wilson said.

One of the main users of the camp was Moana House — a well-established Dunedin-based residential therapeutic facility for adult male offenders who want to change their lives.

If it was sold, the Moana House group would have nowhere else to go, she said.

"They [Middlemarch residents] really appreciate the good work of places like Moana House and other groups that have come through.

"There’s very few places like this now where you don’t have TV or internet access, and you just have to learn to get along with each other.

"It’s also used extensively by the community. The fire brigade, for example, had their business wind-up there this year.

"It’s a nice social function place.

"I think it’s a really sad loss for the work that the camp is being used for.

"So we’re investigating whether there’s an appetite in the community to buy the facility, to ensure its purpose is retained."

The camp was essentially a "Middlemarch business" which was under strain, and she believed its closure might have an impact on other businesses in Middlemarch.

"Every business you lose in a very small community is a big thing."

Nothing was written in stone yet, but if the community decided it wanted to take over the camp, it would have to look seriously at marketing it properly.

"There are core groups like Moana House that use it.

"We should book them in, and fill in those other times by having interaction with the University of Otago and tramping clubs and things like that."

It could also make a great holiday place for families from Dunedin and all over New Zealand.

"I think there could be quite a widespread market there.

"It’s a wonderful resource for people to just get away for a weekend and be on their own. So I think there is huge potential."


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