As specialists in working with children, youth and families, we know that more than ever, young lives today need to be built on a foundation that provides direction for their path in life. That’s why, for over 50 years, Youthworks has been providing Christian camping experiences and teaching skills in the outdoors through a wide range of activities that equip young people for life.
We believe in the power of the temporary community to bring people together on camps or conferences, where they can grow and change. At Youthworks, through our comfortable accommodation, genuine hospitality and committed staff, our aim is to help you build gospel relationships which strengthen and enrich the work of your school, church or group.
With such a wide selection of locations, catering options and price points, and with a capacity for groups up to 400 people, we are confident that we can provide a memorable camp experience for your group.
Vision, Mission & Values
Youthworks vision is to see an effective Youth and Children's Ministry in every Church.
To support work of the Gospel, in churches and schools, to present children, youth and families mature in Christ.
Word Ministry – we know that as the Bible is taught the Holy Spirit gathers and raises disciples of Jesus Christ
Authenticity – we are being transformed to be like Christ who is trustworthy, prayerful and gracious
Effectiveness – we strive for excellence in what we do to make a significant impact in our Diocese and beyond
Service – we bless others as we are innovative, flexible and responsive to our customers' needs
Sustainability – we build and grow ministries which are conducted in an efficient and financially viable manner
Collaboration – we work well together with colleagues and stakeholders to achieve our shared vision
Youthworks has a proud history of camping ministry that now stretches back over 70 years, to when we began as the Anglican Youth Department during WWII. Concerned at what the young people of Australia would come back to after the war, Archbishop Howard Mowll appointed the Rev Graham Delbridge as the first ever Chaplain for Youth in 1942.
LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS
The challenge for Graham was enormous, yet under God, he laid the foundations that would forever change the landscape of youth ministry in Sydney. Sites were purchased along the Port Hacking River; ‘Le Meuse’, used for youth camps, was renamed Chaldercot in 1944, while Rathane served for welfare and spiritual work with returned service men and women, until it too was handed over for youth work in 1946.
Following Graham Delbridge’s resignation in 1952, and Rev Arthur Dean’s four-year tenure as Director, Archbishop Mowll appointed Rev Neville Bathgate as Director of the Youth Department in 1956. Neville had travelled extensively throughout North America, and was greatly impressed by Camp Pioneer in Canada. He resolved to establish a similar program on the sites at Port Hacking, and so the hugely popular ‘Camp Howard’ was born in 1957, with the first camps being run by Neville and Deaconess Joan Ash at Chaldercot. Under Neville’s leadership, and later Directors, the Youth Department saw significant expansion of its sites and camping ministry.
In 1958, Blue Gum Lodge in the Blue Mountains was purchased, and the construction of Deer Park was also begun by volunteer labour, opening 18 months later. The Southern Cross Ski Chalet was added in 1963, while Telford was acquired in 1969. Camira Conference Centre at Gerroa was also added later.
EXPANSION OF PROGRAMS
Under Director Terry Dein in the 1970’s, the first disability, country and mid-week school camps were introduced. Together with new off-site camps,such as ‘Challenge’ for troubled, at-risk youth, the new campsites allowed for thousands more young people to visit for church camps, leadership training and weekend retreats, with many encountering Christ for the first time.
When John Cross arrived as Director in 1981, he brought a renewed focus on maximising the weekday ministry potential of the sites. Previously, the boatsheds and other resources remained locked during the week, and Camp Howard existed only during the holidays. In 1983, however, after much discussion and prayer, the sheds were opened for mid-week groups, and Howard Education Camps (now known as Horizon) commenced in 1984, with Trinity Grammar and SCEGGS Redlands the very first schools.
As the new educational camping program became rapidly popular with schools, it became necessary to develop young, well-trained leaders who would view camping ministry as a long-term vocational choice. After 40 years of use, it had also become clear that in order to continue attracting schools, a major upgrade of the properties was required. Thanks to a large gift by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation in the late 1980’s, Rathane, Chaldercot and Deer Park were redeveloped, with 25,000 young people attending our camps in 1990.
A NEW ERA
By the mid-90’s, there was a growing conviction that the future lay in amalgamating the Anglican Youth Department and the Anglican Education Commission (AEC), combining their resources for more effective ministry to young people across the diocese. From this merger, Youthworks was born in 1997, which has grown to incorporate publishing and training resources, as well as camping ministry.
In 2002 we opened our third major centre along the Shoalhaven River, with two venues: Waterslea and Koloona. Further building projects at the Port Hacking sites supported the development of new programs and camps, such as HSC Study Camps, the Outdoor Ministry Conference, WROK! and Outdoor Ministry Traineeships.
Today, over 43,000 guests stay annually at Youthworks sites and the vast majority of these are students and young people. Our heart is to provide them with experiences of God’s creation within a caring community that will see their lives enriched with a fresh focus and direction for life.
DIRECTIONS TO PORT HACKING CONFERENCE CENTRES
Travel on the Princes Highway to the traffic lights 1.5 kilometres south of Sutherland. Turn into the Royal National Park via Farnell Avenue.
You’re not required to pay the park entrance fee - just tell the attendant you’re travelling to the Youthworks Centres. Follow Farnell Avenue through Audley, across the weir and up the hill for 2 kilometres.
Turn left onto Warumbul Road, continuing through the chicanes and following the sealed road onto Rathane Road. Follow the signs to the venue you’ve booked.
Note: Audley Weir is subject to flooding. If the road is closed, detour via McKell Avenue, Waterfall and follow the signs through the National Park.
DIRECTIONS TO SHOALHAVEN CONFERENCE CENTRES
Navigate to Nowra. If you are coming from Sydney/Wollongong, turn right onto Illaroo Road immediately before the bridge over the Shoalhaven River. Do not cross the bridge. If coming from south of Nowra, turn left onto Illaroo Road immediately after the bridge.
Continue along Illaroo road for 1.5km, taking the second exit through the roundabout. Continue for 4.5kms, and watch for the Tapitallee suburb sign - the left turn onto Koloona Drive is immediately after. Follow Koloona Drive for 4km to the Shoalhaven Centres entrance sign, and follow the signs to your site.
DIRECTIONS TO BLUE GUM LODGE
Address: 6 Fels Avenue, Springwood 2777
Head West on the Great Western Highway, going up the mountain. Go through Valley Heights and follow the signs to “Springwood Town Centre”, turning left onto Macquarie Road and passing under the railway line.
Pass Springwood Primary School and turn left on De Chair Avenue. Follow the street round the right to find the entrance to Blue Gum Lodge.
If you're travelling to other sites, including Kangaroo Valley and Loftus, please see your group organiser.