Health camp stretches wings

Roxburgh Children's Health Camp manager Martin Stuart says the butterfly featured on this year's...
Roxburgh Children's Health Camp manager Martin Stuart says the butterfly featured on this year's health stamps is a "fantastic image" as both it and health camps are about transforming lives. Photo by Colin Williscroft
A year after being threatened with closure because of funding issues, the Roxburgh Children's Heath Camp is expanding.

Camp manager Martin Stuart said while the facility at present took 14 children per camp, there would be 21 children attending the next camp on Monday.

The Roxburgh facility hosts nine four- to five-week camps a year, along with a one-week camp for children with diabetes. It also runs camps in the school holidays for children looked after by carers, to give the carers a break. .

The school holiday camps were a condition of the organisation that runs the camps, Te Puna Whaiora, being granted an extra $1.5 million annual funding in July last year.

The Roxburgh camp has a staff of about 40.

Mr Stuart said the Roxburgh camp was involved with 600 children and their families last year, for a total cost of around $1.7 million.

Te Puna Whaiora ran seven camps around New Zealand for children 5 to 12 years old. It was a crucial time in young lives, Mr Stuart said.

"Children of that age are very pliable. If you can catch children with behavioural problems before they get to puberty, it's possible to teach them good life skills."

He said while teaching children coping skills was important, working with their families was also important, so they could all work together after the camps had finished.

Mr Stuart said while health camps in the past focused on children's physical state, putting on weight and getting them out in the sunshine, today the emphasis was on physical, mental or behavioural problems. Children who attended the core camps are referred by schools or social service agencies.

To help with funding, New Zealand Post has this week released the latest in its series of health-camp stamps.

This year's stamps, with face values of 50c and $1, plus a 10c surcharge to go to the health camps, feature butterflies, which Mr Stuart said was apt.

The butterfly photos were taken by Alexandra's Central Stories museum and art gallery director Brian Patrick.

Mr Patrick, who has been studying butterflies since he was a 5-year-old, said he took the photos of the boulder copper, monarch and tussock butterflies in and around Alexandra last summer.



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