KIAH RIDGE CHRISTIAN CONFERENCE CENTRE TEAM
Kevern Bawden, Director
Some of the wonderful attributes of Christian Camping Ministry at venues like Kiah Ridge include our ability to adapt week to week; deliver outcomes in projects and service that are beyond the typical capacity of our resources; and ensure that we do not drift from our collective mission and vision for the future.
Our heritage and experience placed us in a strong position to not only survive 2020, but thrive in ways that we had not expected.
Yes, the pandemic and ensuing government restrictions closed our operations in mid-March indefinitely. However, almost immediately our focus turned to investing in our venue to ensure that when we were able to welcome guests they would be coming to a space that was the best it could be.
We had no bednights or meals to count, and instead began counting square metres of turf, cubic metres of soil and concrete, linear metres of festoon lights, tonnes of sandstone rock, litres of paint…. Projects grew bigger as our time opportunities increased. Without question, 2020 saw significant changes to our grounds and there is now no building on the site that has not had significant renovation or upgrade work. In a ‘normal’ year we could not have achieved such an outcome at incredibly low financial investment.
More significant than the work we physically undertook around the site, is the number of staff we lost in 2020 – zero. We are grateful for the support of JobKeeper that enabled our team to stay working together and employed. The continuation of connection in our team was a significant help in our collective and individual journeys through 2020.
Guest groups were able to return to us in mid-June in a very slow trickle. It is a joy to see groups utilising not only the venue again, but also enjoying the spaces that have been created and refreshed during 2020. It’s very clear that those who have been able to come away continue to be impacted in a positive way through the opportunity to gather together in intentional temporary community. It is a huge encouragement to see a hunger for camping and retreat events remain after such a disconnected year.
In mid-March it was very difficult to see how we would financially survive the year with optimism and a real possibility for future development plans to be realised. We ended 2020 celebrating the favourable settlement of insurance claims for flood and fire damage, receipt of $50,000 from a government grant towards a project, and a final master development plan that we are able to progress further in 2021 with a renewed sense of urgency. God provided for our needs in ways that we could not have foreseen. We know this will continue.
And whilst we look back with gratitude and hope for the future, we know that there are venues that have and will not survive what 2020 unleashed. We know that around the globe many Christian Camping activities are still on hold, and the future very uncertain. We know people in our local communities have lost some or all of their livelihood, identity and relationships have been fractured.
When many are searching for ways to respond to our current landscape, our response is simple yet profound. Keep going.
The reflections in our 2019 report seem to continue to ring true with an even greater sense of urgency; “People more than ever will be looking for support, deep and caring relationships, and hope for the future. We know that Christian Camping offers this and so much more. If ever there was a season to invest in a camping initiative in your own local Church, surely it is now.”
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Kiah Ridge 2020 #dreamteam: Lorna (Bookings), Kieran (Property), Laurence (Catering), Robin (Catering), Kim (Catering | Housekeeping), Emily (Housekeeping), Joanne (Housekeeping), Kevern (Site Director) ”