Hamilton Camp is one of Challenge’s oldest and most treasured camps and as we approach its 25th anniversary, we would like to celebrate this significant milestone.

From humble beginnings, it all started in 1993 when a young lady named Kylie Shanahan and her peers in the Hamilton community wanted to make a difference to families living with cancer. They had seen first-hand the impact that a cancer diagnosis can have on a family and this led them to working with the local service clubs, Rotary, Lions and APEX, to organise a camp for children with cancer.

There have been many individuals who have committed themselves to making sure that this camp is a huge success. Some of those people are sadly no longer with us, however their impact has been significant. I would like to make special mention of a few of these people –  Bruce Johnstone who volunteered at Challenge for many years. Bruce always loved heading up to Hamilton and showing off the many skills he learnt as a child (roping, knot making and surviving the bush!), all skills which are unfortunately less practiced and valued in recent generations. Big thanks also to the beautiful Lewis family who opened their farm to us and Ron, who always made sure that the lambs were born on the day the kids arrived on the farm. They all had an instinctive ability to show the kids a great time and it was extremely special to witness.

We have also been very lucky to have Hamilton College open their doors to accommodate our groups. We are very grateful for their support. To all the Rotarians, Lions and Apex Club members, thank you for your amazing support of food, finances and opportunities.

The camp has continued to soar to new heights every year, unceasingly expanding the possibilities and opportunities it offers to Challenge. With new additions and members to the Hamilton Camp Committee over the course of 25 years, we have always had someone to champion the cause and with each person, there has always been fresh ideas to help evolve the camp whilst also maintaining its traditions.

What makes this camp so unique is that it remains to be one of the few community-organised camps that has now become entrenched in the Hamilton spirit and traditions. It is driven by the Hamilton folk every year and it is precisely this love and commitment to the camp that ensures its posterity.

We would like to congratulate everyone involved, in particular Kylie for her initiative, Liz Fenton, Gavan O’Donnell and Ann Hayes for their coordinating efforts.

Reflecting on the past 25 years, it is important that every individual who has made a contribution to Hamilton Camp knows how much their efforts mean to us at Challenge and the difference you are making to the children who attend. Congratulations on this amazing milestone.